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Beyond Hobby Writing: The Journey of the Professional Screenwriter

Guest Blog by Screenwriting Staffing member, Charlie Ricottone. If you enjoy this article, be sure to sign up for our Free Membership!

The Layers of Screenwriting Success

The world of screenwriting offers a dynamic spectrum of success. While the spotlight often shines brightest on a handful of top-tier writers, it's crucial to recognize the vast array of professionals working behind the scenes across the industry. Think of the WGA strike videos, which predominantly showcase writers from Los Angeles, as merely the tip of the iceberg.

For the multitude of aspiring screenwriters out there, the path ahead is both exhilarating and riddled with ambiguity. Questions often arise:

What's my version of 'making it'?

How long should I keep pushing before considering another path?

Do I have the talent and resilience required for this field?

This article might not hold all the answers, but it strives to provide insights and reflections to guide the way.

Busting the One-Good-Script Myth

A pervasive belief in the screenwriting community is that "one good script handed to the right person" can be the golden ticket to success. However, reality often paints a different picture. While some are disheartened by the challenges, true believers in their craft dig deep, refining their skills and stories with persistence. Yes, screenwriting has evolved, with technology simplifying many aspects of the format. Still, the core essence – the art of storytelling – remains timeless and demanding. Though the dream is that one outstanding script might propel you to stardom, the journey typically demands years of dedication and multiple scripts to sculpt that magnum opus.

Defining Your Version of Success

Before diving deep into the craft, it's essential to introspect and define what success looks like for you in the realm of screenwriting.

Is it about clinching those coveted contest wins?

Or perhaps it's about establishing a reputation that brings in regular paid writing assignments?

These are foundational questions that can shape your trajectory in the industry.

Contests: Participating in screenwriting contests can provide a clear benchmark of how your work stacks up against your contemporaries. The most prestigious competitions not only offer invaluable critiques but also opportunities for significant exposure and networking. If competitions align with your goals, immerse yourself in studying past winners, grasp the criteria that judges prioritize, and relentlessly polish your craft to stand out.

Selling Spec Scripts: For many, the dream revolves around selling their original scripts. Though the internet teems with advice on this front, the ground reality is that breaking through as an unknown can be a Herculean task. Yet, equipped with a phenomenal script, an enticing query letter, and a pitch that leaves a lasting impression, you can edge closer to realizing that dream. Platforms like Screenwriting Staffing serve as valuable bridges, connecting writers with professionals seeking specific scripts.

Being a Consistent Working Screenwriter:

While many writers fixate on the allure of selling scripts, an equally rewarding and arguably more stable pursuit is that of becoming a working screenwriter. These professionals get consistently hired for various projects, from ideation and treatments to rewriting and finalizing scripts. To thrive in this space, you must not only be adept at your craft but also cultivate professional attributes like punctuality, adaptability, and effective communication. Your reputation becomes your most valuable asset.

Setting Goals and Embracing the Journey

As with any career, establishing clear goals can illuminate your path in screenwriting. Whether it's milestones you aim to achieve five or ten years down the line, having a roadmap can provide direction and motivation. Heed the words of Martin Scorsese, who emphasized that in the world of film, patience often trumps sheer talent.

Self-Evaluation and Growth

If doubts about being "good enough" plague you, remember that much of screenwriting can be learned and refined. But what does "good" mean? It's subjective and varies based on the niche you aim for. Instead of dwelling on nebulous doubts, channel your energy into introspection. Recognize your strengths, identify areas of improvement, and chart out a growth plan. Embrace feedback, evolve with every script, and ensure you effectively market your unique voice and vision.

In Summary

Screenwriting is a realm that demands unwavering commitment, relentless effort, and an undying passion for storytelling. But for those willing to embrace its challenges, the journey can be richly rewarding and profoundly fulfilling. Dive in with both seriousness and a zest for the stories you wish to tell. Also, be sure to read some of Screenwriting Staffing's testimonials!


Screenwriting Staffing is an online staffing service for screenwriters. Find new opportunities here!

Author: As a full-time writer, Charlie Ricottone is dedicated to the profession of writing. Whether is technical copy, creative prose, or his real passion - screenwriting - Charlie continues to learn the craft and develop a unique voice for his stories. Having taken a liking to the thriller genre, Charlie loves to create stories that explore characters facing emotional, psychological, and physical trauma, and how they overcome these hurdles in their lives. Learn more about Charlie HERE!


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