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The Nerdist Way

early cover concept art by Chris Glass; this will not be the final cover, however

As many of you know because of my blabbings, I’m releasing a book later this year (Fall-ish, I think) called The Nerdist Way. It is a productivity book for Nerds. It was born out of the fact that I have released many fuck-ups into the world throughout my life, and a handful of years ago turned to the Nerdier parts of my brain for help. I sense that there are many other Nerds out there looking for answers, so this is my attempt to reach out to all of them (or YOU) and share methods and tricks I’ve employed to straighten out my life. In my experience, Nerds have a very specific world-view and problem-solving approach coupled with hyper-self-awareness and a very active internal monologue. I believe it is possible to aim some of the traits that normally seem to attempt to cripple us with inactivity into the very engine that drives us forward. The content is a sort of first-person walk-thru of challenges I faced, and how I got around them. Tonally, it’s not unlike the WIRED article I wrote in ’08, Diary of a Self-Help Dropout. Though, if you listen to the podcast or read this site with any regularity, you probably have a pretty good idea how I present stuff.

I am BY NO MEANS perfect, but I pretty much never stop thinking about work, and how to streamline my life. I would tend to think I’d get an “above average” mark were there some kind of report card. I’m usually juggling a bunch of small, fun projects that I enjoy and that make me happy. If you are so inclined, I feel you deserve to be sprayed with some happiness as well doing what you love if you’re not currently experiencing it. Nerds were always shit on when I was growing up, so I feel excited and proud that we’ve now inherited a large chunk of this planet. IT IS OUR TIME TO RULE.

So now the point of this post…earlier today I got the following tweet from a nice chap who goes by @MDBowden:

Hey Chris, do you have any tips to get over writer’s block? I haven’t been able to write jokes for a while.

As I responded in a series of abbreviated DMs (I really do try to answer as many of those as possible) it occurred to me that there were probably more than a few specific points I might miss. Since the Nerdist stuff is really just a community of like-minded folks, I thought I would end each chapter or section by answering a few related queries. What you should know is that the book is that it’s divided into three sections:

MIND – how to manage your brain
BODY – how to manage your physical self
TIME – how to manage Einstein’s favorite dimension better to achieve the productivity you “so sorely need” (as Carl Carlson once said)

So that’s it. If you have any questions relating to any of the above-referenced sectors, please post them here and I will pull a few into the book and answer them to the best of my experience. Make sure to use whatever name suits you for crediting purposes. Also, hashtag your question with mind, body or time for easy sorting. And please don’t be shitty here. My intention with this book is to help other Nerds benefit from the lessons of my anxieties and mistakes, kind of like an older brother. Or an Overlord. Whoops! That last part just slipped out.

Hashtag HUGS.


  1. Peter says:

    Badass! Can’t wait!

  2. Sari says:


    Subject: Your thoughts on exercise and its importance for creativity

    Another question you might want to tackle is the importance of exercise for you. You mention how exercise helped you with overcoming alcohol addiction, and how you realized later that your obsession with exercise was by itself vanity, etc.

    My question is this: is exercise good? and I don’t mean it in the stupid, no duh way, I mean, how did it help you through progress? I always read about how exercise is discipline, blah blah blah. What do you think, Chris? Do you follow a strict exercise regimen (the whole personal trainer thing mentioned on the Joel McHale episode) that must be done everyday for mental relaxation, or is it just there for health purposes? or, like Maron, is it guided by some mild to serious obsession with body image?

    And while we’re on the subject, what about meditation?

    I know that answering this question can sound like a lose-lose, and you might think that you will end up either parroting some known ideas or sounding like a blowhard. However, your book is for life management of creative brainiacs, and since exercise seems to work for many of the people you’ve interviewed, you must have formulated some thoughts on that.

    Thanks Chris ! Can’t wait for the book !

  3. Katie Walsh says:

    Hi Chris,

    With all the delightfully nerdy ways to engage with technology, media and culture, how does one quiet the digital chatter and not get overwhelmed, and yet also partake in such things as Twitter, blogs, podcasts? It’s getting so that I can’t do normal tasks like cooking, cleaning, boring work stuff without a podcast or something to take up the other part of my brain without getting hugely distracted. This seems bad. Digital cleanse might help, but the web and social media are part of my job and I need to stay engaged without being completely taken over by it. Tips?
    #mind #time

  4. Brian Edwards says:

    Hey Chris

    Not sure if this falls squarely under Mind or if it could fall under Body as well. What kind of tricks or suggestions do you have for dealing with anxiety attacks. Where you can’t focus or sit still because you’re (obviously) anxious about something.


  5. Mal says:


    Will you address nerd life stages in your book? Like college vs. 30s.

  6. Sari says:

    Subject: What is your standing with mentoring?

    Hey Chris,

    I enjoyed your podcast and your interviews because they showed me how you and everyone you knew had to work their ass off to get where they were; how they all had to deal with failures; and how they all were humbled by the process to become the nicest people ever. I am sure you have talked about this in detail

    However, you rarely mention mentoring, or whatever is close to being guided by a senior comedian or person. Have you ever had those? What is your position on mentoring, or at least being chosen/adopted by someone who sees a talent in you? For example, the story of how you were offered your first spot in radio, and how you learned what to there, etc.

    To me, that would complete your already awesome set of advices — just do it, work hard, get up after a fall, have great friends, and be humble and self-conscious at all times.

  7. Chelsea K says:

    Mr. Hardwick,

    What are some good tips for staying focused while working? I have Adult ADD and I find myself easily distracted.

    Chelsea K

  8. farced says:


    Chris, how do you overcome an overwhelming fear of failure, of not measuring up? Especially for someone trying to just get off the ground and create things. Like, if you have really good taste in tons of things and think “The works of Nabokov exist, Louis CK and Paul F Tompkins are creating new jokes every day, why the hell should I be arrogant enough to think I can create anything worthwhile in comparison?”

  9. J.P. says:

    #mind I apologize if this topic has already been mentioned, but my question is about self motivation.

    When I do creative things I get a positive response from my friends, the issue is getting myself to actually create something. I’ve always got a handful of ideas in my head for comics I’d like to draw, stories I’d like to write, or even just blog posts I’d like to make. Then life and TV will get in the way and all my creative endeavors fall by the wayside. I have no trouble self motivating at work (mostly for fear of being fired), it’s my personal life that could use a kick in the tookus. It’s not that I don’t find time to create stuff occasionally, it’s just that I know I have time to do more.

    So basically, how do you self motivate yourself to be creative?

  10. Stuart Addison says:

    Chris, this is very much in the #MIND column. I’m interested in how the brain, which is an otherwise lovely and wonderful thing, can fool us into believing that we are stupid bumholes. A cycle seems to occur in my head every day where I believe that a) I am no good at anything, b) I should probably not even try to do anything, since I’d be no good at it, and c) I am a bad person for not being good at anything, and also for not trying. Then I get bummed out.

    I suppose what I’m asking is, why the fuckshit do we let this happen? (We do let this happen, right? It’s not just me, right?!) Is there a fun way of either dispelling these dumb feelings of self-doubt or no self-worth, or using them to propel ourselves to SUCCESS, whatever that is.

    Hugs from Scotland,

  11. Peter says:

    How do you manage to keep healthy relationships(friends, family, partner) while juggling work, projects and time spent recuperating from everything in general? I’ve found out the hard way that I suck at it. #TIME

  12. Hey Chris…

    Thanks so much for doing what you do!

    Please tell me what’s in your ManBag? What are the essentials you must have with you to cope with the day (besides the obvious 2600 cartridges!)…

    Also what kind of bag is best for the 21st Century Nerd?
    How many iPod cables is too many?
    USB Thumb Drive or Portable HDD?
    How many Mini Display to whatever adapters is the minimum to survive?
    etc, etc…

    Cheers : Andy
    #Mind #Body & #Time Not trying to be a douche just think tIis straddles all three!

  13. Peter says:

    How do you manage to keep healthy relationships(friends, family, partner) while juggling work, projects and time spent recuperating from everything in general? I’ve found out the hard way that I suck at it.

  14. Frank Romero says:

    Didn’t see you at GalifreyOne! Where were you among the 2199 people that went!

  15. drhoov says:

    Growing up and now growing older, I’ve been bombarded with intimidating statements “it takes X number of years before you’re any good at this certain art” be it writing, acting, standup, etc. On a logical level, it seems arbitrary, and not to be taken literally. How do I keep my ADHD/OCD brain from taking this literally, keeping myself permanently intimidated, and therefore continuing procrastination? How do you force yourself to create what you know will start off being rather sloppy, and possibly just dumb?

  16. Matt says:

    I want to know why they are making another Matrix movie? Apparently neo is going to be battling a sparkling vampire who looks like he just came out of a Hollister catalog…. Where’s Wesley Snipes when you need him?

  17. Jennifer says:

    Any advice on how to manage a stressful life would be helpful for sure. I work full time in retail management *shudder* and go to school full time. It feels like I never have time for myself, or time for the things I like to do. And when I do have free time, I always feel awkward explaining how I spent 8 straight hours playing video games when I have a to-do list a mile long. x.x Oh and WHY do people continue to assume girls don’t play video games and or/ [insert nerd thing here] when it is obvious a great amount of us do? #MIND/TIME/RANT

  18. Not sure if this qualifies as #mind, #body, or both, but here goes. As someone who has dealt with substance abuse, what would your advice be to others with similar trouble? How have you successfully stayed clean? I haven’t yet been clean for a whole year and have found that 12 step programs don’t work for me, so I always like to know how others do it.

    thank you. please keep bringing the laughs you wonderful person, you.

  19. Jason says:

    Hi Chris,
    How does a Geek, yes I prefer this moniker over Nerd, not become bogged down in his/her own desire to know, everything on what ever subject peaks their interest. I have three that can and have at times become all consuming. To a point were my non Geeky wife and I have had arguments about what ever I happen to be Geeking out on at any one time. Enjoy your Burrito!

  20. As the saying goes, when your only tool is a hammer, all problems look like nails. How do you stay creative so that you aren’t answering every question with 42?

  21. digitalamish says:

    How do you respond to my assertion that nerds of today are not as ‘nerdy’ as nerds of yesterday? In today’s society everyone has a roomba, or an iphone, or a dedicated high speed network running into their living room. You can barely function today if you aren’t a little ‘nerdy’. Back in the 90’s and before, society truly shunned those of us who were nerds. Servos on circuit boards, command lines, and 300 baud modems. It was a whole separate world we worked in. Nerdy wasn’t getting tickets on Fandango, it was bridging a VAX email system into a UNIX based SMTP server.

    …and we walked 5 miles a day, in snow, uphill, to get to the coffee machine.

  22. ChaddersD says:


    I am a 24 year old nerd who hails from Long Island. I am a Comic book/Anime/Whovian/Video game nerd. I suppose I would be an all around nerd? I never really had luck with any ladies due to a myriad of problems that I believe but the main one is as the subject of this comment is mind. I am very largely self-aware and have a very hyper-active inner monologue. Those two never seem to work together well in tandem. I don’t like to take risks for fear of what could potentially happen. I suppose I am always afraid of the “what if?” My question to you is if you would like to use it is:

    How does a nerd get past the internal thought processes and simply take a chance or go for it with life?


  23. Jon says:

    With communication being affected by globalization as much as industry and culture, why do some nerds isolate themselves in their passions as well as their hardships? The access to more like-minded people would seem more facilitated by increased avenues to relate but on the whole internet culture, in my experience, seems to get boiled down to the least common social denominator. My fear is instead of increasing splinter groups of creativity or skill it’s stifling and watering down the collective masses. Am I the only one perceiving this?

  24. Jon says:

    With communication being affected by globalization as much as industry and culture, why do some nerds isolate themselves in their passions as well as their hardships? The access to more like-minded people would seem more facilitated by increased avenues to relate but on the whole internet culture, in my experience, seems to get boiled down to the least common social denominator. My fear is instead of increasing splinter groups of creativity or skill it’s stifling and watering down the collective masses. Am I the only perceiving this?

  25. paul says:

    OMG Sean just asked the Enjoy Your Burrito question! Please please please include that story in the book!

  26. Sean Storrs says:

    I often have one foot in the present and one in the future. Any advice on how to stay more firmly rooted in the here and now? #Mind

  27. Lee says:

    @ Everyone asking the Geek Vs. Nerd question – I remember Chris answering this question when he was talking to Chris Anderson from WIRED. Even went back and looked up the timestamp for you: 1:00:58 (60m 58s)

    Now stop asking.

  28. Jonathan says:

    Dear Craig, I mean Chris

    What is the best way to initiate a potential female partner in exceptionally nerdy past times? Clockwork Orange or an Abstinence Only approach of never talking about it, or somewhere in between?

  29. Art says:

    Hey Chris,
    As I get older I notice that my love of nerdy things remains much as it did when I was a kid. Star Wars and Doctor Who become a bigger part of my life everyday and, in a way, help me deal with the adult problems in my life.

    I’m actually embarrassed at times at how much like a kid I am about things like that. At a certain point do you have to grow out of it or is it the whole point of Nerdist?


  30. Bear says:

    in this world of smaller and smaller borders both real and imaginary. it seems we are losing our boundaries between each other. more kids are posting stupid things or doing stupid things to get recognized on areas such as youtube or facebook. some even being malicious. how do we groom our next generation or the rest of this generation to be less obsessed with the mini-movie screen and more involved with the real world or to develop a good balance between both. I beleive if we allow the mini screen to be our only window to life we lose our conection to seeing others as more than actors in our own little movie. leaving these “extras” to be nothing but our back drop to life. what advice would you give these new mini movie makers.

  31. Beth Loper says:

    Hi Chris,
    I’m a geek in my freshman year in high school and I get ‘bullied’, or I suppose teasing is the right word, a lot. I was wondering if you pestered during school and how did you deal with it?
    Also, what type of nerd would you classify yourself as?
    e.g. – Band geek, drama nerd, computer nerd, political nerd, food nerd, etc.

  32. Matthew Burnside says:

    Chris, my buddy, my boss,

    I’ve always struggled with conceptualizing and prewriting/writing/rewriting too much, leaving me frustrated and up against a wall I’ve built for myself. How do you move forward with a project so that not too much time is spent on writing and/or pre-production?

    #Time or #Mind

  33. Chris Vachon says:

    Hey chris, fellow chris here.
    Do you think any of the sub genres of nerd that often get over looked will ever get their due?
    -sports nerd(they are stat machines and always two steps ahead of you information keeping)
    -food nerd (Alton brown, nuff’ said)
    -the politics nerd (the daily show employs a few of them)
    That is just to name a few but, I feel I fall into these categories and we are often snubbed even by our other passionate nerd colleagues.

  34. Krissy says:

    I find that it’s often difficult to be taken seriously in certain areas of life because I happened to be born with two x Chromosome’s as opposed to an x and a y. The nerd community is no exception.

    Being a female nerd has it’s definite assets, but over the year or so I worked as a sales clerk for a certain chain that rhymes with the words “RainChop,” I got various reactions from nerds and non-nerds alike, whenever I stood smiling behind the counter. Either people assumed that I was just working a job and knew nothing about video games, or assumed that I was a gamer, and thus proceeded to attempt to get into my pants. Is there a double standard in place for the ladies? Do you have any advice for female nerds to help level the playing field in “The Nerd Community?”

  35. Matthew says:

    How do you suggest I stop masturbating everyday? What advice would you give to someone trying to get in the entrertainment business?

  36. Sara says:

    How do you seperate your real life from your fandom life? I tend to lose myself in fandom and forget about the world outside.

  37. How do you balance potential with who your base self is? For my 33 years, it seems all I’ve been told is that I’m really smart, hyper-verbal and quirky, but I don’t live up to my potential and there is so much more and better things that I could do if I just focused on the “right” opportunities (like, if I chose a Phd over the Doctor, my dimension would change and it would rain unicorns)… This magical “more” has never been enough to sway me from my introverted world; however, I’m starting to wonder if I’m the one missing the point, not everyone else. How do we figure out how much “more” is right for us?

  38. Evan says:

    Wassup, Chris, I wanted to know how I could use my useless archive of nerdy and stupid knowledge towards success

  39. ERiv says:

    So here is a whopper of a problem that relates to the things you all on the podcast talk about. I have contemplated writing this question to you many times but this time you have provoke me Sir Hardwick. Have at you!

    I currently live in bum-fuck nowhere Arkansas, near Memphis more so than Little Rock (the capital) but I don’t have a reliable means of transportation. This is a problem because I want to begin stand-up. I have thought about just saying ‘fuck school’ and move to LA where the hipster/nerd/geek/techie comedy movement is happening and bask in the juicy awesomeness but that practical, responsible side nags at me continually saying, “You don’t have enough money, a good car, or a job you fucking retard!” So I have a couple of options still left too me and I’m considering doing either or both of them. Option 1: Follow in your footsteps and start a podcast of moderate hilarity. Option 2: Try to get stand up going where I am with the unknown talent around me. I know that comedy is something I want to do and that writing is my life, but the problems that lie ahead (staying here for 3 years to finish my degree, getting a new car to move to a commuter-centric area, being the one to start a comedy movement of my own) are vexing and daunting. I have asked friends and family and they keep saying that it’s up to me and that I should do whatever, which means very little in the ways of advice. So I guess what I’m asking is should I stay and be practical or is the scene in LA to great to pass up right now?

    I hope you have time in your busy schedule to help me out, I would really appreciate it.

    Hashtag HUGSBACK

  40. OhBlahDah says:

    #MIND Speak to my super nerdy anxiety. I do well during the day when I’m conscious, but when I exit REM stage sleep, I wake up afraid I will never solve some silly life problem since I’m stuck in some endless DO LOOP, doomed to repeat it over and over.

    During the day, I have learned thought stopping or some form of distraction works, but when I’m drowsy . . . it’s all IF, THEN, DISASTER with no solution. Then I repeat it until I have to jump out of bed or reach for the iTouch and play Trism or write horrible e-mails.

    I feel like I never should have taken computer programming way back when — or the engineering of problem solving! Life becomes a flowchart or decision tree from hell.

  41. paul says:

    Not to hog up this thread but the whole geek vs nerd debate looks pretty silly to those of us on the outside. They are both labels. Is what other people call you really that important? Would you engage in similarly serious debate over, for example, Trekker vs Trekkie? (Or sales associate vs salesperson; writer vs author; John Hodgman vs “that PC guy from the television.”)
    #tangent #ignorethisChris

  42. robert trebreh says:

    Current political parties and politicians do not represent my opinions or values. How will these institutions change as nerds grow in political power?

  43. John Wickline says:

    Like a previous poster on this page, I would like to know what you think is the difference between a Geek and a Nerd. I find myself relating to being both a Geek and a Nerd at times and I feel that difference between the two terms isn’t as clear as it once was; this at times can be a real bother when trying to explain the terms to those who do not relate with being a Geek or a Nerd.

  44. Pogue Mahone says:

    How do you maintain a good relationship while living a freakishly busy lifestyle?

  45. India Powell says:

    Ahh! I forgot the hashtag! So much for being an editor, perfecting, etc. Wait, I think I’m self editing right now. Damn! #mind

  46. Derek says:

    Hey Chris,
    How does a podcast/blog/twitter account/whatnot become successful and/or popular?

  47. How would you re-introduce toys to a seemingly console/PC gaming savant/rainman 6 yr old ?? should you encourage his interest in the game world in hopes maybe one day he can become ultra nerd of gamers and game programers? or rip him away cut him back and throw legos and play dough at him, force him outside when his friends shun his nerdness. his problem solving skills are higher than ever after playing games and he’s kicking someone’s butt in the process who btw is about 20 years older.

  48. India Powell says:

    You are so open and seemingly fearless in your writing and podcast–have you ever struggled with the nerdy and creativity-stifling tendency to self edit? How can those of us who do get past our need to “perfect” (read: edit down to a harmless, neutral nub) what we put out there? How do you get past your inner nerd editor/critic, assuming you have one?
    (I’m actually an editor by trade, which maybe makes this tendency worse in my case? I don’t know.)
    Thanks! I am so excited to read your book!

  49. David Bednar says:

    How do you focus on a computer when the internet is right there, staring you in the face? Even when you disconnect, the ability to reconnect is obviously right there as well?

    ….I guess the real question is, how do you develop a sense of self control with something as ubiquitous and seemingly harmless as the internet?

  50. Corey Ferreira says:

    Hello chris,
    Like many nerds I am predisposed to the ocasional lofty scoff or sence of intellectual eliteism over others. Not out of malice but more so just to organize an intellectual order, gaining effeciancy to communication. Why is the Internet bait for this cynical and acerbic part of my nerd personality.
    Why does “Nerd” transform so easily into “dick”.