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Worth Reading: “I’m Ira Glass and This is How I Work”

It may surprise you to learn that I’m not really a fan of “This American Life.” I’ve never been able to explain why, exactly, but there’s something about the show that turns me off.

Still, when Keph Senett forwarded this Ira Glass “How I Work” piece to a group of writer friends, I found plenty of interest. I love reading process/how people work pieces, especially when they’re honest and interesting, as this one is.

Choice outtakes:

“When I come out of an interview, I jot down the things I remember as being my favorite moments. For an hour-long interview usually it’s just four or five moments, but if out I’m reporting all day, I’ll spend over an hour at night typing out every favorite thing that happened. This is handier than you might think. Often this short list of favorite things will provide the backbone to the structure to my story.”

“I am a noisy introvert. My sister Randi made up that phrase and it describes lots of people I know. Lots of writers seem to be introverts who love to now and then be on stage. Lots of radio people too. I covet large amounts of time alone, and I’m most comfortable and very happy when I’m alone, but obviously there’s another side to me because true introverts don’t end up with their own national radio shows.”

“I’d just say to aspiring journalists or writers—who I meet a lot of—do it now. Don’t wait for permission to make something that’s interesting or amusing to you. Just do it now. Don’t wait. Find a story idea, start making it, give yourself a deadline, show it to people who’ll give you notes to make it better. Don’t wait till you’re older, or in some better job than you have now. Don’t wait for anything. Don’t wait till some magical story idea drops into your lap. That’s not where ideas come from. Go looking for an idea and it’ll show up. Begin now. Be a fucking soldier about it and be tough.”


One response »

  1. I’ve never really been into TAL either but I’m not a radio/podcast person. Terrible with audio.

    I enjoyed reading his technique for writing longform. I was never really taught a process for putting together features myself, so was fascinating to see how methodically he approached it.


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