Lately in one of my TV writers groups there has been a few emails flying around about sending out “older” spec shows. Not to slam anyone on there, or anywhere out there in the TV writing world, but I honestly don’t understand why anyone would want to send out an “old” script.
The rule of thumb is to be current. Write current material and toss out your old spec of Pushing Daisies or whatever show you have that is now off the air. I don’t think any of these “rules” are too fast and hard, but why go against the grain?
I have taken a few TV writing courses, and workshops and they all say to have a NEW spec, or a CURRENT spec from a current show, and if it is has been taken off the air, your time to show it goes to even less.
If you are writing sitcoms, you need to have more than one and have a new one every 6 months-yes there are exceptions, but that seems to be the most popular opinion of the showrunners and agents out there staffing people.
For drama you have about a year, unless your storyline is completely different than what is going on. For example writing a Grey’s Anatomy where George, Izzy and Dr. Burke are the main storyline probably won’t work.
So this brings me onto my next point.
If you want to work in TV, why is is that you don’t want to WRITE?
Why do so many wannabe TV writers NOT want to write a new spec? It is actually hard for me to wrap my brain around that concept. You are a writer, so write!
I love to write new shows, and research them, it makes me feel energized and as well then I have more to show.
If you have one spec, even if it is great, you will at some point be in a meeting where they ask you “what else do you have?” and if you don’t have other scripts, you might as well be walking out of there. As well, you need a strong original pilot.
I am not saying that I am right and these other people hanging onto specs they wrote last year are wrong. I am just sharing what I have heard over and over and over.
AND, if you want to write for television, you have to know it is the fastest paced writing gig you will get. You have to always be working on new storylines, so for me, it is just good practice to do an awesome script, then do another one and so forth. I am not saying to whip out a bunch of junk, but don’t fall so in love with your spec that you don’t do anything else.
Okay, so if you aren’t really upset with me already because I am basically telling you to write something new and you want to keep reading, I will share something that happened to me. I had a strong spec of a current drama on ABC, I met with a lot of people. It got me attention, so I got cocky and thought I didn’t have to write another one. Then I actually lost a job later that year because I was called into a meeting and when I was asked “what new material do you have?” I didn’t have any. I had my own spec pilot, but they didn’t want to see it, they wanted to know what other specs I had written.
A month or so ago I mentioned that I have gone back to comedy writing to pretty much everyone I know, including agents, execs, showrunners and other wirters I am friends with. Last week I sent my “Christine” to a development exec that I know and he said, “Well that show isn’t really one that I watch, what other shows do you have?” I am working on two other specs-but I had to tell him to wait-and he did think my spec was funny, but he doesn’t watch the show, so he wanted more.
I am just suggesting to people to be prepared and you also want to be armed with current material. I have also on the rarer occasion been asked to send my older specs, I still have them, but they aren’t what I am leading with.
This is free advice, take it or leave it and I believe that there are exceptions to every rule, but I also like to share information that I collect.
Happy writing!! Have a super day and enjoy what you are doing-your spec is your calling card this season. :0)