How to Succeed as a Female Writer in TV & Film

Whoa, talk about the time a’changin’. Looks like being a female writer in Hollywood is now in, hip, and trendy. Or at least ultra PC. Even the staid old media darling, Writer’s Digest, is getting into the act. Better late than never, we suppose:

Jessica Fletcher writing Murder She Wrote

by Dr. Rosanne Welch

You have to “Alertly Seize Your Opportunities”, learn the “Company Way”, insist to any still-cave-dwelling males who may come your way that a writer’s assistant “is not a toy” (nor is she – or he – meant to fetch your dry cleaning or work overtime for no pay while the producer reaps all the benefits of sending a well-formatted script to the network executives for approval). You should adjust to workdays being “Long Days” and learn “How to Handle a Disaster” (like actors throwing scripts in the trash or writers throwing things across the room). You should be comfortable with the idea that there still is a bit of a “Brotherhood of Man” atmosphere in writers rooms which are still 80/20 male/female. (Having grown up with brothers or a good set of guy friends – or having played high school sports helps.) But most of all you have to remember to “Believe in You” because no one else – not your agent, not your manager, not your producer, and sometimes not your family – will always be in your corner.

If you survived that paragraph and still want to be in the business, good. Such a reality check is necessary because dreams don’t come cheap – but they do come if you keep at your writing and keep making connections along the way. That said, writers take many paths to their careers. I’ve known ski instructors who passed spec scripts off to the wives of producers who eventually hired them. I’ve known limo drivers to producers who gained their trust traveling the 405 for a year and I’ve known writers who passed spec movie scripts to the boyfriends of former college roommates who happened to be directors. (I’m still waiting for the story of the female writer who gets to pass her script off to the former female college roommate who happens to be a director so we can skip this middle-girlfriend step.)

Before one applies one has to have prepared a portfolio of several solid, well-written, stand out spec scripts so that once their employer asks them what they do, they have something ready to share that will be too good not to produce. That entails writer courses that allow you to build up that portoflio. Some people ask if you need to go to college to be a writer – since Truman Capote didn’t. Nor did Maya Angelou. But I did and I advise aspiring writers to as well because a writer needs both writing classes and a well-rounded liberal arts education that allows them to contribute to the ever-flowing brainstorm sessions that fill a writers room when stories are being discussed….

Read it all at Writer’s Digest