TV sitcom writer Maurice Gran on how to beat writer’s block
“Who was the person I hated most at school and how could I kill them now?” This was one of the top tips on how to beat writer’s block by Maurice Gran, a leading sitcom writer in the UK.
His point was “always write something down. Inspiration comes from writing something. You generate ideas”.
Gran, who is president of the Player Playwrights, a London writing club, and one half of a comedy writing duo who created Birds of a Feather and Shine on Harvey Moon, was giving a talk to members. “Comedy writers need another person in the room to amuse. It works,” he said.
Oh god. Oh god. Oh god. That was crushing. I immediately started to wrack my brains of who I could write with. There was a very old school friend. And, no, I don’t want to kill her. But I guess I might if we worked together.
He also said something sobering about partnerships – it doesn’t matter how much either of you put in – as long as the product is 100% great. Which was the view I took with Martini Bond. We needed everyone’s input, no matter how small a part, to make the final product work.
I decided to pluck up the courage to ask a question: How do you break into radio? I said.
I think the short answer was: you don’t. The long answer: “Listen hard. Get radio plays from the BBC’s Writers Room.” OK!
Then there was a dark whisper from a person sitting near me: “It’s a lot of work. Not much money in it.” Oh, maybe not OK then.
There are apparently fewer slots on radio for comedy writing because the genre has been invaded by panel shows, which are cheaper to make.
Still onwards and upwards. Online is changing everything. “There are far more ways for writers to get on the lower rung of the ladder. For example, use the internet to bypass broadcast TV,” Gran said. “The quality of what you can put online will improve.”
I’d love to hear your views:
Do you have a writing exercise to beat the block? Or, if it helps to get creative, tell me how would you do away with an aggravating school mate from your past?