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How to break into TV writing in 2024

Updated: Feb 21

2024 is going to be a very interesting year for the entertainment industry and for TV writing specifically.

Breaking into TV writing

We are now living in a post-strike world where TV writers now hold some protections over the onslaught of AI.

The TV writers' room is now a protected entity with a minimum number of writers required at every stage in the writing and production process.

This is also an interesting time when it comes to streaming. We watched the ferocious streaming wars happen and we saw content budgets soar as the newfound streamers raced for more and more content and more and more of the market share.

We watched this bubble burst as these publicly traded companies didn't see a profit from their monumental spending and were left with less than happy investors.

So, now it's 2024... the landscape has changed. The rules are different.

For TV writers in the industry, many have been able to adapt to this different environment. After all, when you and all your colleagues are forced to change, it makes it easy to do the same.

But for up-and-coming TV writers, this means that everything you've read about breaking into TV writing is different.

In this post, I want to talk about the changes that have happened, what's stayed the same, and what that means for those looking to make their mark on the TV writing industry.

TV writing assistant jobs are no longer "career ladders"

This creeping truth has become the case over the past decade. TV writing assistant jobs, like writers' PA, writers' assistant, and script coordinator jobs no longer provide the career trajectory they once did.

Back in the day, you used to be able to start a job as a PA and rise up over the many episodes of each season, and the many seasons of each series.

Imagine getting a PA job on Friends. You had 22-24 episodes to befriend everyone and make it known that your'e a hard worker.

Then, depending on when you started, you could have had 10 seasons to ingratiate yourself and rise up to a writers' assistant position, then a script coordinator position, then a staff writer position, and so on.

In fact, this happened on this very show. A PA became the showrunner.

This no longer happens.

TV shows last for 6-8 episodes. And they often only last for 2-3 seasons. There is much more content, but that content is diversified. So, these days, it's like getting a job at a start-up.

Sure, there's the potential that this will be the unicorn and will last for ten years and you'll be able to rise up in a corporate ladder style trajectory and make a career for yourself.

But in all likelihood, you'll get one season, maybe two, and you'll have to repeat whatever position you had at the next show you find a job on.

But I am not saying "don't take assistant jobs!"

Assistant jobs are still great places to network and start building up your contacts within entertainment.

People get jobs in this industry through networking, not through job postings.

Therefore, use these assistant jobs for what they're good for - networking with people. And don't expect to climb a ladder that will usher you into a TV writing job.

2024 is off to a slow start

After the strike ended in 2023, many TV writers thought we'd be getting right back to work.

But with so much change going on behind the scenes at the studios, networks, and streamers, it was really unclear what the mandates were going to be and what sort of programming everyone was going to pursue.

So, the industry waited until the new year.

Now that we're in the new year, it's still slow as everyone picks up the pieces and slowly rolls out their mandates and figures out what shows they're going to put on.

Therefore, right now is a weird time to be looking for work as things slowly come back to normal.

Have you noticed there's a lot of crap on streamers right now?

We're in the dearth caused by the strikes right now and stopping a behemoth like the TV industry requires a long, slow start to get up and fully running once again.

Your location is less important than ever for breaking into TV writing... until you want to get serious

Things changed after the pandemic. TV writing went online for the first time. Writers' rooms became Zoom Rooms.

Suddenly, writers didn't need to be in LA to work on a show. This is still the case for some rooms.

BUT many rooms are now adopting a hybrid model. So, a few days a week they're in the office and a few days a week, they're online.

So, that means it's possible to pursue a career in TV writing from outside of LA, right? Sort of.

You can certainly work on your writing from anywhere in the world. There are tons of great resources online.

And you can connect with various communities and create writing groups by meeting people on Reddit or on social media.

But the connections that you really want to make are in Los Angeles. That remains the case.

And anybody who found a job writing in a Zoom Room while not in LA likely had made some serious inroads in Los Angeles or New York prior to the pandemic.

So, there are certainly some steps you can take outside of LA, but the networking possibilities are still the greatest in LA.

There is so much content so your TV writing "voice" matters more than ever

Once again, things used to be easier. A decent spec script could get you in the right door. A spec script is an episode written of a TV show that's already on the air.

That means your writing sample would be an episode that you wrote of Dave or The Good Doctor. But this is no longer the case.

Agents, managers, showrunners, and execs want to see original TV pilots from you. And they want your "voice" to stand out in that pilot.

That means something about you needs to come through in the writing. That's not to say that the script has to be about you at all.

But something about your writing, or your dialogue, or your story has to have clearly come from you. In other words, make sure your script is something that only you could have written.

TV writing is a difficult industry, and it's more difficult now than ever before. But with patience, and an adaptive mentality, you too can make it through.

Image Source: Clementp1986, Fabebk,


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I'm Anton, a TV writer and author of Breaking Into TV Writing, a book about the business of TV writing and how to get your foot in the door.


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