Poking a Dead Frog by Mike Sacks took me a lot longer to get through than I anticipated. I realize now that part of why I am able to read so fast is because I latch on to the plot and that carries me through. The “I need to know what happens next” feeling gives me so much momentum. This book is interviews and short essays and while I was very interested in the people being interviewed and what they had to say I would have been better served reading it a little bit at a time in between other stories.
I’m pretty sure I originally picked this up because I secretly hoped there might be some sort of brand new magic key to writing and a little light bulb would go off above my head as inspiration struck. This was pretty foolish of me and I knew it even as I hoped it would happen. The various interviews and essays simply confirmed the same advice that anyone who’s interested in writing has heard a million times. The only way to be a better writer is to write and write and write and rewrite then rewrites and write some more. I’m currently oscillating between being disappointed that there was no new advice and being relived that I haven’t been missing out on any advice throughout the years.
Mike Sacks did get to talk to some very impressive and very interesting people and some quality industry stories pop up in these interviews. A common line of questioning he has is about each writers individual process which has always intrigued me. Every writer goes about idea finding and writing down in a slightly different way. Sacks would interview one writer that said a writers room is pointless and a waste of time and the very next writer would say that he or she is at their most productive while in the writers room. Basically there is no wrong environment to write in as long as you are actually writing.
It was especially entertaining to read the interviews with old timers from Hollywood. They’ve hit a point where they will dish on whoever they want because a lot of the people are dead and they’ll dish on people that are still alive because they are just too old to give a damn. They also tended to have a little more perspective on their various successes and failures, as enough time had gone by for them to take a step back.
Basically this is an entertaining read, but because there is no secret to what makes a good writer the advice portions got a little repetitive. If you’ve ever been interested in the process of a comedic writers writing process or beginnings, then this is for you.