Tim Ferriss Interviews Neil Strauss, 7x New York Times Bestselling Author, on the Creative Process


Did you enjoy this sample of creativeLIVE content?

If so, you’ll love my extended interview of author Neil Strauss on The Tim Ferriss Show podcast. Click below to stream or you can find it on iTunes (see #15):

Posted on: June 14, 2013.

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Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration)

113 comments on “Tim Ferriss Interviews Neil Strauss, 7x New York Times Bestselling Author, on the Creative Process

  1. Two crappy pages a day is truly genius. Though my book is very short, 156 pages, I never would have finished it if I didn’t work on it day in and day out. Even 5 minutes a day keeps the project moving forward.

    But to me, the point made about assuming nobody cares about what you are writing about and getting them to care through your writing is a fantastic strategy that I will definitely start to employ.

    Thanks Tim and Neil, great interview.


  2. I sent this to several friends. And I think the interview was great!

    One quick question for anyone who can answer. I can’t figure out which online writing / story telling course Tim recommended. I have found multiple ones. Very curious about which one is being mentioned here.

    Thanks again.


  3. Tim does an amazing job and getting you to want to “DO”. This interview sparked my interest to review and re-evaluate my writing just as his books have with aspects of my life. Neil Strauss, so many good books and great writing ino


  4. I must say guys, I just finished reading King’s book “On Writing” in which I took a ton of notes to help me with my future writing, and I have just as many notes, if not more, from this 1 interview. Hearing Neil as an established writer struggle like a normal human being when it comes to setting deadlines for yourself was great to hear!


  5. Great interview, so much valuable and practically useful content.

    One observation that is probably from outside of the goldfish bowl. These two are both very full on men who love life, love learning and discovering new things and have the whole emergent life thing driving them. Without this none of what they said would be possible. It feels that this is the very attractive thing that inspires, is seeing two fired up guys beat heads about the intense passion of their lives. Now that’s something worth catching the way of.

    Thanks for sharing..


  6. Millions of deaf/hoh people like myself cannot enjoy videos if they are not captioned. Auto captions are not of acceptable quality either. Would you please caption all of your videos with proper grammar, punctuation, speaker identifications, sound descriptions, etc? Quality captions are as important as quality speech. Thanks!



    Thanks, Tim. The creative process is so interesting and magical. It’s a ton of hard work and is completely misunderstood by people, especially for those coming from technical backgrounds.

    I’m a writer myself and it’s such a laborious process to get the words on the page. This interview has every single tip and then some on the craft of writing – and of course, there is still so much more.

    I wish this interview was made a year ago so I could take it and pick it apart for a couple weeks rather than randomly gathering information from all these different sources. This interview confirms everything I’ve learned about writing thus far, and yet, so much I’ve forgotten.


  8. Another slam dunk! Thanks Tim and Neil. This blog provides arguably the best free content that I’ve seen online, with no direct strings attached (i.e. no program to sell). IMHO buying your books is a token way to return the favor and simultaneously learn…


  9. Thank you for posting this video, Tim! I watched the live broadcast, and I am SO glad that this segment is now available for me to go through again.

    I tuned in because I am a huge fan of both your and Neil’s writing. I was very surprised at how relevant much of the discussion was to me and my own writing process. I am a songwriter, and I find a great deal of resonance between your methods and mine when it comes to getting words (or melodies) down and refining the work into something tight and meaningful.

    Thanks again!


  10. Before I found out Neil and Tim were good friends I thought that they were kindred spirits of sorts. The conversation you guys had confirms that for me. Some great perspectives, tips hacks and warnings! Cheers.


  11. Tim,

    You are an amazing person.

    The interview is awesome. You should have it somewhere without time constraints. People will see how long the video is before watching anyway.

    I would love more like the random shows, but with specifics themes, and going deeper with them (interviewing other people you admire would make it fun for you and for us, i’ll bet).

    I read the 4HWW and am reading the 4HB. Is the kindle version of 4HC worst, because of the pictures? (i live in Rio de Janeiro and takes too long to ship the book)

    Best regards,

    Felipe Moitta


  12. I really liked this interview. What stood out for me most is, willing to work for free for something you are passionate about. I think this is also true when it comes to business.
    I think many people fail in business because they expect to get paid from day one.
    Being passionate about what you do and willing to do it even if you don’t get paid is something I see over-and-over in succeessful people.


  13. Hello Tim. it would be great if you put all the names and links of apps and sites that you guys commented in the video.

    By the way, the interview is awesome! hahaha



  14. Tim, I love you;
    I wouldn’t buy your books and read your blog if I didn’t.
    But I think your enthusiasm may have overshadowed your role as interviewer. I felt a bit gypped in that it was hard to get to Neil’s answers. I would love to see you study the greats and teach yourself to be an AMAZING interviewer.

    All the best,



    • Nothing against your constructive criticism, but I neither felt that it was hard to get to Neil’s answers, nor that Tim needs to study to become an “amazing” interviewer (however you might define that to be). Keep the purpose in mind, which was to teach “4-hour principles”, not a plain Neil Strauss interview.


      • I thought this was an amzing interview. I’m a big fan of both Neil and Tim, but I tend to agree with Jenifer that Tim’s share of voice was quite high. Neil is such an interesting guy and I believe in this format Tim could have provided a bit more space for Neil.


      • Hi Dan,

        Alas, it was my class to teach, so I was expected to participate at a high level. But… plenty of Neil to go around! He has some excellent courses and events on his site.



      • There was some confusion here since the blog post was titled as an interview with Neil, which was not the main reason for the video. I didn’t realize until later that CreativeLive videos are courses. Might be better to bill Neil as a co-host. In the end it doesn’t really matter. Great course! I really enjoyed it and picked up some helpful tips, clarity and motivation.




  15. Awesome! I am definitely going to impliment the “no email in the morning” plan.

    Both of you have had a tremendous positive impact on my life, so thanks!


  16. Very informative teaching with great tips coming from both Tim and Neil – thank you guys!

    Tip for Corey in the video, and anyone else that wants to know about research, that served me well.

    David Hare (English playwright and theatre and film director) said “The great mystery of adaptation is that true fidelity can only be achieved through lavish promiscuity.”

    That line of thinking has served me well when researching and then essentially adapting that research into a piece. It gave me permission to fully indulge in the process and explore many happy tangents. I then use the readers’ tacit and vocal questions to help me whittle down my information into a coherent piece with a singular focused purpose.

    Happy writing :)


  17. creativeLIVE concept is fantastic.
    Best detox from 20th century education system.
    Learning in creativeLIVE is concrete and associated with fun, success, excitment, guilt free Q&A…

    creativeLIVE changes the George Bernard Shaw quote “He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.”

    Here who teaches, could and did first.

    Here nobody pronounce “IQ” but we hear often “failure is feedback” by a smiling successful achiever…

    That makes all the difference when a teacher can be also a hero, with polymorphic achievements.
    At all ages we need learning, so we need heros… They exist. creativeLIVE videos show them, and sharing their process / journey.

    The bonus aspect is “surprising” index which wakes up best the right brain hemisphere.
    Polymath aspect or simply surprising profile of the teacher put the learner in optimal disposition.

    I just hope it will be so financially successful that conversations will start in what teaching/learning can look like.


  18. I enjoyed this video very much and thought it was hugely informative and helpful. Also, well-thought set, and editing.

    I was wondering what is your experience on a goal setting software for.

    If I have couple of goals that I would like to achieve, be them a piece of writing to finish, alongside other projects, I find it more encouraging to use something visual that I can see as timeline bar of progress. I know of GoalsonTrack and Goalenforcer. Can you give your take on this?


  19. After watching the video I actually found it really interesting. I only knew Neil Strauss through reading the game and the occasional mention of him on Tynan’s blog, but he seems like a really cool guy. I found his metaphor with the wrinkly shirt really interesting. It’s not the initial writing that’s beautiful, it’s the ironed out product that you get to show off to everyone else.


  20. Tim, everything about you and your work is very straight forward. There is no fluff and you are full of useful information. You’re extremely passionate and it’s really great to see. It’s inspiring.
    I was referred to your first best seller a few days ago and I am half way through. It’s changing the way I see myself and the world. I cannot thank you enough!

    Ps- What an incredible interview/discussion! Thanks for sharing!


  21. When doing something creative, you’ll notice that some days you got nothing and some days you’re unstoppable. You’re in the zone.

    I’ve been observing what happens when I got the creative juices flowing. When I’m creative, I’m in a real relaxed state. No distractions. Sometimes it works wonders if you don’t focus on being creative. Put your work aside for one day and it’s like your subconscious mind does the rest for you. Great ideas can pop out of nowhere.

    Working at night seems to help too. And when I’m in bed, trying to sleep, is like I have a special key to new doors. I recommend anyone who likes to be creative to have a notepad next to your bed. When an idea suddenly comes, write it down and let yourself go loose.


  22. Thanks a lot of for sharing so many good tips. They are most helpful for the book I am currently writing.

    I am also loving “Bird by bird”, one of the books on writing you recommended, Tim.

    I look forward to more interviews like this.


  23. Great interview….It is great to be able to listen to two incredible people speak. It is kind of like being a fly on the wall :)


  24. So here’s something interesting that I’ve noticed in this video that made me think about my habits. At around the 45 minute mark, Tim and Neil are sitting with one of the guys from the audience. Note the posture difference between Neil, Tim and the fellow with whom they’re grabbing a beer. It looks to me that loosening up and having fun changes the ease of listening and absorbing of the material. Fantastic questions, rapport, and material. Kudos to everybody involved!


  25. Thanks for the heads-up for Scrivener! The advice on not wasting your energy on anything but writing was invaluble….a really great and informative piece.


  26. Lol Tim you’re so self-involved. At any rate great interview. I love your books and knew nothing about Neil before this but will definitely be checking him out. Thanks bro.


  27. AWESOME interview Tim!!
    I really took to heart what you said about learning to tell stories well ( in all aspect of life), and was wondering if you had any book recommendations on the subject? Thanks Tim, keep doing what you do, your an inspiration man!


  28. Good Afternoon Mr. Ferris,
    I write to you with the utmost respect and sincerity in my asking this question. I am 10 pages into your book and will most likely finish it by tomorrow and I am already excited to learn everything I can from you. I am a 20 year old student / full time slave for minimum wage and set to leave for the USMC soon. Upon reading success story after success story I have realized this is not the life I have imagined for myself. I will try to keep this brief but every success story and every person, almost everyone, has one key factor that I do not: a mentor. I ask that you be my mentor, even if I’m only in contact with you for one phone call every 6 months. I hope you will at least entertain this question and e-mail me back, even if your answer is a no. Any answer would mean a great deal to me from someone as successful as yourself. Thank you and have a good day.

    - Steven D.


  29. Wow, this was pretty affirming. I had always felt like a nut job locking myself away from technology telling people it’s the only way I can write and had never considered ordering all my lunches at the start of the week to be delivered throughout. Great content.


  30. I really need to work on time management! I have been crushing it with my social media, but I am way too involved with it on a daily basis, and I never turn off my notifications. I have a really connected following, and that’s partly because of how involved I am with them on the blog, on instagram etc – but I have a hard time not answering things immediately. I know I’m going to be so much more productive this year creating a schedule for myself and I loved what you shared about creating that buffer from it.


  31. Another amazing tool is actually “Do Not Disturb” mode on the iPhone. Just add the people who you want to be able to contact you to your favorites list and the rest of your notifications won’t show up unless you check the phone.


  32. Hi. I am not sure what to use stickk or beeminder. Beeminer has iphone and android app, also graphics, import and export data. Stickk seems better if you don’t want to pay. Anyone tried both?