From Judd Apatow's MasterClass

Writing Habits

The prospect of filling the blank page is scary—even for Judd. Learn Judd's personal habits for finding his flow and allowing his creative mind to take the reins.

Topics include: Find the Habits That Support Your Flow • Give Your Brain Time to Work • Read Your Script Out Loud

Play

The prospect of filling the blank page is scary—even for Judd. Learn Judd's personal habits for finding his flow and allowing his creative mind to take the reins.

Topics include: Find the Habits That Support Your Flow • Give Your Brain Time to Work • Read Your Script Out Loud

Judd Apatow

Teaches Comedy

Learn More

Preview

I think that everybody writes differently. I was just talking to somebody. And they said when John Hughes had an idea, his approach was to force himself to write the entire screenplay immediately. Sometimes in a weekend, maybe it's sometimes in two weeks. So some of those movies that we all love, he wrote really fast. Because he felt like, if I have a notion, if I force myself to get an all out of me, when I'm done, I'll know if there's something there and if it's worth pursuing. So he would try to write the full script as his opening volley of his process. And you get in that flow alone. You can get in it with other people. I like rooms and rooms of TV shows. And there are definitely moments where everyone just starts laughing and the room takes off and cracks a problem and people start pitching jokes. And it feels like Cream playing live. And suddenly, it's happening. It also can happen alone. The problem sometimes is you start typing, and you feel it coming, and there's a part of you that just wants to go watch TV. Because it's almost scary. And you're afraid it'll stop. And you really have to learn how you push through. I feel like people like Stephen King, who write a lot, they really understand how to access that place where their mind is creating stories. And they don't ruin it somehow. You know, one of my heroes is David Milch, who co-created "NYPD Blue" and created "Deadwood." And he's of the belief that you should try to write at the same time everyday. And that when you're not writing, you should not think about writing. That if you write at the same time every day, when you hit the chair, you're mind knows, oh, this is the moment when we do this. And he said there's no reason to think about writing when you're not writing. Because it's like thinking about going to the gym. If you're not at the gym, you're not doing it. So why talk about [CHUCKLES] And although that is not how I work, because I never can get the same hours going, I do think it's probably helpful. - It's worth thinking about how you can create the environment for those moments to happen. And then there are other times where you realize, it's not happening today. And you just got to shut it down. A lot of writing is about tooling around and cleaning up your room and taking a walk. And that's why, I think, we tend to come up with a lot of our best ideas in the shower or in spaces where we're doing something else. Because when our mind is clear, sometimes those ideas just suddenly bubble up. Because we're not on Twitter reading about Donald Trump. But I really think that your mind is unconsciously outlining for you. And there is an aspect to writing, which is when you're asleep, it's working out problems. So in the same way that you go to sleep and you dream and some part of your brain is making up a story, that is happening with your movie and TV story ideas. So if you trust that your brain is working on it, then when you finally sit do...

Get serious about comedy

No joke: at age 15, Judd Apatow took a dishwashing job at a comedy club to watch the acts. Today, he’s the comedic genius behind hits including The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Bridesmaids, and Freaks and Geeks. In his first-ever online comedy class, the Emmy Award winner teaches you how to create hilarious storylines, write great stand-up, and direct movies that leave audiences laughing.

Reviews

4.7
Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Judd gives so much terrific advice in here for the aspiring comedian. Whether you're a stand-up, screenwriter, or director there's something for all in this Masterclass. I really feel like this is going to help improve my screenplays. Thank you Mr. Apatow and thank you Masterclass.

I thought this class helped me a alot And I really felt comfortable and connected to this class I would recommend it to people who need improving

Judd was truly great. He effectively and persuasively covered seemingly every aspect of a career in comedy and made me look at the business and the art of comedy with fresh eyes. Yes, I will go write a joke right now.

Judd is highly entertaining, extremely articulate and very informative. Lots of super pratical advice for how to craft comedy and steer your career. A very, very good course.

Comments

EK T.

This is what I have been waiting for. Yes. I know. Its about writing comedy. On the other hand, what he is talking about works for drama, as well.

Daniel B.

Some people are just creative and don't need to think much about making the story work. Read your story aloud and record. I have to finish first but that sounds like something I would like to try.

George C.

His description of it "almost feeling mystical",... it's that feeling of being in the zone, like it's not your own thoughts but something coming to you from the elsewhere. And all that's left for you is to write it down. There is research now that is discovering unconscious brain activity which supports the idea that your brain is creating ideas when "you" are not thinking about such things. There is also research that shows the brain can recognize patterns (in card games for example) the the brain's owner is not aware of.

Meg N.

I really liked this talk, from two directions: 1) I've tried the "write at the same time every day, for a set period of time" and it really made me feel like such a failure slopping out text that even I didn't want to read, much less read aloud or read a second time. Hearing that other people have writing schedules that are irregular and rely on the brain knowing when it's ready was very comforting... and 2) One of my several "day jobs" is translating, and with that work comes deadlines. I usually end up pushing through set-up and background research, and then the main translation work gets done when the sense that "it's time" hits me.. for the best results. When I do the final edit / confirmation, the patches I did when just pushing through are different from those that came "when the time was right"... applying this to writing may just be how I need to work.

charlie M.

I'm working on a reboot a web series I did called My Transient Life. Judd Apatow's work and this class have been inspiring & I'm hoping to connect with other fans of his.

Brian S. -.

This one, above all others so far, just felt like he was rambling about whatever came to his mind. A couple times I thought maybe he was going somewhere with it but would end up deleting my notes because he went on a tangent to nowhere. I won't say this lesson was useless, but it certainly wasn't what I hoped it would be.

Warren D.

The downloads are definitely helpful in understanding exactly what Judd is saying about writing and revising. As a matter of practice, I have always found reading my material aloud to be extremely helpful in evaluating how things are working in the narrative.

Mia S.

"Suddenly, it all starts making sense in a way that feels almost mystical. But you just have to be open to it - you have to have enough time and trust to allow that to happen, because you care about certain things and you don't even realize you care about them. Sometimes when you're done with a script, you go, 'Oh that's what I was trying to say.' The key to my approach is, as early as I can, I try to read it out loud, because that always reveals a lot of the problems and what's going well. Then once it exists, then you start liking then. Then you have a draft where you're like, 'Oh, I kind of get this,' and then you just keep reading it. I know some people, they'll record the entire script - I think Peter Weir did this, he would record the entire script and then just listen to it in his car all the time. He could hear what was wrong with the scenes and the dialogue, just from listening to it over and over again. You just start watching it in your mind, and I will get actors to read it out loud. Sometimes we know we're going to make the movie, sometimes we don't; we read Super Bad years before we made Super Bad. Then you get all that information, and I try to do multiple table reads."

Mia S.

"It's worth thinking about how you can create the environment for those moments to happen. There are other times when you realize, 'It's not happening today,' and you just got to shut it down. A lot of writing is about tooling around and cleaning up your room, taking a walk, and that's why we tend to come up with a lot of our best ideas in the shower or in spaces where we're doing something else, because when our mind is clear, sometimes those ideas just suddenly bubble up, because we're not on Twitter reading about Donald Trump. I really think that your mind is unconsciously outlining for you. There is an aspect to writing which is when you're asleep, it's working out problems; in the same way that you dream, some part of your brain is making up a story... that is happening with your movie and TV stories. If you trust that your brain is working on it, then when you finally sit down at the computer, suddenly there's more ideas there. That is something that I learned in the middle of my career: to trust not working. When you're not working at all, your brain is still working. It will offer you up all sorts of weird notions when you least expect it - sometimes in the shower, meditating, or just sitting around."

Mia S.

"Everybody writes differently. When John Hughes had an idea, his idea was to force himself to write the entire screenplay immediately - sometimes in a weekend, maybe sometimes in two weeks. Some of those movies that we all love, he wrote really fast, because he thought, 'If I have a notion, if I force myself to get it all out of me, when I'm done, I'll know if there's something there worth pursuing.' So he would try to write the full script as his opening volley of his process. You can get in that flow alone, you can get in it with other people. I like rooms of TV shows, and there are definitely just moment where everyone starts laughing and the room takes off and cracks a problem; people start pitching jokes, and it feels like Queen playing live, and suddenly it's happening. It also can happen alone - the problem is sometimes you start typing and you feel it coming and there's a part of me that just wants to go watch TV, because it's almost scary, you're afraid it'll stop, and you really have to learn how you push through. People like Stephen King, who write a lot, they really understand how to access that place where their mind is creating stories, and they don't ruin it, somehow. David Milch, he's of the belief that you should try to write at the same time every day, and that when you're not writing, you should not think about writing; that if you write at the same time every day, when you hit the chair, your mind knows, 'Oh, this is the moment when we do this.' He said there's no reason to think about writing when you're not writing, because it's like thinking about going to the gym - you're not doing it, why talk about it? That is not how I work, because I never can get the same hours going."