It is that time of year when writers from all over the country apply to the studio and network writing programs. I am the Writing Instructor for Writers on the Verge at NBC and have been for the last eight years. I am also a former 12-year studio executive. I've seen what it takes to get into these programs. I help to groom writers in this direction with my writers' consultancy, Jen Grisanti Consultancy Inc. I've had writers get into every program. It all comes down to how you sell and tell your story.
I wanted to share 5 tips with writers to think about while submitting to these programs.
1. Submit your script on time.
2. Review your script with professionals
3. Understand your voice in your script as well as your meetings.
4. Have anecdotes that give us a glimpse into your worldview and show us what sets you apart.
5. Trust and Believe.
Submit Your Scripts On Time - I've had countless writers send me emails at the time of the submission deadline saying that they can't submit due to technical problems. Do not wait until the last minute of the deadline. I recommend submitting at least a day or two before the deadline. You don't want to put all of your time and energy into the possibility and then have it go away because you didn't get it in on time. When you are a working writer, being on time in the room and with your deadlines is everything. So, start with being on time with your submission.
Review Your Script With Professionals - I highly recommend that you have professionals review your script/scripts. This could be in the form of a script consultant. Or, you may have a friend who is an executive at the studio, a manager or an agent. Or you may know an assistant to an agent/manager/executive or showrunner that reads scripts for a living. If so, have them take a look. A writers group is also a great place to have your script reviewed. Going to a copywriter is also a great thing to do if you struggle with grammar/spelling. Put your best foot forward.
Understand Your Voice In Your Script As Well As your Meetings - What are you trying to say with the stories in your script? Be prepared to talk about this. How do you describe your voice? Do you utilize your voice in all the stories you tell? Know how to sell and tell your story. Think about how you can use your voice in meetings. If you do make it to the round where you get a call or a meeting, be prepared. Go in with intention. What are three things that you want them to know about you? What are three things that you want to know about them and/or the program? With meetings, recognize that we want it to work as much as you do it. If you're being singled out for a meeting, it is because they responded to your material. Own this. Be confident. Recognize your worth. Sell Your Passion.
Have Anecdotes That Give Us A Glimpse Into Your Worldview and Show Us What Sets You Apart - Mine your stories from within. What has happened in your life that makes you want to write? What are your wounds? What makes you feel isolated? What are your pivotal life moments that turned your world upside down and gave you something to say? What are some of the interesting things that have happened that contribute to who you are now and what message you have to deliver? Think about the trigger incidents and dilemmas that have happened in your life. What road did you take? What are some of the universal moments that you've gone through? These don't have to be huge. Think of the smaller moments that we all connect with.
Trust and Believe - If you are meant to get into the writing programs, you will. If this is not your destiny this time around, apply again next year. Know that this is not the only way to become a working writer. It all comes down to your work. There are many writers that I staffed when I was a studio executive that did not come through the programs. It all comes down to the strength of your story and how you tell it and sell it on the page and in the room. Trust in your voice. Believe in your gift. Try not to take actions that get in your own way. Meditate. Visualize. How does it feel? What emotions come up? See yourself attaining everything that you want as a writer. Trust and believe in this outcome.
When you understand how to tell and sell your story on the page and in the room, things will open up. Writing is a journey. Success does not happen overnight. There is a tremendous amount of work that goes into the moment when it all connects. Don't be afraid to do the work. Recognize what actions to take that will lead you to your desired outcome. Let your passion guide you. Recognize that the door has opened for others and it can open for you. You have to develop and have the confidence to walk through it.