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Maria Ferrari

By Scriptedwhim
Maria Ferrari
Maria Ferrari is a writer and supervising producer on "The Big Bang Theory."  Her other television-writing credits include "The Bill Engvall Show" and "How I Met Your Mother."  She is a graduate of Northwestern University.
Maria on...
The ProcessBefore I had a kid, I used to sit on my couch with a laptop and write until I was feeling stuck or burned out, then play video games until I was having fun again. At the time it felt like a critical part of my process and keeping myself in a creative zone. In retrospect it seems pretty luxurious. I have always liked to write in coffee shops, but now I pretty much have to because my one-year-old son goes out of his mind with jealousy whenever he sees someone typing on a keyboard. So I often spend a lot of time outlining a script at home with a pen and paper, or talking story decisions over with my husband while we’re out on a walk, so that when I do spend a couple of hours at a coffee shop I’m able to use that time to do the actual writing. I do think having a regular writing schedule, a dedicated space, and other rituals associated with writing are really helpful, especially when you’re just starting out. But sometimes you have to be flexible.

SatisfactionFor me, the most satisfying thing about writing is the feeling of continually improving. It's like levelling up in a game. I'm addicted to it.

KnowingI have been interested in playwriting since high school. I did a creative writing program in college that introduced me to television writing. By the time I had finished my first spec script in that class I was pretty sure it was something I wanted to pursue. I had some early external validation of my work from competitions, etc. that gave me the hubris it took to actually move to LA, when I had absolutely no contacts and no real idea of whether this was actually a viable path for me.
“Malcolm in the Middle” was a new show when I started to think about writing for television for the first time, and it really seemed exciting and novel. I was very inspired when “Scrubs” came out, too. And of course everyone I knew loved “Friends” and “The Simpsons” and “South Park,” which remains one of the funniest and most consistent shows on television.

The First TimeI’ve seen my work performed live a handful of times, and it is always exciting and terrifying. I’ve seen a couple of the same pieces performed more than once in different venues, and it was a great education in the difference a good director makes, and how critically important it is to have great actors. It’s intensely personal, watching something you’ve written performed live, but also incredibly public, so when the performance and the direction and the text aren’t working together it can feel like your skin is just burning off… but when everything is clicking it’s the best feeling in the world. I don’t know any more intense connection than the love and gratitude I feel for an actor who is doing a great job with something I’ve written, even if I’ve basically never met them before. It is the most expansive emotion I’ve ever personally experienced. After, of course, the love I feel for my husband and my child. But, full disclosure, my husband made me add that last part.

AdviceThis is cheating because someone actually did give me this advice, although I didn’t really believe it at the time. At the start of my career I was always much too determined to hang onto jokes and story points that I liked. Someone told me that young writers always worry that they won’t have any more ideas – and was certainly true for me. Writing on the same show every day and having to make constant adjustments – for the EP in the room, for the EP who was out of the room when you wrote that scene, for the studio and network, etc. you eventually realize that it’s okay to let go of things, even if they are funny or great, if they don’t fit in this particular scene or script. It’s okay! You will come up with more ideas!
Click here for more information on Maria's work, and make sure to tune in to "The Big Bang Theory" on Thursday nights at 8/7c on CBS.

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By Karen Samuel Boley
posted on 05 January at 04:00

Hey, Maria, I just realized we went to kindergarten together in the Pegasus program at Taylor School in Cleveland Heights. I love Big Bang. My husband is a theoretical astrophysicist, and yeah, you hit pretty close to home. The characters don't drink enough coffee, however. I'm glad to see you've been doing well the last, oh, 28 years or so.