Screenwriting is a highly competitive field where some dedicate years to study, failed pitches, and missed opportunities before finally landing a job. Does that mean those who “got in the game late” and lack experience in screenwriting can’t break into the industry? Not necessarily, but it takes a lot of hard work and dedication.
Here’s how to become a screenwriter with no experience:
- Write every day.
- Take screenwriting classes.
- Perpetually break down and study movies.
- Enter into screenwriting contests.
- Relentlessly read other screenplays.
- Start networking and find representation.
- List and Sell your scripts online.
- Search online job postings for screenwriters.
- Remain Steadfast in your efforts.
If you’re considering screenwriting as a career and don’t know where to begin, this post is for you. Keep reading to learn essential tips for how to become a screenwriter without experience and get started on the path to a successful career.
1. Write Every Day
Screenwriters write a lot. And if you want to become a screenwriter, you need to get used to writing daily.
Perhaps you’re familiar with Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-hour rule. His theory states that a minimum of 10,000 hours must be devoted to studying, practicing, and applying any discipline for an individual to master it.
Indeed, screenplays are a particular craft to master, and it may take some time and a few attempts before you write a good one. If you’re not already in the habit of daily writing, start that routine today.
2. Take Screenwriting Classes
Not everyone needs screenwriting classes to be a screenwriter or filmmaker, as some of Hollywood’s biggest names haven’t had them. Still, taking courses can give you a leg-up, especially if you lack experience.
Stamping yourself with top-school credentials, such as UCLA or Columbia, can help you stand out from the crowd. Yet, they’re highly competitive and challenging to get into. However, most universities and major colleges have some type of liberal arts studies or film curriculum if they aren’t offered as majors.
If you’re unsure whether screenwriting classes are right for you, read this article discussing the worthiness of screenwriting classes.
3. Perpetually Break Down and Study Movies
This may already be something you do and why you’re considering becoming a screenwriter. If not, it’s a great way to learn how to write a screenplay. Watch as many films as possible, as many times as you want.
Study and analyze them, breaking them down to figure out what makes scenes great or not great, and then apply what you learn to your writing.
4. Enter Into Screenwriting Contests
It’s heavily debated whether screenwriting contests are a waste of time, and honestly, they can be for many writers. However, if you don’t have experience, entering beginner contests for reviewer feedback can help you improve screenplays and gain some general industry knowledge.
5. Relentlessly Read Other Screenplays
It sounds obvious, yet it’s a strategy often forgotten. Reading published screenplays by other writers is a great way to pick up new tricks and inspiration for script ideas. You might even consider joining or organizing a small writing group where you can meet with other aspiring screenwriters to review and critique each other’s screenplays. And on that note…
6. Start Networking and Find Representation
To get ahead, screenwriters rub elbows, smile, and chat it up to meet people with connections that can potentially further their careers.
Ideally, networking should be done “in real life,” as it’s more of a social game about helping others.
However, great online groups, such as Stage 32 Writers’ Room, are also available. This education and networking site offers aspiring screenwriters access to weekly webcasts and other screenwriting resources for a small monthly fee.
7. List and Sell Your Scripts Online
You have poorer chances of selling a script if you don’t make it available to buy. Places like InkTip are great for connecting with producers and listing and selling screenplays. The site boasts that producers have made over 400 movies to date through this service.
8. Search Online Job Postings for Screenwriters
Becoming a screenwriter doesn’t require living in Los Angeles or having connections. You can apply to plenty of screenwriting jobs and related positions posted online. Many even offer steady employment, not only one-time contracts.
Here are some websites that have screenwriting jobs posted for to consider:
9. Remain Steadfast In Your Efforts
As the saying goes, “If, at first, you don’t succeed, try and try again.”
Indeed, being successful in screenwriting requires perseverance, combined with a bit of dumb luck, which means you must continue toward your goal regardless of how long it takes or how much rejection you face. The odds are favorable that you’ll eventually land a job, though it can take decades before that happens.
Do You Have What It Takes To Be a Professional Screenwriter?
You may not want to be a professional screenwriter if you require the perks of “normal” professions, such as regular work hours or health benefits. If you really want to become a screenwriter, you probably have to be prepared to dedicate your life to your career.
Those in the industry can testify that screenwriting isn’t for everyone. However, for those dedicated and passionate enough, a career in screenwriting can be very rewarding.
Becoming a screenwriter with no experience isn’t impossible, though it takes a tremendous amount of work. And it’s probably unrealistic to think that you’ll have some unbelievable, once-in-a-lifetime lucky break and make it big on your first pitch. If you really want to pursue screenwriting, it helps to:
- Write all the time.
- Take classes and study your craft.
- Read, watch, and analyze other people’s work.
- Build a network of screenwriters and other industry professionals.
- Constantly pitch and list scripts for sale.
- Keep trying!
For more helpful tips, check out this post, “How to Become a Better Screenwriter.”