WRITING: The Unnerving Joy of Writing Comedy II

In June I wrote about how, when writing my second comedy pilot after a disastrous first, I was constantly beset with nerves. I was deeply insecure about my ability to entertain others with my writing, because I’d failed so totally previously. Here’s an update on that.

The cardinal rule is write for yourself. In script, you have to follow the conventions of the genre, but you should still try to write a script that you would love. Though I didn’t forget that early on with this pilot, it was hard to feel it; I was enjoying my pilot but couldn’t help foreseeing failure. I was still worried that I was doing it wrong.

And then some feedback came in on the first 20 pages.

It wasn’t enthusiastic – I wasn’t suddenly Larry David or anything – but it was positive. Good characters, some laughs, and enjoyable. That gave me the confidence to finish it off nicely.

And when I got my first real, “this is gold!” review? That night I wrote 22 pages in 5 hours.

I knew that, even if everyone didn’t like it, someone did. Someone outside of my head had seen what I saw in these characters and this world. That was what made me able to get really excited about it and write more, write fast. It gave me the confidence to trust my sense of humour. Someday I hope I don’t need that to write comedy, but definitely helped on my first good project.

Write for yourself, write enough that you know what you’re doing and what you want… But don’t be afraid to show it off and get some feedback. If you’re on the right track, if you know you’re not just passionate but that you’re communicating that effectively, there’s nothing more exciting, especially for a writer still building their confidence in a given genre or style.

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