Welcome back to The Write Stuff, where I've been attempting to answer a question that dates back to the beginning of time:
How do writers get jobs on TV writing staffs? Do they have to write spec scripts?
For Part One of this answer, please refer to last week's Write Stuff, where we talked about putting together a portfolio of writing samples. Once you have a good mix of spec scripts and original material, that's the time to start the process of getting an agent. I've covered agent hunting in this column before, so I won't get too deeply into the specifics, but the key is not to give up. If you think you've got talent, stick to your guns. The people who make it in this business are the ones who face countless rejections, but don't throw in the towel. Just the fact that you have completed scripts will make you more enticing to agencies. So many people in Los Angeles walk around telling everyone "I'm a writer, I'm hilarious, look at me, love me!" but they've never finished a script! So many people! People out here think they're so wonderful and talented that big cheeses should be begging for their services. That attitude will get you into trouble. Perfect your material before you even consider heading out. You want to be rich and famous immediately, you're excited, but don't start selling yourself until you've got the genuine goods to sell.
When you do have your portfolio together and land that agent, the agent will send your material to network executives and development people. If these execs like your stuff, they will call you in for a general staffing meeting. These meetings are to make sure that they like you as a person, and that you would fit in on the writing staff of one of the network's programs. If an executive digs your writing and likes you as a human being, he or she may send your material to a show runner. The show runner reads your stuff, and if he or she likes the material, he or she will call you in for a...show runner meeting. These are very exciting, because they're generally the last step before you find out if you landed on a show or if it's back to turning tricks on Santa Monica Boulevard.
Must...block out...painful memories...