You may have heard that NBC is officially inviting viewers and aspiring television writers to pitch them ideas for a new sitcom. Here’s a great Entertainment Weekly article to get you caught up.
Termed the "NBC Comedy Playground," the contests works like this:
- Writers will submit their idea via an NBC site set up for the contest.
- The network will choose up to 10 finalists and fund each one to produce a pilot presentation based on their pitch.
- From the 10 finalists, two winners will be selected, paid, and given a chance to broadcast their pilot on NBC.
It’s easy to be cynical about this. Immediately, I wonder to what extent this is a big publicity stunt or attempt to poach ideas from content creators who are turning away from TV and toward the web. There is also a pride swallowing that happens as I picture working hard on a pitch that gets lost amid a large noisy seas of submissions from “writers” like that guy my dad works with who’s always saying “I’m telling ya there needs to be a show about horny alien party girls.”
Nonetheless, I’m going to enter the content and I believe you should do the same. Why? Because you’re a writer, and this contest is practice. Practice is the only way you get better, and it is simultaneously the thing that scares you most. You find reasons to avoid practice - reasons not to go up on the Wednesday open mic, reasons not to submit to McSweeney’s, reasons not to write that sketch show you’ve been dreaming about. Next time.
No one is going to know if your idea is dumb. No one is going to care if you are one of the millions who don’t get picked by NBC (hell, they are only picking two). But the work of actually crafting a pitch for this competition is what will make you a better writer. And the act of committing to put your work out there this time, will make it easier to do it the next. Winning long shot contests like this is rare. But entering them is the kind of reminder we all need to keep making and releasing work that could very well suck.
Everything is practice.
If you’re all about this and you want someone to nerd out with about sitcom formula, favorite shows, and writing resources, email me: email@example.com