Some of you may or may not know who Dan Harmon is. He is the creator of the television show, “Community.” Before that Dan was a comedian and the creator of Channel 101 – a comedic precursor to “funny or die” or even youtube in some ways. It was a gallery of funny videos – some created by Dan, some created by others. I do not know Dan personally, but I will say that his internet thoughts have taught me volumes. For example, Dan is a believer in STORY. Everything is story to him. Story is what audiences hold on to and it is why they come back for more. Dan writes his best stuff, always with story in mind…even when he’s writing a television show.
I can’t think of a single more important thing that a writer should know.
Now, Dan has an entire formula based on this rhythm of story. He uses a circle to depict it and it includes a great deal of Joseph Campbell’s hero ideology. I had to paraphrase the story concept, digest it, and spew it out through my own lens to fully get it. Mainly, I concentrate on his hero steps. Here’s how I interpret his concept, it’s pretty close to the main idea:
1. There’s a soon-to-be hero. He’s in his zone of comfort.
2. But, he wants something.
3. He enters an unfamiliar situation because of that want.
4. He adapts to it.
5. He gets what he wanted.
6. But, he pays a heavy price.
7. He returns to that same familiar situation.
8. Having changed.
You can watch almost every movie and read every decent fiction book with this idea in mind. You’ll be amazed by how much it appears to be the framework across a variety of mediums. I’ve always felt that you must know your foundation BEFORE you embark on a creative endeavor. You must, at least, have an understanding of the skeleton you wish to hang your meat on.
I think in some ways this idea can also apply to blogging and focusing your blog. For example, if you ask yourself the following, it might help you get clarity on what you’re trying to do:
1. Who is the hero of your blog? Is it food? Is it the parent trying to get it right? Is it the music? Who is the hero?
2. What thing (or thing) is that hero fighting against? Conflict is built into our very human fabric. If you approach conflict through your stories in some way – even if it’s to avoid it or bypass it and you talk about that – it’s going to be compelling.
3. What do you want from your blog? How are you going to get it?
4. How do you change to grow, but at the same time, keep the content that’s working? In other words, how do you evolve?
The last thing I’ve learned from Dan Harmon is to not work with a-holes (Chevy Chase, perhaps?) and to always be authentic. (I think Harmon is authentic almost to a fault sometimes, but as a comedian, I truly respect it.) I’ve understood those two things for a long time (be authentic, stay away from the cray-cray), but it’s always nice to have them re-confirmed in real world situations.
What about you guys? Is there another famous or not-so-famous writer that you’ve learned a lot from?
Quick End Note: I’m going to mention this because online communities are important to me and I think that this blog has a great one. Some of you may or may not remember the Reggie Post #3 that I did on a wonderful comedian and human being, Brad Stewart – aka Caption America. In that profile, I mentioned that Brad went home to Nebraska to take care of his dad. Recently, Brad’s dad passed on. Of course, his heart is hurting. So, if you have a moment to head over to Caption America and leave a kind word, I think he would appreciate it.
Okay, that’s it. As always, thank you for reading. Feel free to forward, re-blog, or share with a friend using any of the buttons below.
Sweet Mother is updated daily. Click the “follow” at the top of the page to receive an email regarding new content.
You might also like: