Norman Lear's writers said that this was the highest praise he could say about a script
Lear offered this advice.
To write for Norman Lear is wish fulfillment to the utmost degree. He's a master of the craft, and those who have worked for him frequently spoke up about the experience, noting that they were better for it.
Charlie Hauck, a writer and producer for Lear's show, Maude, actually discussed what it was like working with Lear, who he said would bring in his own story ideas sometimes in addition to reading other writers' scripts and offering critique. According to Sitcom Writers Talk Shop by Paula Finn, Hauck said, "Whenever we broke a story, we'd go in and pitch it to Norman... The joke was that his ultimate praise of a script was 'It will rewrite well.'" Hauck added, "When he bought a copy of the Declaration of Independence, we joked that he bought it because it would rewrite well!"
Lear's praise is reminiscent of the phrase "Writing is rewriting," but it wasn't his only keen wisdom that served as the key to creating memorable content for the series. Phil Doran, a writer for All in the Family, said that while working out script ideas, the writing team was constantly recorded and the entire writing session was later transcribed, dialogue, comments, and tangents in all.
Doran said, "We called it the Richard M. Nixon memorial recording system; we'd sit around this large conference tale, and literally microphones were on, so you had to be careful about your language or saying something nasty about anyone in the room. The recording was so that nothing was lost because we had a room full of writers, and people were pitching stuff fast." He continued, "We had some great joke writers on that show, really heavy hitters. And you didn't want to miss a punch line."
The emphasis on rewriting seemed to be Lear's encouragement to the writers to give a script their all and leave nothing out, as evidenced by Doran's anecdote. Lear also abided by that method and specifically mentioned advice given to him by a psychiatrist that he abided by throughout his life.
Lear said, "Imagine fifty people in a room, and somebody shouts, 'Fire!' And there's one small door, and when everybody rushes to the door, everybody's not gonna get out. Some of them are gonna be burned. And you think of your ideas that way. It doesn't matter in what order those people get out; you sort them out afterward if you wish to. Just get 'em out. It's the same thing with your ideas. Good, bad, indifferent, they fit, they don't fit - you'll sort that out after they're out the door."