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? 

January 10, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , , . Comedy, Comedy writing, Publishing, Writing.


  1. Carl replied:

    I’d punch the school mate. Oh, wait. I did.

    I’ve found that thinking I have writer’s block, or thinking about it at all, brings it into mind. As I write comedy, I like reference material: glossaries, dictionaries, and encyclopedias. Just looking up a term and reading its definition, I can write a new one, and go all out from there. Sometimes I write over 2,000 in a day if I’m that eager.

    Writing does create more writing, and I like to surprise myself with whatever comes to mind. Like what I just wrote. It wasn’t really planned, it sort of just happened.

    • Carl replied:

      2,000 words; not 2,000 definitions. I’d also like to add that I have to edit a lot; evidence provided.

    • WomanBitesDog replied:


  2. robincoyle replied:

    Touch wood . . . I’ve never had writer’s block. Now that I said that, it will probably hit tomorrow.

  3. Claire Cappetta replied:

    Coffee, walk around… If that doesn’t help then it means I need another coffee 🙂

  4. Sheila replied:

    Going for a walk through the woods usually helps. Mostly though, there isn’t enough time to sit down and write so I’ll think up ideas while doing something else. Then when I can finally sit down, there’s lots to write about.

  5. thatfunnyblogguy replied:

    I use a similar method: Which blogger would you stalk and how would you go about it?

  6. kateshrewsday replied:

    I write, whatever it is, even if my brain is telling me it’s rubbish. Strangely the things that go down really well are the ones where I have written through the barrier.

  7. 4amWriter replied:

    I find that writing at the same time every day combats writer’s block. It’s almost like training your muse to get to work on time. I also read that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit, so if you write for 21 days, no matter the quality, you’re making writing a habit (or whatever the habit it is you’re after).

    • WomanBitesDog replied:

      Mmmmmm. 21 days? Eating chocolate. Drinking wine. No. No. No. Write. Write. Write. Great advice!

  8. jbw0123 replied:

    I tell myself I’m a terrible writer and am not allowed to write again, ever. Nope, gonna sell my laptop, throw away the journals and all the pens in the house.

    Brings gushers of words.

    • WomanBitesDog replied:

      I like it! Must write one last thing before you chuck out the pens!

  9. rawmultimedia replied:

    Me, I just type a few words, and treat it like a conversation after that. Like a prose. I look around the room or area I am, and the first that pops out to me, I write about it, whether I like it, hate it, have a back story about it, why it is still there, and make a few lines rhyme, and POOF, post, write my name at the end and a relate-able question for interaction and comments, and let it fly. I think I do this like everyday. smh

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