A Little Happier: Why I Call My Sister Elizabeth “My Sister the Sage”

My nickname for my sister Elizabeth is “my sister the sage.” She regularly drops insightful observations or speaks deep truths–often, without seeming to notice.

If her super-power is being a sage, my super-power is realizing when she—or anyone—has said something profound.

I’m working on a collection of aphorisms, and along with the aphorisms I’m writing myself, I’ve got a section devoted to some of my favorite aphorists, people like Andy Warhol, Samuel Johnson, Marie von Ebener-Eschenbach, and Winston Churchill. And Elizabeth, of course!

Here are some highlights from my collection of her sayings related to work and to writing—you’ll hear that because she’s a TV writer and producer, they have a distinctly Hollywood flavor. But, as I’ve learned from collecting “proverbs of the professions,” a truth that applies in one area or profession often applies just as well in other areas and professions.

During casual conversation, Elizabeth has told me:

  • No one has an opinion until someone else has an opinion.
  • People succeed in groups.
  • “Yes” comes right away; “no” never comes.
  • Step into the future.
  • People don’t remember late. They remember bad.
  • Every cliché about Hollywood is more true than you can possibly imagine.
  • In a creative undertaking, the question is: Does this decision move the needle?
  • Action is the antidote for anxiety.
  • The more creative input you have, the more creative output you have.
  • My job isn’t to have the best ideas. My job is to have the best TV show.
  • You want volunteers, not recruits.
  • Take care of yourself; no one will take care of you.
  • Any gift that’s personalized seems more thoughtful.
  • When writing TV shows, you’re shooting at a target to try to hit a bull’s eye. For some targets, the bull’s eye is very big; for others, it’s very small. Look for ideas with a big, forgiving bull’s eye.
  • Nothing endears you to people more than helping their career.
  • Everyone’s always looking for a reason to say “no.”
  • Everyone who moves from New York to Los Angeles gains ten pounds, because they’re doing so much less walking.
  • Writing is re-writing.

I feel very fortunate to have such a sage for a sister!

If you have any proverbs of the professions, please send them my way so that I can add them to my collection.




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