For many screenwriters, the focal point of the screenwriting year is competition season. When is that? Most competitions have deadlines right around May 1st or June 1st and it just preceding and during this time that there is a flurry of work to get those scripts turned in for a shot at winning cash, prizes and hopefully, a career boost.
In general, the rhythm of Hollywood is that “spec season,” – i.e., when agents and managers prefer to go out with scripts – is generally between January and August each year. Many production companies start their fiscals year in November so they have fresh funds to spend on your script. But of course November and December are also jam-packed with holidays so it’s not a great time to be querying.
That opens the door to January. Right now.
And right is also an ideal time to review your writing season.
First of all, take some time to review and calendar some of the screenwriting events in the JFEME Hollywood Calendar.
The writer’s season is the longest season of all because you just can’t stop. Even during the holidays, when Hollywood virtually shuts down for a couple of months, you should take advantage and be working on your material for the new year. In the fall, after the spec season is over – next year is already queuing up and clicking forward. See what I mean? Hollywood may have down time but you do not. Not if you are smart.
Ideally, you should be writing at least two scripts a year. Now, I know – that’s not always possible. Some writers write faster than others. Many of us have day jobs and all of us have busy lives filled with family obligations and the various vicissitudes of life. But it’s ultimately about how badly you want to have a career as a writer. The more you want it, the more you better be writing. Because trust me, your competition is writing more and better than you. Don’t believe me? Okay.
Set goals for yourself. Do not allow yourself to dwell on one script for too long: Don’t do rewrite after rewrite that spills into different seasons. Write two to three brand new scripts per year, enter them into competitions, get feedback, rewrite them to the best of your ability and query with them. If nothing happens with those scripts whatsoever, you’re already working on more. If your script gets no action, take it out of the ring and make room for new material.
And you should always be generating ideas. Keep a file folder of your crazy ideas – one of those crazy ideas might just click with something else and become the great script you are going to write next year.
You are the general commanding your troops for battle. There are soldiers on the front lines lobbing out queries and making forays into events and opportunities, but if you don’t have enough munitions, (scripts) you’re never gonna win the war. You’re going to run out of ammo and pretty soon there won’t be anything new and fresh to query, pitch or otherwise lob into the fray. You must always be generating new material. And the good news is that every script you start is a fresh chance to nail it this time and have the stars align for you. Every event you go to could introduce you to a person who might change your trajectory in large or small ways. Again, trust me on this – if you are not doing this, attacking on all fronts – someone else IS.
The writer’s season is evergreen, not deciduous. You should always be writing and when you’re not writing you should be generating ideas and simultaneous to all of that you should be gearing up for querying or a competition or an event. Hollywood has a rhythm and a season, sort of like school being in session for eight months of the year. Writers go to school year-round.
If you are interested in establishing REAL goals this year, a disciplined routine with accountability, you should invest in yourself NOW and get on board with a personal writing coach, like me.