Arts & Entertainment, Writing

Turning Observations Into Stories

David Sedaris

Lesson time 16:54 min

Using examples from his own writing, David shows you how to take ideas from your diary and start expanding them into an essay.

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Topics include: Mine Your Diary


[MUSIC PLAYING] - I used to write in the evening. And then I quit drinking. And when I quit drinking and I sat down in the evening, I thought, I don't know if I can do this, because there should be booze on my table. So I thought, well, I'll change the time of day that I write, because I'm not used to having booze on my table at 10 o'clock in the morning. So I started writing in the morning. And then eventually I was able to write in the morning and at night as well. So I usually get up, and I go straight to my desk. And I start by writing in my diary. And then I turn to whichever essay I've been working on. I work from 10:00 till 1:30. And then I go out and I pick garbage up off the roads until 8 o'clock at night. And then I sit down at my desk for another hour and work some more. And I have dinner. Sometimes I go back to work after dinner, but usually not. I know for myself, it's very important to write every single day. I meet a lot of young writers who say-- and I say, do you write every day? And they say, no, but just-- you know, I write when it strikes me. I don't know. I suppose that might work for some people. I'm not really the one to say, but it would never have worked for me, you know? If you're-- so much happens by sitting at your desk when you don't have an idea. So many things can happen, but they're not going to happen unless you're at your desk. So you need to sit there, and not have the internet, and see what happens. You just have to do the work. And that means not going to the party. And it means people are really going to think you're a drag. I mean a lot of people-- I can't tell you how many people have lectured me over the years and said, well, you can come out to dinner just this once. Or why can't you come to the party? You're being horribly selfish by not doing this. And everybody else is going to be there. I've met so many people who say, well, I really want to write, but I work all day. So did I. You work all day, and then you come home and you write. If it means that much to you, you're going to find the time to do it. That's not-- that's never an excuse, to say that you don't have the time. And there are a lot of people out there who are happy to give 10%. But I don't know any of them who-- I don't know their names, because they don't have books. [MUSIC PLAYING] So I thought I would read a few little diary entries here. Some of them I went on to turn into stories and essays. And others, I just have them in a file so that-- I feel like they all get a good response, and they're all strong openers. The thing is they're incidents. They're vignettes. They're not essays, right? So November 13, 2015. Spokane, Washington. I was in a murderous temper yesterday. Part of it was lack of sleep, part was general tour fatigue, and part was left over from the night before, when the producers in Olympia stuck me in a sweltering black box from my book signing. Adam was supposed to col...

About the Instructor

With essays in The New Yorker, bestselling books like Calypso, tours, and readings on NPR, David Sedaris is one of the most recognizable essayists alive. Now he teaches you the art of personal storytelling. Learn how David crafts attention-grabbing openings, satisfying endings, and meaning from the mundane—and how he uses humor to connect with others and process the difficult and sometimes dark aspects of everyday life.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

David Sedaris

NYT–bestselling author David Sedaris teaches you how to turn everyday moments into seriously funny stories that connect with audiences.

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