The Great Courses meets your favorite celebrity experts is the type of “idea sex” (combining two great concepts, like peanut butter and chocolate) designed to excite, and l I bought a Masterclass subscription for Malcolm Gladwell’s course on writing after seeing it advertised to me on Facebook.
Like the other masterclass courses, Gladwell’s is shot beautifully. It’s a personal experience, and you’ll feel like you’re chatting in a living room.
Each 10-15 minute lecture – it’s more accurate to say it’s a conversation – contains a PDF worksheet.
Masterclass delivers on the celebrity experience aspect of its marketing, and the course is fun.
Will it help new or struggling writers? That’s harder to say, as the course isn’t as deep as it could be.
For example, “Episode 21 – Working as a Writer,” contains this advice in the 2 page download:
Different doesn’t necessarily mean better. Trying to be better than everyone you’re competing with is setting the bar too high. But you do want to give readers a reason to read you. Embrace the parts of your style or identity that make you different. People want a glimpse of a perspective different from their own.
This is the type of advice you’ll find in the success meme-o-sphere, “Mindset is everything,” “You have to really want it,” and, “Buy low, sell high.” Yes….And what exactly does that look like?
Gladwell’s says he hasn’t become a U.S. citizen because being Canadian makes him feel different. This, like a lot of the material in the course, is shallow and lacks vulnerability.
What makes Gladwell different is his ability to churn complicated academic research into smooth theories. Why does he have this ability? Was he curious as a child? Does he push boundaries in personal conversations, asking you what only your therapist is allowed to ask? Is he nosey? Does he walk around people’s homes and look at what books they read?
Gladwell also has a calming voice, which is another way he’s different from most writers. His voice is hypnotic. The pacing is too good to be natural. Did he take voice lessons? Was he born with this magnificent voice?
I’d bet that people who know Gladwell would undoubtedly say he struggles with vulnerability. He doesn’t go deep in his class.
(Funny story: Via synchronicity, I once sat near Gladwell while he was on a date, and took notes and listened in more than I should have.)
Should you buy Malcolm Gladwell’s Masterclass?
Yes, it’s a no-brainer, at least if you’re a writer or even a fan of Gladwell. It’s the type of celebrity behind-the-scenes stuff we all love. (I don’t have sponsorship with them or anything, you can pick up his masterclass here.)
What No One Tells You About Writing.
Writing is a mental illness.
Writers can’t not write. If you don’t feel like risking your personal relationships and reputation for your art, you’re likely not cut out for writing.
There’s a reason writers don’t sell you on the idea of writing. Think about that for a minute. If you’re doing something you love, like taking hot yoga or soul cycle, you tell your friends.
When is the last time you read an article saying, “Writing is great. You should become a writer!”
There’s a reason for that. Writing is a terrible profession to be in, and you’d have to be literally insane to choose the profession.
Writing isn’t an identity, it’s a habit.
Writers write. This should be obvious. Move to Los Angeles or New York. Everyone is working on a script or a book. Everyone loves the idea of writing. How many people have published a book or made a movie?
You’ll toil in obscurity for years.
No one outside a few friends or family members will pretend to care about your writing. If you’re lucky, they’ll only have to pretend for a year or two, as by then you’ll have 100 or so readers. If you’re not lucky, it’ll take decades for you to make it. You won’t have any influence. You’ll wonder why are you spending thousands of hours writing. You’ll do the math and see you’re making less than $1 an hour.
Writing is the worst business to be in.
As a self-published author, I make $6 a book. Those who go with big publishing houses earn $2-3 a book. I average 2.5 books per person. (Some buy the audio, paperback, and Kindle versions of Gorilla Mindset, and others buy additional copies.) That’s $15 per customer. Run the math on that.
From a business perspective, I’d rather have people buy a Cernovich brand of toothpaste, because that’s a product people use regularly for years.
Speaking of new companies, we recently launched Gorilla Dream. Almost everyone has some sort of sleeping problem, and 75% of people have tried a “sleep aid” in the last year.
If you love Gorilla Dream, you don’t buy a bottle once. You buy a bottle every 45 days for years. (Thank you for that!)
Writing is selling.
Oh you don’t like selling?
In my most charming Southern house wife accent, let me say, “Bless your heart.”
The average book sells 2,000 copies in its lifetime and 250 copies per year. Yes, that’s right.
People aren’t going to discover your books and do the marketing for you. You’re going to have to learn how to sell books.
And if you can sell books, you can sell anything. You can sell high-margin, subscription-based products. If you’re effective at selling, why sell books?
(Because writing is a mental illness, that’s why!)
Books are a declining business.
I used to read 1-2 books a read. Now I read….1 a month? Although reading is a book is more rewarding than scrolling news headlines, social media gives us an immediate dopamine spike, where as books make us work for the payoff. Welcome to Internet addiction.
“Should I become a writer?”
If you’re asking that question, the answer is obvious. (Hint: Run, don’t walk, away from writing.)
Writing does have some huge upsides, once you’ve “made it.”
Some say I have influenced world affairs as well, which is simultaneously odd and gratifying to think about.
Others have told me that their lives were changed and sometimes they were saved after finding my writing. More than one person has said my writing prevented him from committing suicide.
I’ve met people all across the world, we have incredible seminars, I’m able to work from home and have dinner with my daughter every night.
If you want to be a writer, don’t quit your day job. Wake up 30 minutes before a real job to work on your writing. After a few years, it’ll have been worthwhile, even if you never reach Gladwellian heights.
P.S. If you like this article, you’ll love my book. Buy it today.