Jamie Berger was one of the most engaged participants in the Creative Focus Workshop. He was dramatic and expressive about how chaotic and out of control he felt.
This was Jamie back in March:
I’ve run up my Idea Credit Lines to Idea Bankruptcy.
I know what I want/need to work on NOW—my “15 Minutes” podcast, and that’s what’s important to me to focus on here.
The goal isn’t to have one episode done, it’s to have several done before launch in May . . . or June . . . or July at the LATEST. Is that too ambitious?
He had been trying to get his podcast, 15 Minutes, about the nature of fame, off the ground for two years. All he had to show for it were some bits of interviews and a string of broken deadlines.
And here’s Jamie on May 26, only two and a half months later:
Live on iTunes & Stitcher & Tunedin today! Time to go public! Eek!
…which led me to Jessica’s website. On which, on the first page, before any of her creative work, she starts out with the fact that she helps people make their work. She writes:
“What’s wrong with me that I can’t get my work done? Is it absolutely necessary that it be this hard? Maybe I’m just not creative enough.”
Which really hit home for me, and I could repeat all those sentences with an F-word somewhere in the middle and it would more accurately reflect the two years I’d gone through, not starting the podcast.
Since starting 15 Minutes launched on May 26, Jamie has be posting dynamic new episodes, weekly, ever since.
He claims to still live in the midst of a certain level of chaos, but whatever happened for him, clearly something clicked.
Jamie is a great interviewer, and for his 15 Minutes episode, we had a wide-ranging conversation about creative people’s relationship to their work, which you should check out. The beauty of the give and take is what makes the interview so much fun, so I decided to excerpt it here.
When you came into group, your attitude was, “I am completely as sea.” You had this thing you desperately you wanted to do, and you could not figure out yourself in such a way as to make that happen.
And now you’ve got this podcast with multiple episodes. It’s a train that’s moving. And that’s really gratifying.
It’s really satisfying to see other people make their own creative lives work for them.
Yes, thank you, your workshop appeared on my horizon at just the right moment, after two years of dithering and kind of recording people, then saying “this June, it’s going to happen.”
As much as I have regressed to my somewhat chaotic self…
It was having a boss. Like it or not, that was you.
And even that first group video meeting, seeing those dozen faces, and knowing there’s a little community of people (probably a much bigger community) struggling to get things done.
And the community…It’s not a one-way relationship. I learn so much from my students. I couldn’t have developed this course—I have my own special problems with creative productivity, you have your own problems—I couldn’t have developed this without really listening.
The tools you talk about, Trello and other things, I used them during the workshop, I used the sheets you had us do, and all that helped me get started and get rolling.
And now, it’s all dropped away, but I am doing my work every week. I’m finding a way to get it done, without having the on-paper or on-screen spreadsheet to do so.
I think the key is the sense of ownership over it, that it’s possible. When it comes down to it, that’s the basic thing.
There’s something about your personality and how matter of fact you were about it. There’s kind of this underlying sense of, “Get over yourself, just do it.”
“Here’s a wrench, shut up.”
I’ve probably taken 50 workshops in my life—writing or improvising or acting—and I’m always very skeptical. It’s the same with therapists: the more empathetic they seem, the more skeptical I am.
You took that element out of it. You didn’t make this a part of—or not a part of—the workshop. There was something about it that was, “What specifically you are doing is not my problem, I’m just helping you do it.”
I fear my own subjectivity…I can be very negative. I fear that therapists and teachers, they’re looking at my stuff and thinking that it’s crap.
In your workshop that very quickly became a non-issue.
Maybe it’s serendipity, maybe it’s your workshop, or maybe I just found a medium that I like better than I ever liked writing?
I’m just gonna do it because I have more fun at it. And I love editing.
The combination of those factors is getting me to a place where I’ll suddenly be 3 years down the line. It’s hard for me to stop. I actually need to take a break to catch up with some recording, but I don’t want to stop making one every week.
That’s a great feeling. Knowing that is what will keep you going,
Yeah, it’s great!
Jamie Berger makes 15 Minutes: a podcast about fame. He talks and listens and writes and teaches and co-owns a bar called the Rendezvous in Western Massachusetts, where he lives with his wife, photographer Anja Schutz and various dogs and cats. He has taken the normal Albany to NYC to San Francisco to Turners Falls route in life.