A Day in the Life

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!

4 thoughts on “A Day in the Life”

  1. Hi Lee.
    I was just wondering if your speculative work is intended for the main networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, etc) or cable networks (FX, Lifetime, etc).

  2. All of the above — though the TV movie pitch is aimed at one particular cable network to address a specific need that they have.
    Next month, the broadcast networks open their doors for pilot pitches again and we want to be there with some strong ideas.

  3. I’m only a grade eight student attenting a little northern-community school, but someday I hope to be much more than that. We’re studying career explortation.. I found out the rate of writers that actually make it in my canadian region. I was somewhat apolled.. and I was wondering, what did it take you to make it?


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