Writing advice from Matthew Weiner

I can remember the exact day that I discovered Mad Men.

I was home sick and desperate for something to watch. I flipped on whatever streaming service I was using at the time and thought I’d give Mad Men a try. The only problem was that I only had access to the third season, not the first or second. But you know when you’re sick and you just don’t care? That’s the state of mind I was in, so despite the fact that I prefer to start television shows from the beginning, I started watching season 3 of Mad Men.

I finished it in one day (don’t judge me, I was sick). And I fell in love. Hard. Not long after, I watched seasons 1 and 2 and fell even harder. When I finally managed to convince my husband to watch the show, I watched with him just so I could start all over again, from the beginning and in order this time.

Over the years many people have asked me why I love Mad Men so much. Maybe it has something to do with Don Draper. Or maybe it’s the clothes and booze. Or maybe it’s because I’m a copywriter and can completely identify with some of the characters on the show. I don’t worry so much about why I love it. I just do.

Matthew Weiner, Mad Men‘s creator and writer, is someone I’d totally geek out over if I met. Not only is he responsible for my current favourite show, but he was also a writer on my all-time favourite show, The Sopranos. In short, this man has brought a lot of happiness to my life and I feel like I owe him a drink or something. Seeing as he is responsible for so much quality television, I thought I’d look around for some Matthew Weiner writing advice and, of course, I had no trouble finding it.

When people talk to you, take notes.
“Now I have a ton of stuff like that I’ve saved, things people have said to me that are concise and devastating and sum up some moment in their lives. When I’m talking to some woman on an airplane, and she says, I like being bad and going home and being good, that is very useful.”
(Source: Flavorwire)

Embrace rejection.
“While being battered always hurts, an important survival mechanism I’ve acquired over the years is to both thrive on rejection and hold on to compliments. Rejection enrages me, but that ‘I’ll show you!’ feeling is an extremely powerful motivator.”
(Source: Fast Company)

Avoid the internet. 
“It’s like being on trial for a crime you didn’t commit and having to listen to the testimony with a gag in your mouth. I did learn, though, that what I intended something to mean is not always what it means. That’s okay. It’s actually kind of amazing.”
(Source: The Paris Review)

Be kind to yourself.
“The greatest regret I have is that, early in my career, I showed myself such cruelty for not having accomplished anything significant. I spent so much time trying to write, but was paralyzed by how behind I felt. Many years later I realized that if I had written only a couple of pages a day, I would’ve written 500 pages at the end of a year (and that’s not even working weekends). Any contribution you make on a daily basis is fantastic. I still happen to write almost everything at once, but I now cut myself slack on all of the thinking and procrastination time I use. I know that it’s all part of my creative process.”

(Source: Business Insider)

Try dictation.
“The good thing about it is you’re not looking at the computer — the dialogue is spoken, so the language is more natural. Also, at the end of the day, let’s say everything you did was crap — you have 25 pages to rewrite as opposed to five pages.”
(Source: Rolling Stone)

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