Notes from a Small-Time Professional Screenwriter [#1]

When most people dream about becoming professional screenwriters, they dream about the “big time” – selling a script for a million dollars or getting staffed on a TV show, and going on to a lucrative career laden with Oscars and/or Emmys.

In reality, the vast majority of wannabe screenwriters never make a dime from screenwriting.

So are those the only two options?  Massive success or miserable failure?

No, actually.

You can also become a small-time professional screenwriter.

Making Money

I’m definitely small-time:  I’ve never sold a script, and you’ve never seen my name in the credits.

But for more than 10 years, I’ve been making money from screenwriting — with repeat business from happy clients.

It’s not enough that I can afford to quit my day job as a lawyer, but it’s a good enough side hustle that I’m no longer eligible for the Nicholl screenwriting competition, and it pays for trips to places like Sundance and the Austin Film Festival.

Most importantly, I’m getting paid to do what I love most – and I can do it from anywhere in the world.

Of course, I’d love to be a BIG-time professional screenwriter, but that’s really hard, as I discuss here.

Does the world really need another screenwriting blog?

Probably not, but I feel like writing one anyway.

There are hundreds of screenwriting blogs, and more than 3,000 screenwriting books on Amazon.com, and I’ve read a fair number of them. A lot of them are good, and I recommend them. But many do have some issues:

They offer to sell you the “secret” of screenwriting success.

This is bullshit.

There is no “secret,” and very few people become good screenwriters – let alone successful ones — no matter how many books they buy.

There’s also no “one size fits all” screenwriting method that works for everyone.

They’re vague about the business end of screenwriting, and even make inane statements like “If your work is truly great, buyers will come to YOU!”

This is also bullshit. There is no screenwriting fairy who will find your amazing script on your hard drive and slip it to Steven Spielberg. To make either small-time or big-time money as a screenwriter, you need to be out there hustling.

This is a work in progress. If you find it useful (or not), please let me know.