How Jerry Seinfeld Helped Me Finish My First Book

I wrote the first draft of my first book (about 26,000 words) this month, with the help of Jerry Seinfeld.

“Kris, why the hell did you write a book when you’re in the middle of producing a movie?”

Good question. The most obvious reason is that since our second child is arriving this fall. It would be ridiculous to try and schedule a film shoot then. So there’s really not much to do on that project right now.

The other reason is simple: an additional revenue stream. This book isn’t a passion project—it’s a non-fiction marketing book based on what I’ve learned at my day-job and consulting gigs. I know the material works because I’ve used these tactics to bring in a ton of money for my clients.

“But what does Jerry Seinfeld have to do with this?”

Well, I’ll tell you.

What’s the deal with these awkward transitions?

Jerry Seinfeld is famous for writing every single day. He realized, early on in his career, that he needed to focus on the most important thing for a comedian to do—writing jokes.

When someone asked Seinfeld how he did it, this is the response he got:

He revealed a unique calendar system he uses to pressure himself to write. Here’s how it works.

He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker.

He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day. “After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.”

“Don’t break the chain,” he said again for emphasis.

So that’s what I did. I printed out a little calendar and stuck it to the wall by my desk. And I’d mark an X over each day I wrote 1000 words. And after a few weeks, the first draft was done. (I do the same process for editing, but instead of a word count, I just shoot for time—1.5 hours at least.)

Full disclosure: I’ve been editing for the past week and it hasn’t been perfect. A couple times, I’d only work for 45 minutes. Or I’d get lost in some research rabbit hole when I should have been working.

But it’s still been a solid month of work. It’s amazing what you can do, when you don’t break the chain.

You can get a free download of a Don’t Break The Chain Calendar at The Writer’s Store.