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January 09, 2008



There have been a couple of sitcom episodes dealing (ever so gently) with writer's block from the old "Dick Van Dyke" show, and Season 3 of "The Odd Couple" had a whole episode based on writer's block, where I believe the denouncement was Oscar figured out the theme of his book when he decided he couldn't kill Felix. However, I do think the inability to murder your male roommate is probably a solution to the problem for only a small percentage of writers in the real world.


I found the Steve Peterman quote to explain so much about the abysmal state of TV and movies: turn out a script no matter what and quality be damned. Honestly, I'm still hoping the producers find a way to pull a Reagan and fire the lot of you WGA guys permanently.


hey ya Ken, great posts about writers block, if only i wrote ANYTHING!I was hoping you would comment on the choice words John Stewart had about the writers demand for royalties for online content... I can't say I agree with him, I mean, I can see where he is coming from but I cant believe he lives in such a naive word... I mean, if the big wigs make a few BILLION i think writers deserve a chunk! The money IS being made, so give a (still shitty) amount of it up!Sorry to go off on a tangent, but HEY! love your work...


Write a 2 part blog posting on "Overcoming Writers Block."If all else fails, go on strike for several months. Walk on a sidewalk outside a studio carrying a cardboard sign. Nothing stimulates ideas like pacing back and forth.


A great way to get better focus is to use a word processor program that has fullscreen mode. That blocks out all the distractions on your computer. I use Write Room (Macs only).


So let me get this straight, jd: You think if the networks dump all the guild writers and replace them with less experienced scribes, they will then allow these newbies to take their sweet time and only work when inspired?Also, I expect most of the great TV shows and movies were written under the same time pressures as the crappy ones. Quality need not be "damned" (and Peterman never said otherwise). Nice try though.


Okay, then - why are most of the shows done in the UK head-and-shoulders better than any of the "great" TV shows we have in the US? Where are the "Waking The Dead" and "Blood In The Wire"? "Coupling" was the funniest sitcom in the history of the genre - where is it's US equivalent? Cheers? Mash? Seinfeld? While all those shows had their (few) moments, they cannot hold a candle to the UK comedies. So how about we get rid of the WGA folks and have all our shows written by UK writers?


jd: It doesn't matter who's writing the shows as long as the production deadlines remain the same. If US networks adopted the same production and scheduling strategies as the UK, then sure, overall quality of US product might go up. Writers of the British shows you mention didn't have to turn out 20-odd episodes per season over multiple seasons. Apples and oranges. Doesn't mean current WGA members are incapable of writing of that quality.And by the way, I suspect we see only the absolute best of the British stuff here. I doubt their schedule is packed with nothing but gems.


Forgive for engaging with this AMPTP shill, everybody. I shouldn't have taken the bait.


jd, you seem like a bitter, angry person. i'm from the uk... and our shows are shit. you have Davids Milch, Chase, Simon, Mamet, Shawn Ryan and Joss Whedon! You should feel proud. There's not a single thing made in the UK that I watch.


I've seen his work so many times and always wondered--how do you pronounce "Phoef?"


"Fushing FEEF!" (- Stephen King)


I'm like Lloyd Garver - I hate to "get in trouble" by being late for a deadline. I'm a non-fiction writer, and I have daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly deadlines. Just like any other job, you have to get your work done on time or the boss (editor) gets very cranky with you. So you learn to find inspiration anywhere in a pinch, and "just do it," as those commercials used to say. (I once finished an article at the 11th hour after staring blankly out the window for hours. Suddenly I found myself focused on the telephone pole by the curb, and I wondered who makes them? What type of wood is used? How long do they last? Turns out there's a pretty interesting story behind the life cycle of a utility pole.) I'm a long-time reader of your blog, Ken, and I enjoy it immensely! Keep fighting the good fight - Solidarity!


MARC FLANAGAN said that writer's block is neither dramatic nor amusing but procrastination on the other hand...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cu6bwUOTtEPart 2http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGTJNYDCL4IA classic from my Canadian youth.

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    Ken Levine is an Emmy winning writer/director/producer/major league baseball announcer. In a career that has spanned over 30 years Ken has worked on MASH, CHEERS, FRASIER, THE SIMPSONS, WINGS, EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND, BECKER, DHARMA & GREG, and has co-created his own series including ALMOST PERFECT starring Nancy Travis. He and his partner wrote the feature VOLUNTEERS. Ken has also been the radio/TV play-by-play voice of the Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, San Diego Padres.
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