Ira Glass on Being Wrong and Manufacturing Inspiration

Dis­cuss­ing how many great stor­ies “hinge on people being wrong”, Kath­ryn Schulz inter­views This Amer­ic­an Life host Ira Glass on the bene­fits of being wrong.

I feel like being wrong is really import­ant to doing decent work. To do any kind of cre­at­ive work well, you have to run at stuff know­ing that it’s usu­ally going to fail. You have to take that into account and you have to make peace with it. […] In my exper­i­ence, most stuff that you start is mediocre for a really long time before it actu­ally gets good. And you can’t tell if it’s going to be good until you’re really late in the pro­cess. So the only thing you can do is have faith that if you do enough stuff, some­thing will turn out great and really sur­prise you. […]

I had this exper­i­ence a couple of years ago where I got to sit in on the edit­or­i­al meet­ing at the Onion. Every Monday they have to come up with like 17 or 18 head­lines, and to do that, they gen­er­ate 600 head­lines per week. I feel like that’s why it’s good: because they are will­ing to be wrong 583 times to be right 17. […]

If you do cre­at­ive work, there’s a sense that inspir­a­tion is this fairy dust that gets dropped on you, when in fact you can just man­u­fac­ture inspir­a­tion through sheer brute force. You can simply pro­duce enough mater­i­al that the thing will arrive that seems inspired.

This fant­ast­ic­ally com­pre­hens­ive inter­view is one of the best I’ve read in a while and is part of a series of inter­views on the sub­ject of ‘wrong­ness’ fol­low­ing the pub­lic­a­tion of Schulz’s book, Being Wrong: Adven­tures in the Mar­gin of Error.

Pre­vi­ous inter­viewees include Anthony Bourdain, Joe Posnanski, Diane Rav­itch and Alan Der­show­itz (part two).

via Intel­li­gent Life