Here are some jobs that’ll keep you writing while you wait to break into the industry.
Don’t let an industry that often feels like it’s built on “gatekeeping” keep you from using those amazing writing and storytelling skills that you’ve developed over the years.
Whether you’re looking for ways to bring in income while pursuing your dream of screenwriting or considering a change of career, there are plenty of alternatives that will put those well-earned skills to use.
Let’s take a look at some of them!
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Entertainment Writing & Criticism
Share your love of screenwriting, pop culture, and storytelling by branching into a new form with entertainment writing and criticism. Many sites are looking for contributors to share their deep dives on everything from the latest reality show brawl to celebrating awards season favorites. You can cover film and television news as a journalist, using the contacts you’ve made in the industry, or write op-eds in major publications. If you’re interested in film reviewing, the position has become democratized in the internet age. And while some may be irked by the online battle between fans and reviewers, you can bring a new and possibly needed perspective to the role.
These roles also transition well into writing books on pop culture and entertainment’s influence or hosting an online series or podcast.
The more self-publishing opportunities there are, the more typos there are that reveal how needed editors are. You could help authors rewrite their books, copyedit for sales and marketing companies, help with blogs, online articles, and even work your way up to working for a publication where you oversee a team. The job can be incredibly flexible if you do it as a freelancer, with the average entry-level editor working for a solid rate of $20 an early.
If you’re someone who loves wordplay and telling a story in as few words as possible, there’s a chance you’d be a strong copywriter. This is a vast field within sales and marketing. Some focus on slogans or the few words in a print ad, whereas others specialize in email sales that fill our inboxes in weekly newsletters or every time a product launches. If you’re interested in copywriting, the best thing you can do is analyze as many examples as possible and try to create your own as practice. These positions average $25 for those just starting out.
Consulting & Script Reading
If “those that can’t do, teach,” then those that can do are even better teachers. Script consulting, proofreading, and script reading are great jobs available to aspiring and working screenwriters. These roles are for those passionate about the craft and want to help others improve their craft and get inspired. The best part is that you can do it independently or within a larger company. Script reading is an oft-needed role for screenwriting competitions, and a role fought for at studios and agencies. Studio reading positions are particularly difficult to land as they usually require you to join a union. The easiest way to nab a reading position for competitions or production companies is to prove yourself through an internship or as an assistant, and then use that experience on your resume to vie for a spot as a reader.
For those looking to consult or read as a freelancer, you’ll need to master the art of self-promotion and work your networks to build that client base. It takes time, but it can be the most rewarding as you work your way up to set your own hours and rate, not having to split your fee with a company you work within.
If you love dialogue, why not be a speechwriter? This option is great for storytellers, who love crafting dialogue, and are passionate, world-minded individuals who want to use their talents to give back. With so much going on in the world, you could have a positive influence and help shape conversations directly through your words, seeing an impact that could have bigger impacts than box office dollars might.
Many writers make the switch to producing. The development process is essential to both writers and producers, making writers able to find the next great material. They also know how to work with up-and-coming writers and discover the big talent and material. Just as you need help to get ahead in your career, so does everyone else. So a great option is to work with other creatives for the same goal, potentially establishing yourself as a go-to for great projects throughout the industry.
Many people who enter the industry to become writers fall into representation instead. Like those who set aside writing to produce, those who work in representation have to have a great eye for material and know how to work with writers to improve their scripts. Managers are also able to produce, so you can have a bigger role in the development process in the long run, and many writers’ reps go on to become the lead producer at newly-formed production companies. If you love working with writers and building them up even more than you do seeing one project through to the end, as you’ll ultimately see way more projects through this path, representation can be a great alternative that still puts your writing skills to use.
Clearly, we live in a world filled with storytellers, even if they’re not living off a screenwriting or novelist salary. Consider what drew you to screenwriting and where you could use those skills to create a new income source in the short or long term.