Yesterday was a typical day for me…when I’m not writing/producing a TV series.
While dealing with the business of writing (exchanging emails with my editors & agents, watching a pilot for an upcoming staff job interview, arranging a book signing for August, etc.) I worked on writing several things all at once — one for pay (P), the rest speculative (S).
1) My second MONK novel (P)
2) A series pilot treatment for a producer/studio to pitch to the networks (S)
3) A TV movie treatment for a production company tailored for one particular network (S)
4) A series pilot treatment that Bill and I are going to pitch to the networks (S)
At the end of the day, when I emailed yet another revision of the pitch/treatment to the production company, I realized that three quarters of my day was spent on speculative work. Then I started thinking about just how much of my time and creative energy goes into writing punchy pitches & treatments that never go anywhere. I would guess that Bill and I, together and individually, have probably written hundreds of pitches & treatments over the last 2o years, and out of all of them, maybe two dozen have led to non-paying options and a little more than half that number have led to actual paychecks for writing the script (and/or producing the project).
That’s a hell of a lot of spec work…most of which led to absolutely nothing.
On the other hand, I’m sure every other screenwriter/TV writer/freelance writer probably has roughly the same experience. A good portion of a professional writer’s time is spent managing the work you’re doing now, promoting the work you’ve already done, and hustling for the work you’re going to need tomorrow.
And most important of all, somewhere in the midst of all that, you also have to write. Speaking of which, what am I doing blogging? I’ve got work to do!