The Daily Show’s Writers’ Thoughts on Collaborating

Earlier this week, I was listening to the TED original podcast WorkLife with Adam Grant where he interviewed the writers from The Daily Show on how they come up with material. The writers seem to have aced the art of collaborating (yes, it is an art). But how?

“Burstiness” is what they call it. Yes, like bursts, but the multiple of bursts. They pitch their ideas to each other in the room and build off one another, generating a creative peak where everyone contributes.

The most important thing to do, as suggested by the writers and Trevor Noah, is to create a psychologically safe place. They do this by praising the ideas they think are good — not every idea, but the ones that have merit (praising bad ideas would stifle their creativity). For the truly bad ideas, they positively poke fun at their creators. Ideas don’t come from the blank page: they come from raw material. Part of coming up with good ideas is sifting through the bad ones, or making the bad ones better. Reacting negatively to a bad idea is a sure way to cut down creativity.

So, how do you like to collaborate?


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