Friday, 5 December 2008

Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe writer's special

Watching Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe this week was really inspiring. He sat with Graham Lineham (Father Ted, The IT Crowd), Paul Abbott (State of Play), Russell T Davies (Dr Who), Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong (Peep Show) and some others and discussed the art and science of writing. Not just writing for TV but writing in general. The only weird bit was the omission of any female or efnik writers, especially when there are some awesome writers out there who can spin a good yarn. But it was inspiring to see how Graham Linehan writes. Now, much as I find the IT Crowd very hit and miss, I enjoyed how Linehan basically keeps a public diary of everything he finds funny stored away for when these items will seep into his subconscious and slowly work their way into plots. Also, in how keeping an image in your head, if it's funny, and turning that into a story will eventually keep you in the practice of observing everything around you and making that your inspiration, collecting thoughts phrases and images in your bank. Larry David has a small notebook in his pocket that a word or a phrase and a tic will end up being used. The phrase 'close-talker' or 'low-talker' will eventually become a character trait that spirals into a piece of destructive comedy plot. Richard Herring keeps an online diary where he insists on recording a daily funny occurence that inspires him. It gets you in the habit of finding things around you funny and finding a way of conveying that event to a mass of people who weren't there to experience it. Such simple techniques, but so effective. I'm constantly looking for inspiration in all around me and it's hard, sometimes, getting the will to record it all. But, Russell T Davies said it best, 'a writer... just f***ing writes. If you're not writing, you're not a writer.' So thanks to Charlie Brooker for putting aside the caustic misanthropic worldview that peppers his work for one week to highlight the process the mystifies us from a nearly diverse range of writers. The diversity was perhaps in their subjects and remits rather than in who they were. It was still a great programme and worth watching for all wannabes like me. Who knows, it might fire you up, sending you into a meditative state of complete focus for a night, guzzling coffee and getting hypnotised by the tip-tap of the keyboard.

No comments: