Wiggins, pay attention at the back

I just got asked if I want to run a sketch writing workshop. My answer was an immediate and resounding … don’t know.

I’ve never really thought about it before. Do I want to teach? Am I even capable of teaching? Why would anyone want to be taught by me?

I don’t even know what goes on in a workshop having never attended a single course, workshop or seminar.

Or at least none about writing; I’ve been to quite a few Kung Fu seminars, but I doubt wannabe sketch-writers would be very pleased if I marched into the room and got them kicking each other in the head.

Or maybe they would? I have no idea. Do writing workshops normally erupt in controlled violence?

I guess I have several problems with the whole teaching thing:

  1. I’d have to commit to being somewhere on the same day every week for ten weeks. Ten weeks! I don’t know if I’ve got that kind of commitment in me.
  2. I’m not convinced I have anything useful or interesting to say on the subject. They’re looking for ten three-hour sessions. Thirty hours! I can sum it all up in two words: be funny. And short. Four words, I can sum it up in four words.
  3. I don’t want to be one of those teachers I regularly take the piss out of. You know, the ones who can’t actually write anything. I think maybe teaching is something you should do at the end of your career, after you’ve finished learning. I’ve read scripts by writing teachers and known instantly I never, ever want them telling me anything. The other day I saw an ad by some university teacher looking for someone to write his ideas for him – basically, I can’t write, can someone do it for me? Do I really want to join their ranks?

On the plus side: it would be some extra cash; I might be helping someone achieve their dreams; and I’m deluded enough to think I might actually have something useful to say.

But still, do I really want to be a teacher? What if it’s successful and leads onto more teaching? Is that really the road I want to go down?

After much deliberation … I still don’t know.


Categories: Career Path, Opportunity, Random Witterings | 14 Comments

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14 thoughts on “Wiggins, pay attention at the back

  1. Ah, c’mon. Ten weeks. How bad can it be, eh?

    One thing you should know that goes on in scriptwriting classes – you can give them tasks. Half an hour to write an hilarious sketch script, for instance, while you sit there writing down notes for a script of your own, or stare out of the window, looking all pensive and expertly. Then you can spend another hour telling them why their scripts are rubbish.

    See? Half the time accounted for, each week.

  2. remember: if you change just one of your students’ lives, it will be worth it. and don’t forget the ch-ching.

    oh you said ‘help’. you’ve got a headstart on a lot of industry teachers: you’ve done it, you’ve had it made AND you’re still doing it. that certainly qualifies you. as to whether you should or not, you’re on your own.

  3. I guess you won’t find out if its for you until you try it. I wish I had a proper writer do the writing courses I attended.

    As Jason says most of the time should writing sketches in class. Plus you can read scripts, watch sketch shows etc too. In saying all that 30 hours is quite a lot for just sketches, but doable.

    I guess this is going to be in Eastbourne?

  4. Jason: I’d thought about that, but it also seems like cheating – plus I’m pretty certain anything I wrote in a rush in a crowded room would be rubbish; I’d expect the same level of dross from everyone else. Would that be fair?

    D F: Although I’ve had stuff made, the jury’s still out on whether it’s any good or not. I know the people involved always like my work, but since no fucker has managed to finish a film yet … public opinion is a bit thin on the ground.

    CNUTS: You see, that’s what bothers me: ‘a proper writer’. I already feel like a fraud most days without standing up in front of people and lecturing them. And no, not Eastbourne – potentially Brighton.

  5. Instead of doing the “Hey come up with something on the spot!” which frankly sucks and results in suckage as far as I’m concerned (worst writing seminar I’ve ever attended that one). Instead of doing that, you could always set homework for the following week and then you have a chance of getting some halfway good material, people can read their eforts out, get feedback, etc. again half the class time taken up.

    3 hours is still long though… that’s at least 15 hours of teaching material you need to have. !!!

    But you’d be a great teacher IMO.

    Go on, do it! You know you want to! 🙂

  6. You could get someone to volunteer a sketch they’ve written, then get everyone to take a constructive look at it, identify the good and bad aspects, work out improvements, then drive the volunteer to suicide.

    Or you could watch some classic comedy sketches and talk about what makes ’em great. Textbook.

  7. You are already more qualified than most teachers of writing courses! 🙂

    You can brainstorm sketch ideas during the lesson, get them to write it up (homework) deconstruct sketch scripts and watch sketches too.

    I think the question is do you want to do it? I don’t think there’s much doubt that you CAN do it. Your guides on here prove that by themselves.

  8. How much are they offering?

    Everyone here thinks you can do it, and that it would be good for the people that you’re teaching.

    So the only question is whether it’s a valuable use of your time. Which depends on how much they’re paying you.

  9. Thanks for the ego-massage everyone and the tips. I’ve got a vague handle on what I’d do now. As for the money, Piers … it’s just a vague discussion at the moment, but you’ve got a good point.

  10. Ten weeks is certainly long enough to raise commitment issues – what about agreeing with another sketch writer to be your ‘stand-in’ if an unmissable opportunity arises that would take you away for a couple of weeks during this course, for instance?

    I’ve read your extremely useful posts about sketch writing, seen some of your sketches and have no doubt you’d do the job well. I think teaching the odd course can be stimulating and fun and rewarding, but teaching too many courses gets in the way of your own work.

    One more thing – if you are going to do it, I think it’s really important to give accurate information in adverts for the course – who it’s aimed at, what you’ll cover, what people can expect to get out of it, etc. That way you end up with (hopefully) a more focused and ultimately more satisfied group.

  11. hehe in brighton. I might come and sit at the front and stare,

  12. Josie: thank you, all good points. It’s all still at the discussion stage at the moment, but it’s something to bear in mind.

    Ben: you could shout ‘WRONG’ every time I open my mouth.

  13. I could pretend to be the internet and just shout FAIL and YOU SUX or YOU ARE GAY AND SUX

  14. Excellent.

    In fact, I’ll pay you to do that about half an hour in, then I can storm out claiming ‘not to be able to teach under those conditions’ and I can get away with only prepping a sixth of each lesson.

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