20 Jul 2018


dave's picture

Fed up with the constant grind of daily life?
Bored with blogs about writing that begin with a series of rhetorical questions?...
Deterred by the doom merchants (like me) who keep telling you it’s getting harder than ever to sell your comedy script?
Ever feel like there’s never enough time to do anything?
40 minutes just whizzed by browsing through social media?
Fear not, because for the next couple of weeks or so I’ll be on a mission to help you identify your goals and focus on what you really need to do.
And before I apologise for using the words ‘mission’, ‘focus’ and ‘goals’ in a single sentence, I’d like to explain that the main thrust of my plan is to help you AVOID WASTING TIME.
Unless you’re about to go to Edinburgh with your new solo show, you’re probably winding down towards the summer holidays and a relatively quiet August. I’ve been a freelancer all my working life, and spent occasional long periods with very little work, and although neither of those situations is relevant to the August wind-down, this time of year I still can’t help but feel the pull of the holiday.
I tend to spend a lot of the summer daydreaming, wondering what I’ll be able to achieve in the next 12 months. September has always felt like the start of the year to me – back to school, or college, or topical comedy show. I may stare at the rugged Devon coastline during August, devising plans for finally writing that novel, or screenplay, or killer one-man show, but by mid-October I’m back in the routine and the big ideas have invariably been ditched.
If you’re hoping to become a comedy writer, the opportunities must seem almost as daunting as the barriers. If you have a job or are struggling to find work, or have family care responsibilities, or any combination of these, it’s hard to know how best to use what precious time may be available for you to maximum effect.
The temptation is strongest to head for the shiniest, fastest-looking route to riches. Ooh look! The BBC are asking for writers from my background – no, hang on, there’s another series of Newsjack – ooh, damn, I forgot November is the month we’re all supposed to write our novel, and feel worthless and full of self-loathing when November 30 zooms by again.
There are some regular events in the calendar you can plan around. Newsjack, one of the few radio shows to accept work from non-commissioned writers, has two six-week runs a year, usually around September/October and February/March. It’s not for everyone, but how will you know that without dragging yourself through the pain of staying up until two in the morning, six weeks running, crafting jokes that will never get used and sketches that will never be made? And even then, wondering if maybe you were approaching it all in the wrong frame of mind at the time?
This is where I come in.
Starting on Monday, I’ll be running a series of pieces to help you work out your best options for the next year or so. In week one we’ll be looking at Newsjack, running through the week as if there’s an episode being recorded on the Friday. I’ll talk about coming up with ideas. What you should do with them, how to rewrite and so on. If you want to join in you can, sending me your own ideas and writing your own sketches.
I might not be able to simulate the crushing disappointment that happens to so many who try to write for the show, but I’ll do my best.
I can’t promise to read all your ideas, but I’ll try and identify any issues you may have, and how you might want to develop them and… well, let’s see where this goes. I’ve never tried anything like this before, I’ll be making it up a lot as I go along.
Here’s my plan:
WEEK 1 Writing for Newsjack
WEEK 2 Developing your sitcom idea
WEEK 3 Developing your sitcom characters.
See you on Monday…

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