Tag Archives: sitcoms

In Which I Want To Be Creative But Don’t Do Creative Things

A few of you have noticed that I haven’t been blogging lately.  Thanks to those that have taken

asleep at the keyboard

When creative slumps attack

the time to say something.  I’m encouraged, knowing that I have some sort of audience.  It’s not that I don’t want to be creative, it’s just all of the hard work of DOING creative that gets in the way.

I guess you could say I’m in a bit of a creative slump.  I relate to Dan Harmon, creator of the sitcom “Community,” who recently blogged about the need for an outside stressor to motivate him in his creative writing pursuits:   ” . . . if nobody’s waiting to hear from you, why say anything, if you’re not saying anything, nobody’s listening, slipping you deeper and deeper into a creative coma.”

Dear reader, please don’t think I’m calling you “nobody” or dismissing you as not worth writing for.  It’s just that you don’t give me a paycheck.  You don’t fire me if I let a deadline slip a few days or months.  I’ve made myself the promise that “I’ll write a little something every day” countless times, but it’s just not working.  I always peter out.  Even though I dream of one day quitting my day job to write funny stuff professionally, I apparently don’t have enough internal motivation to take the small steps necessary to make that happen.

Interestingly, in some areas of my life, I have incredible willpower, and can just pull myself up by my bootstraps and make big changes without requiring external pressure.  Eating, for instance.  I’ve let myself go a few times, and have put on 20-30 extra pounds.  When I decide it’s time, I can instantly start eating better and shed the pounds at will.  I can resist desserts and high calorie temptations on my own without any special diet or food overlord.  Why don’t I have this kind of self-control when I comes to creative pursuits?

So, writers and creatives, I could use your input here.  What keeps you in the game?  What tricks have you learned to keep you on task?  So far the only ideas I’ve got are:

  1. Be a better person
  2. Quit my job and starve my family until I hit my stride and strike it rich as a sitcom writer

There!  I made it all the way to the end of a new post!  I shall reward myself with a cookie.

Perfectionism vs Progress

I have a tendency to guard myself against failure by taking protective measures.  I over-prepare for new tasks.  When my son asked me to paint his bike, I spent two days googling “how to paint a bike,” pored over every article, developed opinions on competing methods, and read reviews of different brands of spray paint before I had even picked up a piece of sandpaper.  And in the end, the bike looked about as good as every other dad-who-doesn’t-know-what-he’s-doing paint job.  This self-protective tendency stems from perfectionism.  My desire to know all the variables, plan every detail, and avoid bumps in the road often keeps me from making any progress.

So, recently, I’ve been taking small steps toward my goals, even though I can’t see the complete path.  Last weekend I took my very first improv comedy class at the St. Louis Comedy Connection.  It’s one piece of the puzzle in my goal to create Brian 2.0.  There was nothing particularly revolutionary or life changing in the content of the class, but it was ACTION.  I wasn’t just watching youtube clips, listening to podcasts, reading comedy books, or researching improv – I was actually doing it.  We learned about the about the concept of “Yes.  And . . . ” where we force ourselves to agree with our scene partners and build on each other’s choices, rather than forcing our pre-conceived notions of where the scene should go.  I need more improvisation in more aspects of my life:  Taking more risks, learning from mistakes, facing my fears, acting before the plan is complete, and pushing through the terrifying moments.

I’ve also begun working on a sitcom pilot idea with my writing partner.  It’s something neither of us have done before, but we’re sticking our necks out there and learning as we go.  We don’t have hours and hours each day to dedicate to it, so our brainstorming and writing times are done in really short bursts.  Again, though, it’s action, and it feels great.  Our current goal is to have a script done in time for a sitcom pilot script contest, which is helping us stay focused and pace ourselves accordingly.  We’re probably making a lot of mistakes, and our writing times aren’t very efficient, but we are making progress and learning.

What are you putting off for fear of failure?  Is the desire for perfection keeping you from progress?

Brian and Stormtrooper

Sitcom writing – What I’m up to

I started roughing out some ideas for sitcoms yesterday.  That felt really good.  I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts lately for inspiration, and have especially enjoyed the Nerdist Writer’s Panel with Ben Blacker where writers of popular TV Shows (and sometimes websites, magazines, etc.) sit down and talk about the writing and production process.  It’s been very fascinating and inspirational to me.  It takes some of the mystery out of entertainment writing, and reinforces for me that successful writers are real people with the same kinds of fears and frustrations that I have.

Sitcom writing really appeals to me.  It incorporates most of the elements of what I am looking for in a new career, and would be a constant challenge that would keep me fresh.  I’d love to hear from readers who’ve had any experience with broadcast television writing.  Even if you weren’t the writer, have you met or known any?  Maybe worked on a set?  Have you done a pitch or written a spec script?  Maybe you submitted something and got rejected?  I’d love to hear any of those stories.

Oh, and other podcasts that I’ve enjoyed recently, for your listening pleasure:  The Pod F TompkastThe Dead Authors Podcast, The Thrilling Adventure Hour, The Truth, and Comedy Bang Bang.  Enjoy!