Like many screenwriters, you'll find yourself needing to figure out how to support yourself while you're waiting for the big break that will allow you to write to make ends meet exclusively. It's helpful to find a job within the industry or that utilizes or enhances your skills as a storyteller. Here are some ways to make money while you pursue your screenwriting career.
A Normal 9 to 5
You can support yourself with any job while you're working on launching your screenwriting career, as long as it leaves you with both time and brain capacity to write before or afterward! Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino worked at a video store, acclaimed screenwriter Scott Frank was a bartender, and renowned screenwriter Aaron Sorkin was a house sitter!
I know a few writers who have done work as readers for competitions or screenwriting websites that offer feedback. One of the best ways to improve your screenwriting is to read screenplays, so this is an awesome job for the burgeoning screenwriter. Exposing yourself to other scripts and understanding what competitions and industry people are looking for is bound to be incredibly helpful to better your understanding of your own work.
This is something I've done in the past and would gladly do again! Working as a freelance teacher allows you to connect with people in your area and pass on your skills. I majored in screenwriting and video production in college, so the classes I've taught have focused on storytelling and basic production skills. You can find teaching gigs through working with schools, local theatre companies, or even local bookstores that host writing events. Teaching can be a great way to earn money. It keeps your skills sharp, and I find that it's beneficial to one's work to be constantly exposed to other's creativity.
I do this one, too! Writing blogs for SoCreate has been a fantastic experience. I find blogging on screenwriting is a lot like teaching in that it reinforces things I know. It also requires me to research and learn new things, which has helped to improve my writing.
Writing for SoCreate is a pretty unique opportunity since it allows me to write about screenwriting specifically. Still, any writing job can help you to grow and allow you to use your writing skills. Whether it's for a website, articles, or essays, writing can be a great way to make money while pursuing screenwriting.
Like being a script reader, you'll spend a lot of time reading, but being an agent's assistant puts you in the unique position to build a relationship with the agent. You'll gain a greater understanding of the industry's business side and learn how to translate your thoughts and ideas into language agents and producers can understand.
A Studio Job
If you're local to LA or any other screenwriting hubs around the world, getting any job in a studio can be a valuable experience. From security to mailroom clerk, any studio position can offer you valuable access and networking opportunities and allow you to watch (even if at a distance) how everything works.
These are just some ideas for jobs writers can have while pursuing screenwriting. Like I said at the top, any way you can make money that allows you to still focus on your writing is a good job! You can even look towards other ways to make money, such as learning about investing, making conscious decisions to enter screenwriting competitions with cash prizes, earning money off of short films, or looking to enter into fellowships with career paths at the end of the program! Your career is what you make it, and how you support yourself until your big break is up to you. Good luck and happy writing!