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Personal Growth

Jessica Abel: Practical magic

While figuring out how to steer her own creative ship, Jessica Abel has learned powerful, practical lessons about how to help others do the same.

On an earlier episode of this show the Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk said something that I’ve never forgotten. He said that writing programs shouldn’t teach about plots or characters or how to structure a story. Instead, they should teach writers to manage their own psyches. To be the captains of their own creative ships across the rough daily waters of fluctuating emotions and energies. This kind of self-management, he suggested, is what makes the difference between people who keep producing art and those who don’t.


My guest today is Jessica Abel. She’s an accomplished artist herself—a graphic novelist who did a kind of graphic docu-novel called OUT ON THE WIRE about how some of the greatest radio shows and podcasts are made, including Snap Judgment, Radiolab, and This American Life. In the course of figuring out how to steer her own creative ship she’s learned invaluable lessons about how to help others do the same. Her most recent book GROWING GILLS and her Creative Focus Workshops offer creatives a personalized process for figuring out what they want to make and how to balance those goals with the rest of their busy lives.

Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode:

Radiolab’s Jad Abumrad on storytelling as shamanism

Bret Weinstein on how evolution explains religion

About Think Again – A Big Think Podcast: Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.

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