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How & Why To Become A More Creative, Better Writer w/ Grant Faulkner of National Novel Writing Month

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“One of the things that really disturbs me is how often I hear people say that they're not a creative type… you are a creative type, because you're a human.”
— Grant Faulkner

Greetings, SuperFriends!

Today we are going to talk about creativity, and to do that, we are inviting someone on the show who really has helped thousands and thousands of people become more creative in a way that might surprise you. His name is Grant Faulkner, and he is the executive director of National Novel Writing Month and he's the co-founder of a 100 Word Story.

Now you've seen his stories in Tin House, Southwest Review, Green Mountains Review, all kinds of different places, and you've seen his essays in the New York Times, Poets and Writers Digest, and The Writer.

Grant recently published a collection of 100 word stories, Figures and what he does is help people become more creative. He's written a book called Pep Talks for Writers, and he has a new book coming out in October.

I wanted to have Grant on the show because he has helped so many people do something that maybe they didn't think they could do: be creative and write. But in the course of the conversation we go a lot deeper and we talk about why writing and creativity are such superhuman skills, why they will change the way you think, change the way you live, and help you accomplish your goals.

It's a great episode, and I think you guys are going to find it very interesting. Grand and I have a lot of in common things as you will see. Enjoy!

This episode is brought to you by my premium online training – The Become a SuperLearner Master Class. To learn more or check out a FREE trial with no credit card required, simply click the banner above!

This episode is brought to you by Organifi. Save 20% on their highly-recommended green juice products with coupon code “superhuman.”


In this episode, we discuss:

  • Are we all creative? Or are there “creative types?”
  • Can you learn to be more creative? How?
  • What does Grant Faulkner do, and how is he helping thousands of people become more creativity
  • What does creativity mean to Grant Faulkner? How do people misunderstand what it is?
  • Why is creativity important for everyone?
  • What are some exercises you could do to improve your creativity?
  • Is it true that “All wealth comes from writing?” Why or why not?
  • What's some homework you can do this week to become a better writer? (It's easy!)
  • Thoughts on keeping a journal, and why it might be beneficial for your wellbeing (and your career)
  • Are there any other “superhuman” productivity hacks that Grant uses to be more productive (surprising!)
  • A debate over “big chunks of time” vs. small increments?
  • Who are Grant's favorite writers and books?
  • Why should you read fiction? Isn't it just a waste of time?
  • Where to get in touch and learn more from Grant
  • The #1 biggest takeaway from this episode

Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

Favorite Quotes from Grant Faulkner:

“When you write with others, your creativity is enhanced.”
“Creativity is many things, but one thing it is is attentiveness to your surroundings.”
“I happen to believe that writer's block doesn't truly exist.”
“Writing every day is a matter of introspection…. It's the SINGLE best tool for critical thinking that I can imagine.”
“We are living in the golden age of writing right now, just because of the internet.”
“One of the benefits of writing (and all creativity) is exploring your own vulnerabilities.”
“Big things are built in increments.”
“Prioritize your creativity, because you're a creator.”


Introduction: Welcome to the Becoming SuperHuman Podcast. Where we interview extraordinary people to bring you the skills and strategies to overcome the impossible. And now here's your host, Jonathan Levi.

Jonathan Levi: This episode is brought to you by “Become a Super Learner: The Masterclass” you guys if you have ever wanted to learn things faster, to read faster and waste, less time reading, boring textbooks, if you've ever wanted to have near-perfect memory for names, numbers, anything you want to learn and expand your mind and retain information in a way that you never thought possible?

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All you have to do is go to And if you choose to pick up the full course, you will also get an incredible discount for listeners of this podcast only. So please make sure to check it out and support the show and on to today's episode.

This episode is brought to you by Organifi. You guys, one of the only things that every nutritional expert that we've had on the show seems to actually agree on is that we all need to eat more vegetables, eat more greens, eat organic, cut out all the processed junk. Well, who has the time, right? Who has the time to go out, do the shopping, make the salads, make the juices, make the smoothies?

And that's what I love so much about Organifi. Their product is an all-organic green juice. It has all of the nutrients that you need. It tastes absolutely amazing. And it's made by wonderful people who I consider to be personal friends and as listeners of this show, you guys can actually save 20% on your first order and all you have to do is go to, that's and use the coupon code superhuman at checkout.

Greetings SuperFriends and welcome to this week's episode. You guys, before we get started, I want to read you this review from Eric Bison, from the US of A who says “Great show, highly recommended, five stars. Jonathan and his guests share inspiring and actionable lessons on how to achieve all of your goals in life physically, emotionally, and financially, highly recommended listening. If you want to level up conquer fears, become the best version of yourself, and live your ideal life. Wow. Thank you, Eric. I really appreciate the review. And for everyone else out there, well, I have a proposition for you guys. See, I'm actually thinking about putting the show on hold at episode number 150.

That's 10 episodes away from now. Now I know some of you guys might be upset about that. Some of you guys might say no problem. You might want to follow us over to YouTube, where I'm going to be publishing more content. But if you don't want to see this show, be put on hold at 150 episodes.

Leave a review. And let me know, tell me that you guys want more episodes, and share with me what kind of episodes you'd want to hear? What topics do you guys want to cover? I'm feeling like we've covered a lot of stuff, but I'm sure there are things out there that we can cover that would add value and help you guys overcome the impossible.

So let me know, and I will do an episode and keep doing episodes now on to today's episode. Today, we are going to talk about creativity guys. And to do that, we are inviting someone on the show who really has helped thousands and thousands of people become more creative in a way that might surprise you.

His name is Grant Faulkner and he is the executive director of national novel writing month. And he's the co-founder of a hundred-word story. Now, you've seen his stories in tin house, Southwest review, green mountains review all kinds of different places. And you've seen as essays in the New York times, poets and writers digest and the writer.

Now Grant recently published a collection of hundred-word stories, fishers. And what he does is help people become more creative. He's written a book called pep talks for writers, and he has a new book coming out in October. Now, I wanted to have Grant on the show because he has helped so many people do something that maybe they didn't think they could do, which is be creative and write.

But in the course of the conversation, we go a lot deeper and we talk about why writing and creativity are such superhuman skills, why they will change the way you think change the way you live, and help you accomplish your goals. So, it's a great episode. I think you guys are going to find it very interesting Grant and I have a lot of in common things as you will see.

And so without any further ado, allow me to present to you. My new superfriend, Mr. Grant, Faulkner

Mr. Grant Faulkner. Welcome to the show, my friend. And thank you for making the time. I know you're a little under the weather, so I appreciate you soldiering on.

Grant Faulkner: Thank you so much, Jonathan, I'm really looking forward to our conversation.

Jonathan Levi: Me too. You know, creativity, I have to say is one of those things that people ask me about a lot and not because I'm known for creativity, but because successfully implementing memory techniques and mnemonic techniques, a lot of times requires creativity to come up with all kinds of visualizations and to creatively use memory palaces and apply the techniques.

And it's always something that I want to tell people, you can do this. Then stop saying you're not creative. And I hope today my goal for the episode is to really give people a framework and an understanding as to how they can improve their creativity.

Grant Faulkner: Absolutely. You know, one of the things that really disturbs me is how often I hear people say, they're not a creative type. I tell them you're a creative type because you're a human, you know, every single human being is a creator. So my purpose in life is to activate that.

Jonathan Levi: I love that. So let's start on that point a little bit because I don't understand a whole lot about the neuroscience or psychology of creativity. One thing that I do know, and something that we teach in our courses is that we're all born highly creative.

I think everyone knows and acknowledges that we all become less creative as we get into the one field of expertise. But what I've heard is that creativity is actually very, very fast to learn that in a matter of days or weeks doing kind of simple exercises, you can become more creative. Have you found that to be true?

Grant Faulkner: Yeah, absolutely. And in fact, that's part of the premise of national novel writing month or NaNoWriMo as it's popularly known, and also the focus of the book that I'm coming out with in October, October 3rd, pep talks for writers, 52 insights, and actions to boost your creative mojo. And the reason NaNoWriMo I'll, I'll just give this as an example.

I feel like it has a superhuman formula and our premise is that everyone has a story to tell. And then everyone's story matters. So fundamentally we welcomed people in and our premises to empower them, to tell their story. And the way we do that is the month of November 30 days, a goal and a deadline serve as a creative midwife.

So the goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days or 1,667 words a day. So it's challenging, but it's doable. And the reason that's doable is that we guide people to the banish, their internal editor, meaning any internal voice or external voice, that's the naysaying voice. And to just jump in and write with abandon, we have the premise that you're a writer because you write.

You're not a writer because you're published or you're getting awards. You're a writer in the act of writing. And then we put in a system of accountability. We have a lot of tracking tools on our website. So people need to update their word count every day to see where they are on the trajectory of meeting 50,000 words in a month.

And we provide rewards for incremental achievements, we have a badge system on the site for us to hitting certain milestones, and we also encourage people to give themselves a reward. For those big achievements and that they think about what's meaningful to them. And then I think one crucial part of what we are, we're not just an event, we're a wildly encouraging community. And that happens online on our forums. We get about a million forum posts on every topic under the sun related to writing and creativity. And also in person, we have a thousand volunteers around the world. Who organized writing gatherings called write-ins and people write together.

And we also have a thousand libraries across the United States, same thing, librarians organizing writing gatherings. And there's a huge power in doing something with other people. And writing is also. Often characterize it as a solitary act. And it obviously is in many ways, but we break down that mythology because we feel that when you write with others, your creativity is enhanced.

So it's kind of a big package of superhuman powers that we provide.

Jonathan Levi: I love it. So let me backpedal a little bit Grant because I want to kind of make a really important point. And I think that you have a probably really genius way of making it, which is, I think a lot of people, especially we were talking before the episode, you know, a lot of people think that they're not creative. And I think part of that is a lot of people don't see creativity as an important part of their lives. They think, well, you know, I'm a doctor. I need to play things by the book. I don't need creativity. And I think there's a misunderstanding of what creativity means. So I want to ask you first off, you know, what does creativity mean to someone like yourself? Who's made a career out of it, but also why is creativity important for everybody?

Grant Faulkner: Yeah. You know, that's a really good point. I think as you mentioned at the beginning of the episode, people start out as creators, right? You go to a preschool and you see kids just jump into finger painting, and no matter what type of kid they are, but as we get older and the practical concerns of our lives or our own self-definitions, they kind of intrude on that creativity and limit it.

I think what creativity is. I mean, there's many things, but one thing it is its attentiveness to yourself and your surroundings. And I think just in the case of stories, I think stories are often, you know, minimized as, you know, entertainment, but our stories and our creativity shape everything. We do, you know?

If you're writing, you're re-imagining your world. No matter if it's a sci-fi novel or literary fiction or romance stories, help us see through other people's eyes and build tolerance and empathy and stories, help connect us to other people. So just to use the example that you gave the doctor, He could use all these things, right?

If he's a writer and that's one part of NaNoWriMo is that we're not necessarily guiding people to publishing. We're guiding people to creativity and to make it a priority for one month. And once you experience the power of making it a priority for one month, we hope that you carry that into the next 11 months.

So, yeah, I think like writing whatever the creative practice is that calls you. I think you. By making it a priority for a month, you'll realize the powers, it gives you just by doing it.

Jonathan Levi: Right. And I think it's important for people to realize that creativity is, is so much more than just creating. I think in some sense, you know, I don't know Dexter's actual definition, but I think creativity is a little bit misnamed because people think of it as creating something new, you know, generating art, writing stories, but really creativity is kind of divergent thinking and it can be problem-solving, it can be creative ways to express yourself.

I mean, I always try to use creativity when I'm talking to people and describe things in different creative ways. Creativity can be ways to look at various interpersonal situations you have and think of new and maybe innovative ways to tackle different kind of uncomfortable situations.

So I definitely agree with you that once you start improving your creativity and changing the way that you actually think and approach life's challenges, I think you realize many, many benefits that maybe we don't classically define as creativity.

Grant Faulkner: Yeah. I like your word, divergent thinking. I mean, when you're creative, you really are bringing in all these wild juxtapositions of things in your mind, and you are creating something new in the sense that you're recombining things.

And that's why I mentioned that. Attentiveness, you're attentive to your internal thoughts. You're attentive to the world. You're attentive to other people. And by being really attentive and attuned, you're going to create new thoughts kind of effortlessly. I think, I mean, one part of creativity is that deliberate sitting down every day and doing it.

But one part of creativity is that attentiveness. And that's when it flows through your entire life.

Jonathan Levi: Definitely. So I want to get into, I mean, obviously, you guys do a very specific process, which is helping people, right. But I want to get into not only that, but the broader range. I mean, clearly, you're a firm believer that people can improve their creativity.

So I want to ask how can people actually do it? What does it take to become a more creative person?

Grant Faulkner: Well, a lot of things, but I think one thing is kind of what we're talking about here is the declaration to yourself of claiming that you are a creator and putting yourself, I don't know if it's putting yourself up on that pedestal, but I think too many people, I know writers who've written for decades and they are hesitant to call themselves a writer because they haven't published enough.

So if you claim yourself as a writer, It will empower you to believe that you can sit down and write a novel, you know, so you'll sit down and make it a priority and do it not just for a month, but for a year or two. And I think like, just by being a creative part of NaNoWriMo and writing a novel in a month, it's a creative experiment to start with.

And being a creator is constantly examining your creative process. And so when you're a creator every day, you're constantly. Thinking about where are you falling short? What's working and you're building a system that works for yourself. Every writer, every creator is different, but the only way to really get there, I think, I mean, it's great to read the how-to books. It's great to take classes. It's great to participate in community. All those things are wonderful, but at the end, you have to sit down and do it and really do it in a deliberate way. I think they call it deliberate practice so that you're not just writing, but thinking about what you're writing and how to improve it.

Jonathan Levi: I like that. So it is really just a matter of practicing and I guess I would add one of the things we teach in our courses is just one example. This multiple uses test, right? Where you take an object and you just try and generate a bunch of new uses. And I think, you know, that test is great because it is just a simple tool that I can give someone.

I can hand them a pen and say, give me 20 ways you could use this pen. And pretty quickly they start to think of, well, it could be a jousting rod for a mouse and they start to get with really creative ideas. But more important than that, I think it's exactly illustrating what you're saying, where when you just sit down and you do the work of trying to think in new and interesting ways, for example, if you have to generate writing every day, you're going to start realizing that you have to start breaking boundaries and you start having to think in different ways.

Grant Faulkner: Yeah, exactly. And you know, one way we do that is, you know, there's this popular concept of writer's block. And I happen to believe that writer's block doesn't truly exist.

And one way we do that, it's kind of like your pen exercise. We call them word sprints. And so it's like you sit down and for five minutes you write as much as you can and you might get a prompt. Uh, from one of our volunteers or on Twitter, or give yourself a prompt. But the thing is, is that just completely open yourself and write anything.

And when you write anything, one sentence breeds, another sentence, which breeds another sentence. And I think it's in that kind of, um, improvisational space that sometimes the best ideas occur.

Jonathan Levi: I like that. I like that a lot. I have another kind of tough question. I'm giving you a lot of tough questions that, you know, Just come on.

I have a friend Dr. Anthony Mitivier, who told me something a long, long time ago, and I immediately disagreed. And over the years I've started to agree more and more. He told me that all wealth comes from writing. I want to hear your thoughts on that because you've shared the gift of writing with so many thousands of people.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on it. Just kind of off the top of your head.

Grant Faulkner: Yeah, well, I have some assumptions about what he means by wealth, but what did he mean by wealth? Just so I know.

Jonathan Levi: That's actually a really great starting point for the question. I assume he meant monetary wealth. I thought, you know, wealth in terms of happiness and joy also could be. But I think in the context of this conversation, we were talking about monetary wealth.

Grant Faulkner: Okay. I was going to go the other way and talk about spiritual wealth, but let's talk about monetary wealth. I think he's right on both occasions, even though so many writers are poor, but to his point, I guess I would say, and not knowing the context of the whole conversation, of course, but I mean, writing every day, it's a matter of introspection, right? It's a matter of looking out into the world and thinking about ways that you can reimagine that it's the single best tool for critical thinking that I can imagine. I'd love for somebody to give me a better tool for critical thinking. I mean, writing is thinking language is the main tool of thinking.

And I think, you know, just what we were touching on earlier too, is that, you know, so much about building wealth. People think of it as just these days is more of like a kind of peer data-driven thing or that you're just, you're finding this wonderful startup to invest in and you get lucky, but wealth and leadership and management, and so many aspects of life are about empathy and working with people and collaboration.

And so, again, not that writing is the tool for that. Uh, but the arts in general, Are really wonderful ways to build those skills. So I think there are very practical, real world skills that come from writing and creativity that can lead to wealth.

Jonathan Levi: I like that a lot. And that definitely echoes. I was listening recently to a very old episode of the, I love marketing podcast and they were asking, you know, what's one of the best things that people can do out there to improve their moneymaking capacity. And what he said, what Tim said was just start writing, because writing teaches you to structure your thoughts and arguments. It teaches you to think in ways that are going to communicate things to people and whether that's for marketing or that's for, you know, meeting the pretty girl at the bar, learning to communicate better is one of the most powerful skills.

And I think another thing that's interesting is, you know, I'm reading right now, a book by Yuval, Noah Harari, homo deuce. So it's the SQL to his book sapiens. And it turns out that writing, the systems of writing down information on paper happened along about the same time as we started money. So writing was a system for tracking money and accounting.

And so if you want to take the broader sense, you know, writing books will create wealth and writing contracts will create wealth and writing stock, you know, deals and IPO's will create wealth, but also accounting is writing. And so these two things of, of communicating your thoughts and ideas on paper and money.

You know, transactions commerce literally were created at the same time by the Sumerians. And I think that's just an interesting aside, really big tangent, if you will, on just the importance of writing and that everyone out there should learn to write and communicate thoughts and ideas.

Grant Faulkner: Absolutely. And you know, we are living in the golden age of writing right now just because of the internet.


Jonathan Levi: Yeah.

Grant Faulkner: Everyone is producing more words than they have ever produced. And with purposes, you know, writing a tweet, it's only 140 characters. So in some ways it's technically easy, but in many ways, it's super challenging because to be entertaining or persuasive or just communicating your basic thoughts in an effective matter, you know, you have to have writing skills to do that.

And so I think social media is one big sort of rough draft in motion, I guess, where people are learning to write by doing it.

Jonathan Levi: I think that's really interesting. I think there have actually been quite a few books, you know, that have come out of blog posts or come out of discussions on forums and, you know, a lot of actually really interesting things that have come out of just internet discussions, like the Cluetrain manifesto, which was a very early document kind of dictating or predicting, I should say how businesses would behave on the internet. And it came out of just a bunch of people talking on forums. I mean, Bitcoin out of a bunch of people sharing ideas and writing white papers and writing different kinds of ways that they thought cryptography should be used on message boards. And you know, and that's now a $90 billion industry.

Grant Faulkner: Yeah. And think about it just in a normal company, think about how many, you know, projects either succeed or fail because of writing, you know, the main way that people communicate these days is not really in meetings together, it's online. And so if you miscommunicate something in an email or burn a relationship because you flame somebody, you know, writing can bring things down as much as they can rise things up.

Jonathan Levi: I think that's a really, really great point. So at this point, Greg, I'm realizing we have our audience chomping at the bit and ready to commit themselves. I hope to doing a lot of writing you and I certainly can share and have shared our experience that writing and learning how to write has been one of the most important skills in my life.

And I had a lot of great teachers that gave me a lot of homework throughout middle school, grade school, high school, college. That taught me how to write, but I think not everyone is so fortunate. And for that reason, I would love, if you could share some homework with our audience, that they can maybe do this week to start seeing some of these benefits and maybe open up their eyes to the fact that they can and should begin writing and begin creating.

Grant Faulkner: Yeah. Let me think about this. I think just to go back to what I was saying earlier, that one wonderful thing about creativity and writing is being attentive to the world and paying attention to the world. And so I think one thing would be really interesting for people to set themselves a goal of one week and to simply write down one observation per day.

So it can be really anything. You could write a poetic sentence about the clouds. You could write a description of a person, an interesting person you saw on a cafe. You could even write an internal observation of one of your moods, but I think like that practice. This of writing one thing every day, about an observation.

It trains you you'll have more than one observation a day. You'll have, it'll start to turn into five or 10 or 20. So you'll. You'll approach every day a little bit more thoughtfully. And then just to build on that a little bit, I'm very fascinated. I'm a lifetime journaler. I've been keeping a journal since I was about seven years old.

Jonathan Levi: Oh, wow.

Grant Faulkner: But it's taken many different forms and purposes, and that's what really intrigues me and the author, David Sedaris, he is a way more obsessive and fanatic journaler than I am. So I'd been any, it just came out with a book that includes excerpts of his journals over the years. And he builds all of his books through his journals.

So he'll wake up every morning and write down all of his reflections from the previous day. And oftentimes those lead into essays and books, I think it'd be a good week-long project. And maybe more if people like it is to write one journal entry per day and practice in the journal entry, going beyond just observations and to really go deeply into yourself. Think about if you can write something that you're actually embarrassed by or would be embarrassed to show someone else or even recognize yourself because one of the benefits of writing and all creativity is exploring your own vulnerabilities. And the books that make the biggest mark in the world are really those when the author has really made himself or herself vulnerable, so really go deep for a week and just see how it changes you.

Jonathan Levi: I really liked that. I think that's a really great experiment and I can definitely, like I said, communicate to people that my way of thinking and my way of seeing the world in my way of even treating other people has really changed as I've started to consider myself as a writer. And it took actually a long time, because for a while it was, well, no, I make online courses, you know, I didn't make that declarative statement.

You know, and then while I write podcasts, it doesn't matter that I write the questions in advance. And I kind of know where I want to take the conversation. I didn't know, I'm not a writer. And then I wrote a book and even then I was like, well, it's just adapted from my lectures. And eventually, I kind of started owning that I am a writer and that I write and create and communicate for a living.

And it's really changed the way that I think. And, uh, you know, if anyone follows me on Facebook, they see that I write these long thought outposts and I structure my thoughts in a certain way, and I make arguments in a certain way. And that all comes from writing and from doing exactly what you said, acknowledging myself as a writer.

Grant Faulkner: Good for you. Yeah, I think you laid it out perfectly. It's amazing how so many people can be writing every day and not make that claim. Whereas they might cook every night or love cookbooks and call themselves a cook. Or if they run, they call themselves a runner. But they're hesitant to say that they're a writer.


Jonathan Levi: I think that is pretty funny. I wanted to actually ask you before we shift gears, are there any other kinds of skills or habits that you feel make you more creative and, or make you perform at a higher level in your work?

Grant Faulkner: Yeah, you know, I live a hectic life. I mean, my job is very demanding. I have two kids, I run a literary journal called 100-word story that we're coming out with a book next spring, and I'm a writer.

And so it's really hard to carve out that time to write every day. And so I'm a big believer in routines. And trying to write every day. And sometimes I wake up a couple hours before work and that's great. I can write in those two hours sometimes I can't manage that. And so I call it a time hunt. I think time management is a big obstacle for a lot of people.

And I find that I have to seize the nooks and crannies of the day. So I have to really be attuned to when I have a 5 or 10 minute time period that I can fill in a productive way. You know? So for instance, instead of going on Facebook or Twitter, instead of binge-watching a Netflix show, maybe I can claim that time and write 500 words or even 250 words.

And, you know, you can write 250 words and a half an hour. And if you write 250 words a day for a year, I can't do the math off the top of my head, but you know, big things are built in increments. And so sometimes I think writers wait for those periods that are idyllic, you know, to have, uh, eight hours to write or four hours to write or a whole month to write.

And most of us, you know, life doesn't serve us ideal, like time periods. And so we really have to strategize about how to use time in the best way possible. And especially once I had kids, I had to totally reconceived my writing life.

Jonathan Levi: How do you manage to do it? I'm curious. I mean, do you write best in the morning? Do you write best in the evening or is it literally you write when you can.

Grant Faulkner: Kind of all the above, but I'm best in the morning. And that's why I've been trying to structure my life more and more so I can get deep sleep at night. I usually need about six hours of sleep, which means that if I go to bed at 10, I can get up at 4 and I can have those two to three hours of pretty pure time before I have to get up and walk the dog and take the kids to school.

But that said going back to what I said earlier, sometimes I can't do that or I need to write more. And so it is about like finding, maybe I can write 15 minutes during my lunch break. Maybe I can write 10 minutes after I put the kids to bed at night. I like this story of Toni Morrison. She wrote her first novel. She was a single working mom. I think she had two kids and she wrote for 15 minutes every night before she went to bed, it was her worst time to write. She was completely exhausted, but that's how she built that novel just through little pieces every day. And I think sometimes we forget the superhuman power of increments.

Jonathan Levi: That's so interesting because, in a sense, I agree with you. And I've told people, you know, you can learn a language by using that five minutes of waiting for the bus to review flashcards instead of scrolling through Facebook. And at the same time, somehow for something like writing, you know, everyone always talks about the flow state and that, you know, you need hours of time on end, you know, one of our best episodes with David Heinemeier Hansson was him kind of talking about how he has managed to get so much done and create so much.

And he talks about, you know, I block off four to five, six hour chunks, and it's interesting to hear this different perspective that, yeah, that's great but you know, who can get six hours at a time to work and right. You know, for us mere mortals who don't have that kind of control over our time, you can still get a lot done in 15-minute increments.

Grant Faulkner: I think so. I mean, I try to practice both of course and NaNoWriMo in November, certainly. I mean, that's when I write the rough drafts of every novel I work on. So it's great to get 50,000 words to start and kind of have that big chunk of time that I've prioritized for a month, but I don't think you can do that every month or most people can't, especially if they work jobs and have families.

And so I really do think it's like, like, you know, really think about how you spend time and during your day, and really think about what things you could give up in order to learn another language or spend that five minutes writing your story.

Jonathan Levi: I think that's great. I think that's really great. And it's definitely a matter of, you know, being pragmatic and understanding the limitations that you're operating under.

Grant Faulkner: Yeah, exactly.

Jonathan Levi: Let me ask you this Grant, you've helped a lot of people become writers. So I'm dying to know who are your favorite writers? What are your favorite books? What are the books that have impacted your life?

Grant Faulkner: Yeah, there's too many to list. Definitely. When I first, the lightning bulb went off in my head to become a writer.

I'd actually gone to France for a study abroad program. And I was deciding my major in college, whether to be an economics major or to be an English major, it was kind of an interesting decision, but I bet I spent the whole semester there sitting around cafes and reading and writing. So that decision became pretty clear.

And then I was reading a lot of American expatriate authors who lived in France, such as Fitzgerald and Hemingway. So I was swept up in their fiction. I'm just going to list a few other novels just because I love him so much Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry. I think it's one of the five best novels in the history of the world, but it's underappreciated.

Uh, the same goes for Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles. Uh, Dennis Johnson's Jesus' Son is just this amazing lyrical collection of short stories that it's almost like an extended prose poem. And the same goes for Housekeeping by Marilynne. Robinson is an amazing lead poetic and beautiful book, and more recently, a Open City by Tasia Coles, which is very meditative and he does something that's very interesting. They, they always say, you know, you need to have to put your characters in immediate, you know, conflict and action. And that works on a lot of respects, but his character in the novel is really just meandering through New York City. So it's a very, you know, one of the rules of writing is don't have your characters just walk around, but he has his characters just walk around. And it's a really interesting experience, you know? So, so he did it.

Jonathan Levi: Interesting. Okay. So I have to admit, I don't read a lot of fiction, but I hope to check some of those out, but I'd also wonder what would you say to someone who maybe isn't a huge fan of fiction spends a lot of time reading nonfiction kind of sell them on the idea of why they should read fiction.

Grant Faulkner: Yeah, that's a good question. I mean, I think fiction you're walking, are you, you're living with another person when I was saying earlier that writing teaches empathy and tolerance and understanding the people around you better and understanding yourself it's in partly that, because you're seeing through another person's eyes and you're living with them through their conflicts and their joys.

And so I think that's one great benefit. I also think. That the way that that fiction works in terms of the way the language is used, you know, it can be a domestic drama for instance. So it might make you more attuned to your neighborhood, your own house, the way that the author writes about these things, it can help you be attuned to the way people use language and their speech and dialogue.

It can make you attend to the very nature of conflicts between characters and how they resolve them or how they fail. You know, so I think fiction, it is about the world we live in, whether it's science fiction or literary realist fiction, every novel or story opens up a completely different world. And I think the ones that are most successful are the ones that we can see ourselves in and learn from. So it's a different type of learning. It might be less of a kind of school type of learning. It's a little bit more mysterious and mystical and emotional, but I think it's very important.

Jonathan Levi: I like that. I think that's really, really interesting. And, you know, I think there's a lot of value to be had there. I just, I've never been able to convince myself, I think, is the problem or it's always that I've had a priority hire, you know, this great new non-fiction book. That's going to change the way I do business or something like that.

Grant Faulkner: Right. I completely understand. Maybe you just have to find the right novel.

Jonathan Levi: Maybe I'm going to go through that list.

Grant Faulkner: Yeah. And give yourself a challenge. Maybe it's just like mixing it up a little bit. Cause I read nonfiction too, and I really value it of course, but I don't read as much non-fiction as fiction, but I do make sure that I put, you know, five or 10 nonfiction books on my list every year.

Jonathan Levi: Hmm. I'm curious. How much do you read in general? How many books do you try to read a year?

Grant Faulkner: You know, I was just thinking about this morning because I'm disappointed how my reading levels have dropped over the years. And largely because of living a hectic life, you know, I don't have the time to read as much as I used to. And I'm just more scattered also I don't know what pace I read on a little bit of a slow reader.

I don't know if that's good or bad, but I'm constantly reading. I usually have three, four, or five books going at the same time. Everything from a non-fiction book. For instance, I'm reading the book on, I forget the whole title, but it's on habits, right now. And I'm reading a biography of Leonard Cohen and I'm always reading a poetry book because I think, again, this is part of creativity, poetry, and fiction are oftentimes kind of two separate camps. But I think by reading poetry, my pros become much better. So I try to be very varied in my reading.

Jonathan Levi: That sounds like a smart thing. It sounds like the right thing to be doing.

Grant Faulkner: It's great. You know, they say that you know, creativity is taking very discordant or different thoughts and somehow blending them together.

And I oftentimes do think that that happens in a strange light bulb moment. You know, they say oftentimes the best thoughts happen while you're in the shower. So I do like kind of, uh, exposing myself to a lot of different things at once.

Jonathan Levi: I like that. I mean, we call that in our courses, brute force learning where you want to try and learn from many different sources in many different ways and not go down kind of the straight and narrow path. I think that definitely can be applied in kind of a more macro sense and try to learn many things at once as well. I mean, learning is a muscle and the more you learn, the more you can. So I think that's an interesting approach.

Grant Faulkner: And I think going beyond books too, because when you're saying you have a hard time making time for fiction, or prioritizing it.

I think I do the same thing right now with going to like live music or going to an art museum, things that I love to do, but somehow they don't fit in. But every time I, you know, we just started doing this in my workplace. We have every month we have a half-day where people can do anything creativity-wise that they want to.

And so I spent a whole half-day at a museum and it was amazing, the things I learned by, you know, usually I go to a museum and it might just be for an hour or two and it might be once or twice a year. So prioritizing these other kinds of, you know, experiences I think helps creativity, in general, a lot.

Jonathan Levi: Yeah, definitely. Definitely. So Grant, I know we're coming up on time here. I want to give you an opportunity to tell people a little bit about how they can learn about the stuff you're doing. Maybe join a November challenge and just give you kind of the mic to get people involved in all the various causes you're working on.

Grant Faulkner: Yeah, absolutely. You know, we have, uh, an exciting national novel writing month that we're working hard to plan right now. It officially starts November 1, but you can sign up as of now and it's free, we're non-profit so just to sign up on and enter you're, you know, it's kind of like a social media site, you set up the profile, you describe your novel. And then we send a lot of misces in resources and guides from, you know, renowned authors and things like that. And you can just like learn about it by getting on the website. And then my book, uh, pep talks for writers is coming out on October 3rd. And I think it's a great guide to being creative year-round.

I mean, that's the premise, there are 52 essays in it meant to be. You can read them at any time you can dip in and out of the book. But I think the 52 number is meant to be like, let's be creative here around, let's see. I think about this every week of the year and think about how you can be creative on or off the page.

And then I guess if you want to follow me, I'm, uh, @GrantFaulkner on Twitter and my website is I'm also on Facebook under Grant Faulkner. And I guess my other venture is a hundred-word story and that's an entirely different thing, but every story has to be exactly 100 words and actually have a book published called Fishers. That is a collection of 100, 100-word stories, but it's a 100-word, and you can go there to find out more about that.

Jonathan Levi: Awesome. So we'll put all the links to all that various stuff in the podcast episode. If people want to check it out, and I want to ask you one more question Grant before I thank you for your time and we part ways, which is if people are able really to remember only one big takeaway from this message and carry it with them for the rest of their lives, what would you hope for that one to be?

Grant Faulkner: I think it would be that you have a story and that your story is a gift. So tell it, you know, and think about it as a gift, not as a product, but it's a gift. So take care of it and nourish it and prioritize your creativity because you're a creator, you know, think about that every day, about how you can be creative in all aspects of your life.

Jonathan Levi: I love it and a great message to end on Grant. I really appreciated our chat today. I know our audience did as well. I want to thank you for making the time and coming on the show.

Grant Faulkner: Absolutely. Thank you so much. This was a great conversation.

Jonathan Levi: All right. My friend let's keep in touch.

Grant Faulkner: Okay. I would like to

Jonathan Levi: See you.

Grant Faulkner: Okay. Bye-bye.

Jonathan Levi: All right. SuperFriends. That is all we have for you today, but I hope you guys really enjoyed the show and I hope you learned a ton of actionable information tips, advice that will help you go out there and overcome the impossible.

If you've enjoyed the show, please take a moment to leave us a review on iTunes or Stitcher, or drop us a quick little note on the Twitter machine @gosuperhuman. also, if you have any ideas for anyone out there who you would love to see on the show, we always love to hear your recommendations. You can submit on our website, or you can just drop us an email and let us know that's all for today, guys.

Thanks for tuning in.

Closing: Thanks for tuning in to the Becoming SuperHuman Podcast for more great skills and strategies, or for links to any of the resources mentioned in this episode, visit We'll see you next time.



  1. Luiz
    at — Reply

    Thanks, I learned a lot of interesting things in past episodes.

  2. Shivaditya Purohit
    at — Reply

    loved th heart and the depth of the conversation. The way that Dr. Metivier shared from his enormous experience and insights was just amazing. Thank you Jonathan for doing this podcast!! 🙂

  3. Rob
    at — Reply

    Great interview with Dr. Greg Wells! He mentioned a doctor from Colorado around the 42:30 point of the podcast, discussing turmeric and black pepper. I couldn’t make out the doctor’s name. Can you provide me with his full name and maybe his website or contact info. Interested in his products.



  4. Muhammed Sani Ibrahim
    at — Reply

    I am new here, and learning really fast.
    Thank you.

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