Don’t Break the Chain: Advice From a Comedy Legend

If you want to master a craft you need to work hard and show up every single day with a beginner’s mindset. Becoming a successful comedian is no different.

Legendary comic, Jerry Seinfeld, has mastered his craft. He did so by writing a new joke every day. Over time his jokes got funnier and funnier. The same process will work for you.

Don’t Break The Chain

Seinfeld famously used a habit-tracking technique to help him become a comedic legend. It’s commonly referred to as the “don’t break the chain” strategy. You simply write a joke every day and track your daily progress on a calendar by creating an X each day you complete your task.

One night, a young comic named Brad Isaac found himself in the same comedy club where Seinfeld was performing. Issac shared what happened backstage when he had his chance to ask Seinfeld if he had “any tips for a young comic?”

“He said the way to be a better comic was to create better jokes and the way to create better jokes was to write every day.

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 is to not break the chain.”

The beauty of this approach is that Seinfeld was not focused on results; he was solely focused on the process. It didn’t matter if he was writing great jokes or not. He only cared about not breaking the chain.

Create a Writing Routine

For you to sustain a healthy habit, don’t fixate on the end goal – rock-hard abs, fluency in French, a published book. Concentrate on not breaking the chain. Do 20 pushups, learn 10 words, and write two crappy pages. With enough repetitions, the results will come. Be patient.

When you see your progress on paper, it helps you continue even when you lack motivation. In the beginning of your new writing habit, there will be times when it feels like you aren’t making progress. But, tracking your habit gives you that visual reminder of all your hard work, and encourages you to keep going even when it doesn’t seem to be paying off.

Don’t get frustrated if you aren’t where you want to be in your comedic career. Focus on one task at a time and one day at a time. The more jokes you write, the easier they will come to you, and the faster you will hear those precious laughs that fuel you moving forward.

Jeff Zaret

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