30 Practical Ways To Beat Writer’s Block

This article doesn’t fool around. It doesn’t settle for giving us a couple of tips, oh, no, no, nooo! Here are thirty – count ’em – thirty ways for all of us to get off our butts, leave our self-pity behind, and $#@! write!


by Amanda Patterson

Many of us talk about becoming writers, but when we finally have the time and we’re still stuck, will we have what it takes to go beyond the dread writer’s block? Here are 30 tips to help you. Good luck!
When you have a problem with your story:

  1. Handwrite the scene you are working through. Do this for at least one day.
  2. Go to a public place and watch people. Describe what they do and say. Try to find a way to use their body language, and the sights, noises, and odours around you in your own story.
  3. Change the setting in your story. You may want to change it back later, but for the purpose of the exercise, move the characters into another location.
  4. Introduce a new character who watches your main characters. Describe the scene you are writing from that new character’s viewpoint. This should give you a different perspective on the problem.
  5. Use your daily writing prompt to start a scene in your story.
  6. Change the timeline. Make the scene you are busy with an epilogue or a prologue or the beginning or ending of the story.
  7. Ask your character if his or her bucket list has changed since you began writing the story. If it has, rewrite it. If it has not, perhaps it should.
  8. Write from another character’s perspective. If you have been telling the story through the protagonist’s viewpoint, write a scene through the eyes of the antagonist’s sidekick.
  9. Make your character behave out of character. If your heroine is brave, make her back away. What happens when she does this?
  10. Ask your character to list the five things he or she is grateful for right now. If you do not know, you may need to spend more time with your character.
  11. Change tenses. If you’re writing in present tense, switch to past tense and vice versa. Do this for an entire scene. You may find that it gives you ideas for what to leave in and what to exclude.
  12. Research something that interests a character in your story – even if you’re not interested in it. List five things you could use in the story as a result of this research.
  13. Add multimedia to your story. Allow your character to use tweets, emails, and texts to give your story texture.
  14. What if? How can you make things infinitely worse or better for your protagonist at this moment? Is it something you could use?
  15. Stay in the moment. Make sure you won’t be disturbed. Get inside your character’s skin and write the scene moment-by-moment, breath by breath….

Read it all at Writers Write

America: where British sitcoms go to die

Considering how off the mark U.S. adaptations of UK sitcoms often are, the writer of the following article wonders why British comedy series creators look forward to seeing their work produced on our side of the pond. But to us at TVWriter™ the question is more along the lines of, “Why can’t American writers get UK comedies right?” (Hint: We don’t see this as the writers’ fault at all.)

THE THICK OF IT failed on U.S. Network TV but is running strong on cable as VEEP

THE THICK OF IT failed on U.S. Network TV but is running strong on cable as VEEP

by Andrew Collins

Imagine an alternative universe where Dad’s Army, The Young Ones, The Thick of It and Spaced never got past the pilot stage and Fawlty Towers was cancelled midway through series one. Well, that nightmarish world exists: it’s called the United States, and it’s the place where the brightest and best British sitcoms go to die.

Caitlin and Caroline Moran’s semi-autobiographical Raised By Wolves, about two sisters growing up in a large family in Wolverhampton, is the latest Britcom to arouse transatlantic interest. The Channel 4 original makes its US debut this week on streaming service Acorn. But, more mouth-wateringly, a deal for an American version has been agreed with Oscar-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody (Juno, Young Adult) hired to write the pilot. Caitlin tells me she is “staggered” by the US interest: “When you set a sitcom in Wolverhampton, you’re obviously not expecting that.” But, despite all the flag-waving goodwill and agape expectation, it has little hope of succeeding, statistically at least.

There was a golden period of intersection in the 1970s and early 80s, when three of America’s biggest sitcoms were adapted from British formats: All in the Family on CBS (Till Death Us Do Part), Sanford and Son on NBC (Steptoe and Son) and Three’s Company on ABC (Man About the House). But the last of those went off-air in 1984, and since then the pickings have been slim. NBC’s free-spirited incarnation of The Office ran for 201 episodes and won five Emmys, but its transatlantic transformation was something of an exception.

Why does US transfer remain such a holy grail for UK writers?

I asked Kenton Allen, the hands-on CEO at Big Talk, home of Raised By Wolves, Rev and Friday Night Dinner (the returning Channel 4 show whose own attempted US transfer,adapted by Greg Daniels of The Office, never made it past pilot). “Comedy costs as much as drama but you get less for it, so you used to make money out of selling things like … do you remember DVDs? If you had a Gavin & Stacey, you would sell hundreds of thousands of DVDs. That changed when box-set streaming, Netflix and Sky came online. One of the ways of extracting value from your hard-won British comedy is to try to remake it in America.”

So it is partly about the money. “We could make two series of The Thick of It for what it costs to make a single episode of Veep,” says Simon Blackwell, a writer and producer on the modest BBC4 original and its HBO translation….

Read it all at The Guardian

Web Series: “Fantasy Hospital”

Our Beloved Leader, Larry Brody, AKA Our BLLB, recently acquired an interest in an emerging animation studio. The following is not one of their productions…but he kinda wishes it was. “It’s the innocence here that I love,” he says.

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New epsiode every Wednesday!

Speaking confidentially, we kinda miss the old OBBLB. You know, the cynical, pragmatic guy. But Fantasy Hospital is another example of how all of us have a good chance to entertain others as niche creators on the web.

Dennis O’Neil: The Return of Doodyville!

NOTE FROM LB: The Howdy Doody Show was my absolute favorite when I was a kid. So much a favorite that I remember sitting on the floor and watching it one day when I was four years old and praying to you-know-Who that I would never get any older because I knew that when I did I wouldn’t love Howdy and the gang anymore. Some people say I never did get any older. Maybe there really is a God.

That's Howdy in the middle, for those who are not of a certain age

That’s Howdy in the middle, for those who are not of a certain age

by Dennis O’Neil

Our man Thunderthud was called a “chief,” but he wore only a single feather on his head instead of the fully-feathered bonnet we were used to seeing perched atop guys who answered to “chief” in the cowboy pictures I saw before you were born. The (if I may) chief is most notable, not for something he wore, but for something he said. This was “Kowabunga,” sometimes spelled “Cowabunga” and used mostly, if memory serves, as an expletive you could say freely in front of your church-going grandma. Some of you – most of you? – thought that Kowa/Cowabunga originated with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, of movie and comic book fame. Sorry, but no.

Beginning in 1947, Chief Thunderthud dwelt in Doodyville which, in turn, was located in midtown Manhattan in a studio owned and operated by The National Broadcasting Company.

He wasn’t necessarily lonely, there is Studio 3B. Doodyville had other inhabitants, some of them marionettes, such the town mayor, Mr. Bluster, a strange beastie known as Flubadub who seemed to be a mashup of eight different animals and, of course, Howdy himself. Human beings also called Doodyville home. There was the chief, and another member of Thunderthud’s tribe, Princess Summerfall Winterspring who was sometimes called Judy Tyler and who later made a movie with Elvis Presley. (Presley wasn’t a puppet, either.)

And there was Clarabell the Clown, who spoke only three words in the show’s entire run and who communicated by blowing a horn and whose favorite prank was squirting seltzer into somebody’s face. That Clarabell! What a hoot! Though maybe I should mention that he was amale hoot, despite the name.)

We’ve saved the best for last. I refer to none other than Buffalo Bob Smith, who did a lot of things including but not limited to emceeing the proceedings, interacting with the studio audience, and – here comes a surprise – supplying Howdy’s voice. Bob wasn’t a ventriloquist the way, say, Jeff Dunham is a ventriloquist, but who cared if his lips moved when Howdy talked? As long as a camera wasn’t aimed at him during Howdy’s chat, nobody except the kids and other performers and technical people knew exactly where the words were coming from. And did they care?

Why all this Howdy stuff now? Well, Howdy’s coming back! He’ll star in a Fourth of July video marathon that will incorporate old shows and new material, and maybe serve as a pilot for similar excursions into Doodyville. Which prompts us to ask: If Chief Thunderthud and the lovely princess were debuting today, would they run afoul of the defenders of political correctness? Will the antics of the Chief and princess, which could be seen as racist lampoons, be shown on July Fourth? Should they be seen as racist? I don’t know.

Final question: why? Has the world been yearning for a return to Doodyville?

Dennis O’Neil is one of the top writer-editors in comics, having guided the careers of just about every superhero the world has ever heard of. He’s also a damn fine writer of TV. LB still remembers that time he and Denny collaborated, without ever knowing they were doing so. Or knowing each other either. Ah, the magic of TV! This post was first published in Denny’s column at ComicMix.

Inside NICOLIFE, the Web Series LB luvs!

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NOTE FROM LB: A couple of weeks ago, we featured a new web series called NicoLife here on TVWriter™ and, yes, it’s true, grumpy old me kinda fell in love with it. I think this is an exceptionally well done series which would work just as well on TV (whatever that is these days) and the interwebs (whatever they are these days.

Recently I talked to Robin Nystom, the show’s multiple hyphenate Writer-Director-Producer, to ask the two questions that always comes to mind the first time I see or read anything, anywhere, from any creator: “What is it you want NICOLIFE to accomplish, artistically and personally/professionally? How does it fit into your dream future?”

Here’s Robin’s answer:

NicoLife Behind the Scenes Capture

by Robin Nystrom

On the one hand, my goals with Nicolife were ambitious. I set out to elevate the web series format with a satirical and dark and compelling story that twists and turns in unexpected ways across six episodes. On the other hand, Nicolife has been a passion project more than anything else, born out of a desire to create. It was never driven by a wish to make money. I simply wanted to create something in the world that wasn’t there when we started—in my opinion, that’s one of the most beautiful things you can do.

The comedy web series Nicolife tells the story of Nicolai and Phil, two attention-starved nobodies who desire fame and fortune above everything else. Unfortunately, their social ineptitude lead them down a path of tragedy and death. The show is a satirical look at the egocentrism of our YouTube generation.

Season 1 of Nicolife was produced on location in San Luis Obispo, California by a group of film lovers. What we lacked in monetary resources, we made up for in passion and creativity.

Zero-budget film making means that you film first and ask questions later. This was certainly the case for the Nicolife team. We took over the homes of friends and family members (with or without their permission).

We convinced a local business owner to let us shoot inside his laundromat. We got kicked out of a grocery store when we tried to film a short scene guerrilla style.

We were hit by a harsh rain storm on a mountaintop, during the longest drought in California history, and had to carry our camera equipment down a mudslide.

We were almost arrested by two cops when we shot a scene outside an ATM and were accused of using “suspicious equipment.”

We inflicted plenty of scrapes and bruises on our poor actors (sorry, couldn’t afford stunt doubles).

And last but not least, we made two fake DIY corpses and became well-versed in the art of making large amounts of fake and edible blood.

Even with all the challenges that we had to face, the production team had a blast…which is why my dream future is to share my stories with people from all walks of life, all over the world.

Nicolife will always be a part of my storytelling repertoire, even as I move on to other creative endeavors. We just hope that people will enjoy watching the show as much as we enjoyed making it…which is why my dream future is to share my stories with people from all walks of life, all over the world.

Thank you, LB!

Website: http://www.nicolife.net
YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/c/NicolaiTravis
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WatchNicolife
Twitter: @NicolaiTravis

Productivity for Writers and Other People

Meredith Allard is a successful novelist who actually shares the “secrets” of her success. We at TVWriter™ dig her. You will too:


by Meredith Allard

It’s interesting to me to see how conversations change over time. Not so long ago everyone was praising multi-tasking as the best thing ever. Hey, I can write the world’s greatest novel while reading blogs while checking every new email the moment it pops into my inbox while keeping track of every ping on Facebook and Twitter while walking the dog while doing my taxes while binge watching Netflix while juggling watermelons while yodeling to the tune of “O Solo Mio.” At the end of the day I’d wonder why I hadn’t written more. Had I really lost an entire day watching cat videos on YouTube? Then I realized that I didn’t want to spend more time working. I wanted to get more done.

Around this time, I started seeing articles about how multi-tasking may not be all it was cracked up to be. We weren’t putting all our attention and talent into any one task; as a result, we weren’t working to the best of our abilities because our attention was too scattered. Enter the discussion about productivity.

I think the reason there are so many articles about productivity is because so many of us are struggling with the same issue—how do we work more efficiently so that we’re getting more and better work done in less time? Here are a few tricks I’ve learned lately that have helped me stay focused while I’m working. I wrote this post from the point of view of a writer hoping to steal back some of her precious time to get more writing done, but I hope anyone who is having some concerns about their productivity will find these tips useful.

  1. I changed my homepage for the Internet.

Since I’ve had the Internet in the mid 1990s I’ve used AOL as my homepage. My email address is through AOL, so by using AOL as my homepage I could check my email as soon as I logged online. But you know how it goes…there are the news links, the entertainment links, the books links, along with any other links that might catch my eye. Once AOL and The Huffington Post joined hands, I was done for. I’d spend an hour reading blog posts and getting no work done in the process. Was it fun? For sure, though there were definitely times when I was wondering why I was reading about celebrities I didn’t even care about. I had just wasted an hour I could have spent getting my work done.

About three months ago I changed my Internet homepage to my own website. That might sound a little self-serving, but it helps me in two ways. First, I can do a quick glance at my site to see if there are comments I need to respond to, which I can often do in under five minutes. Second, there are no news feeds to distract me so I’m able to get right to whatever it is I need on the Internet. Yes, I have to click on one or two more links to get to my email, but it’s worth it to me to skip over the distractions.

  1. I check my email twice a day.

I check my email in the morning to see if there’s anything imperative that needs seeing to, and then I check my email at the end of my work day to see if there’s something that came in since the morning. That’s it.

  1. I removed the Facebook and Twitter apps from my phone and iPad.

Now the only way I can access Facebook and Twitter is to log in on my computer. This extra step helps to scratch the itch that used to lead me to check my social media pages every five minutes to see if someone posted a new cute cat photo. I check Facebook and Twitter twice a day, quick scans to see what others are up to and if there’s anything I need to respond to, which, again, I can usually do in less than five minutes….

Read it all at Meredith Allard’s helpful and entertaining blog