I had a recent run-in with a jaded writer. I've had many, actually, and trust me – I get why you're jaded. Writing as a career is not an easy path to take, and you'll be beaten up time and time again, probably more than most people who choose other jobs in life. You've got to build a thick skin, call out the people selling quick fixes and miracle potions, and be honest with yourself about the sacrifices you're going to have to make for success. But this interaction reminded me to never judge a book by its cover and always aim to be constructive in my discussions with other writers.
You know the quote ...
This recent interaction was a perfect example of why you should never assume that someone has it easier than you. "Oh, they were just lucky," or "Oh, well they were born with a silver spoon in their mouth," or "but they had connections," etc. The list goes on and on of why writers tell themselves that someone else can have success, but they can't. I don't want to oversimplify, but work hard enough, and you can have the same success. The "highlight reel" that you see online is never the whole story.
That said, always lead with kindness. What's the point of being resentful toward other writers who are fighting the same battle as you? They're on your side, and it doesn't make anyone feel better.
This particular discussion centered on an interview with script coordinator Marc Gaffen. He was talking about getting representation as a writer, and he skipped ahead to the part where the writer has already made some connections in Hollywood and found some work, and they're now looking for an agent or manager.
Now, this doesn't mean you can skip ahead, and neither did Marc. His ladder climb to get the job he has now took more than a decade, tons of hard work and sleepless nights, and of course, a bit of luck. He's been working at becoming a writer since at least 2002, and he didn't land his first writing credit until 12 years after that in 2014. He moved to Los Angeles right out of college without knowing anyone and faxed his resume to more than 100 places. He only received one response from "The Bernie Mac Show," so that's where he started as a camera assistant. He is still not writing full-time nearly two decades later. Instead, he builds his resume and connections through script coordination while continuing his writing pursuits as a graphic novelist. You can take a look at the path he's taken on his IMDb page. While it may look like he's sitting pretty in an industry gig, the reality of what it took to get there looks much different.
Getting a writing job is not an easy task, and Hollywood is all about connections. Marc mentions this in some of his other interviews and talks about how he made connections in Hollywood early in his career when we didn't have the technology we have now. It's amazing how everyone's journey to break into the industry is so different. Anyway, I hope you'll check out his playlist on our YouTube channel to hear more about how he worked up to where he is today!
Marc's video interview on hip-pocket representation talks about how he actually is not fully repped to this day unless he finds his own work in which an agent could earn money off of him. We offer up several posts on the topic of representation (and as you'll see, no two journeys are the same!) for various experience levels.
On the topic of screenwriting agents, we have tons of additional content on our website.
- Screenwriting Agents: What They're For and How to Get One
This post suggests going the networking, festivals, fellowships, and referral route.
- How to Find an Agent Using IMDb Pro
In this post, screenwriter Ashlee Stormo discusses her strategy of using IMDb Pro to find agents that represent work similar to her own.
- How to Find a Literary Agent
This post discusses what agents are looking for in writers they'll represent.
- Screenwriting Internships
We also keep an Internship Opportunities page updated constantly with industry-related positions, many of which are remote and part-time, so you can continue working wherever you live.
This is all to say that no one is saying screenwriting is easy. If any of our content ever implies that, it's probably because it's step two, three, or nine on your journey. The only thing consistent among the screenwriter stories we've heard is that none of these people were handed anything. And you know what? That's made the success that much sweeter.