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Screenwipe: writers on writing

This week’s episode of Charlie Brooker’s Screenwipe was fascinating. Instead of pouring bile on the usual deserving targets, Brooker sat down with the writers of Doctor Who, Peep Show, Hustle, Shameless and the IT Crowd and asked them to talk about writing. Which they did. Russell T Davies was a particular delight, but I found the whole thing fascinating.

In particular, I was surprised just how universal some things are: impostor syndrome, the feeling that writing is the easy bit (it’s the thinking that’s difficult), the importance of editing, editing, editing and then doing a bit more editing, the problems of drinking too much (booze at night, coffee by day) and writers’ complete inability to even start writing until the voices in their head tell them to get working.

If you’re interested in writing, not just for the telly but in general, it’s well worth your time. The clip I’ve embedded is the first part; the whole thing’s currently on iPlayer.

3 replies on “Screenwipe: writers on writing”

Caught this by complete accident last night. I was quite fascinated, though – as Russell T Davies even pointed out once – rather a lot of it was simply the same stuff that happens in any job or vocation. Feeling like everyone else knows more than you, finding a way to actually start that big task, getting through it the first time is a drag – fixing it up and refining it after that is the fun bit (Hell, I even have *Hobbies* like that let alone real work), etc.

I got the impression with that (and the adverts one last week) that Brooker’s not bothering watching telly anymore. Hence his Guardian column being about Celebrity for the last few weeks, he can write that without having to watch.

It was a good show, mind.

Funny you should say that, I’ve been getting the distinct impression from his Guide columns that he’s just going through the motions. Cover the same thing for long enough and you do eventually get to the point where you just can’t be arsed any more – Jim Shelley (Tapehead) definitely got to that point and buggered off. Still, as you say it was a good episode nonetheless.

@tm:
“rather a lot of it was simply the same stuff that happens in any job or vocation.”

Indeed. I think it’s maybe exacerbated a wee bit in the case of writers because they tend to be freelance, so there’s an added layer of insecurity there (and because there’s no boss as such, there’s nobody to kick them up the arse and make them get on with it). That, and writers are all egotistical arses :)

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