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Home » Archives » July 2007 » Why No Murphy Brown? Did I Really Not Have a Murphy Brown?
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07/05/2007: Why No Murphy Brown? Did I Really Not Have a Murphy Brown?

Greetings from Vancouver. Ever since I've arrived, I've noticed a fair number of people walking tiny Yorkie pups. Cute as heck. Vancouver, I re-christen thee New Yorkie City.

I was walking along today, trying to avoid stepping on puppies, and thinking about productivity. I was wondering how many specs I should be expecting all of you aspiring writers to produce in a year. Here is how I reconstruct my own spec-writing years:

In the two years leading up to the Disney Fellowship, I wrote three Star Trek: The Next Generations and a Northern Exposure and two Seinfelds.

During my year in the fellowship, I wrote a Coach, a Larry Sanders, a Roseanne and a Frasier.

After that, I starting having produced samples, so I had less need of new specs, especially since my spec Roseanne was still doing well for me, but I added a spec Friends and an NYPD Blue.

Now, in the current climate, you're being encouraged to write original pieces rather than specs for existing shows. Those take longer, since you have to do all the work of creating the world and the people in it. So let's say, hmm, if I was writing four specs a year, you need only aim at writing three. (Although I think you can do better.)

I've always said that one of the advantages of writing a spec, compared to writing a script while employed for a show, is that you can take all the time you need to get it perfect. This doesn't mean that it has to take a lot of time to get it perfect! Break your story carefully, write it with confidence, polish it, get notes from others, rewrite it, then start on another one. You can always go back later and reread the first one again and take another pass at it, but your goal should be to have a variety of completed scripts that you are proud of, and ready to hand over at a moment's notice. You never know when that golden opportunity will arrive in the form of a person with a script-shaped hole in their needs. Be ready.

Lunch: catering truck lunch from the Vancouver sets of Battlestar Galatica. Tamale pie with tortillas and homemade salsas and sweet-potato fries and ketchup-flavored potato chips. Perfect.


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Walt Disney Writing Fellowship Program
UC Berkeley
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