As is the case with any artistic endeavor, there are stories of people just being absolutely gifted at screenwriting who have made a raw story that got picked up and made them rich.
But these stories are few and far between, even more than with other jobs revolving around television and film.
For most screenwriters, boxes have to be checked, dues have to be paid, and failures have to be part of the growing process.
If you are an aspiring screenwriter who wants to get a step ahead of your competition, there are several ways to do so, most revolving around understanding the surrounding and accepting the difficulty of the job.
Here are a couple of ways to navigate Hollywood and become a paid screenwriter:
Whether your ultimate goal is to be a solo screenwriter who makes one masterpiece every five years from the depths of your mountaintop cabin or not, you will need to know a few people before becoming a recluse, and you’ll need to know how to work with people, as well.
Subscribing to trade publications is a good idea for staying in-the-know regarding networking opportunities and meet-up writer’s rooms allow for creative and professional growth.
As does the ability to discuss tribulations and stress management with individuals experiencing the same issues as you.
Networking is an important component of making it in the entertainment industry.
This also means you should move somewhere with a legitimate film or television industry, such as New York or Los Angeles, and you should also get a job in the industry even if it’s taking out the trash at a local theater.
Everything is a step, and it’s a long staircase in the entertainment business.
Write Every Day
If you want screenwriting to be your paid job, it pretty much has to start out as an unpaid job. In the corporate office world, aspiring employees serve as unpaid interns.
In the screenwriting world. you should be working on your own craft every single day even if no one with a wallet (or no one at all, for that matter) is going to read your work.
You should always be working on the first draft of something, even after you find your success.
There are recommended steps on how to write a screenplay well, but especially when it is not paid, finding a comfortable means of getting pen to paper every day will have you building a thick portfolio without you realizing it.
The more you write, the more your confidence and portfolio will grow, and at one point, most likely you’ll have the confidence and connections needed to try to sell your work.
Before doing so, you should invest in peer and editorial reviews to ensure your screenplays are as close to professional as they can be, even if you are still looking for that first break so you can consider yourself a legitimate pro.
When your work is polished, navigate the internet for places to submit your work, and don’t be afraid to think outside of the box, either.
If you’ve made some connections via networking to some people who work for CBS, talk to them about what you have created.
Again, the more professional it looks, the more likely that you will get taken seriously and be shown a proverbial door to the next chapter in your screenwriting career.
As mentioned at the beginning, there is no A to B to C path for successful screenwriters.
The more content the merrier, and even if you feel like you’re striking out at every turn, keep writing and keep finding new ways to meet the right people.
The internet certainly has its perks, but face-to-face communication helps you get remembered, and people who are remembered get the phone calls when writers are gathering for their next big pitch.