by James Altucher: How
To Be a Human
I was first
called “Charlie Brown” in 8th grade. I refused to stand
up and say the Pledge of Allegiance with the other kids. I didn’t
like being forced to do anything. Afterwards some kids came up to
Brown,” one of them said, “you a commie?”
I said, “I just don’t like being forced to do something.”
more like a Linus,” Larry Sorbino said. Having stayed back
a grade or so he was having more sex than anyone else in junior
high school. I was definitely jealous of him. Everyone laughed because
he was the leader of the roost. “Linus, hahaha.” And then
for the next few months people would pass me in the hallway and
sneer, “Hey Linus, haha” or, when they forgot who Linus
was, “Hey Charlie Brown, haha!”
Since I was
about 4 years old I had been buying the Charlie Brown collected
strips. Usually after a doctor’s visit my mom would get me
a book of the strips. I was thinking this the other day because
I took my kids to Friendly’s. The waitress came over and said,
“what would you guys like?”
I said, “first off, about 38 years ago I left a Charlie Brown
book in a Friendly’s by accident and when my mom and I came
back to look for it it was already gone and I’m wondering if
since then anyone has reported it lost or if it’s maybe in
the lost and foud.”
the waitress said, “I’ll check.”
both my daughters said and they were embarrassed. Why’d they
have to have a daddy like me? Even Claudia said, “oh no.”
I said, “I’m serious. I really wanted to read that book
and my mom had just gotten it for me. We were coming from the doctor’s
office. I had a vaccine shot then. I needed Charlie Brown.”
the creator of Charlie Brown, wrote the strip from 1950 to 2000,
just about every day. He was basically a blogger. I don’t even
know if he missed a single day.
to come up with ideas that are meaningful every day. But he did.
Here’s 7 things I learned by reading his various biographies
and also by probably reading every strip he every produced.
1) He made
over a billion dollars in his lifetime. Nowadays when we think
of a billion dollars we think of a guy like Mark Zuckerberg or the
Groupon guys, who seem to have made a billion dollars overnight.
We get jealous (I do) and think, “I could’ve done that.
These guys got lucky.” But Charles Schulz showed that through
recessions, stagflation, wars, high taxes, low taxes, whatever – persistence and making sure you’re creative every single day
so each day you outshine yourself and your peers a little bit more,
will get you a billion dollars. Creativity every day is the key
2) He had
a creative process. I may have mentioned my own process before.
I wake up around 5am, give or take. I drink 3 cups of coffee and
by the third cup I’m at the computer writing. I read for about
an hour – only strong autobiographical voices (fiction or non-fiction)
My Summer Reading List], then I write a blog post. I write at
least a post a day even if I don’t post every day. It takes
me anywhere from a half hour to eight hours to write a post. A typical
post is 800 – 2000 words.
process: He woke up and ate a jelly donut. Then he’d try to
come up with an idea, a process he said took him between a few minutes
to 3 hours. Then he would draw and ink up the strip, which would
take up to another three hours. He “posted” every day,
7 days a week.
I think creativity
doesn’t happen spontaneously. I think the key is persistent
exercise of the creative muscle. Doing the same process every day
so your brain and body expect it and know what to do once you are
“in process”. That makes the possibility of having spontaneous
GREAT ideas come out during those hours much more natural and easy.
ways to light your creativity ON FIRE]
happens over decades. I said this in #1. But it’s a specific
point also. Charles Bukowski wrote for three decades before he was
able to make a living at it. Charles Schulz built Charlie Brown
into a powerhouse over the course of five decades. For the first
two decades of Warren Buffett’s investing career, nobody knew
who he was. Now he’s the richest man in the world. [See
8 Unusual Things I Learned From Warren Buffett]
This is a hard
thing for me to learn. I’ve been on and off writing for two
decades, writing professionally for one, but only blogging for less
than one year. And sometimes I’m really impatient for traffic,
etc. But I don’t even quite know what it is I want yet. I’m
very confused on this point. The only thing I know I want to do
is write / post every day and build community around the posts.
Schulz ultimately drew 17,897 strips. One critic said that its arguably
“the longest story ever told by one person”.