I’m Not Aspiring
The hardest part about pursuing a television career is the feeling of helplessness. No matter how good you get at writing, there’s no real way to prove yourself until somebody gives you a break. Even the most junior writing jobs are insanely coveted, the first interview question is always “what other shows have you written for?” Combine this with the fact that the supply of wannabe writers is exponentially higher than the demand, and you get a situation that can weigh on your psyche.
I’m certainly not complaining. I’m just saying that every career starts with waiting for someone to place an enormous amount of confidence in you before you have a single credit. It’s something I used to talk about a lot on Daily Fuel. (After all, I’m probably the only person in history whose adolescent angst manifested itself in a bi-weekly professional development column.)
But that’s why I’ve always hated introducing myself as an “aspiring TV writer.” It’s a very accurate description, but that adjective conveys a sense of just…waiting. An aspiring CEO is working as a junior executive. An aspiring football coach is a defensive coordinator. But an aspiring TV writer is just a guy who likes to write and hopes that someone, someday will give him a really cool job.
It’s not a topic I lose sleep over, I just don’t like the phrase. It sounds like I’m just waiting for a miracle, not doing the work. But that’s not necessarily true. There’s a multitude of flaws I could be rightfully accused of having, but “not putting in the hours” is not one of them.
I write scripts. Lots and lots of scripts. But I’ve gradually started to write other things too. In addition to these blogs, I reviewed films for my school paper, and I’ve written about the film industry for some major publications. I’d like to keep working in journalism as I wait for that first break, and I recently started writing my first novel as well.
In the midst of all these projects, something hit me. I’m not an aspiring TV writer. I’m a writer who’s interested in eventually transitioning to TV.
This seemingly-simple realization altered my entire vision for the next decade of my life. I’m not just waiting for someone to give me a TV job out of the blue. I already write. I’ve already been published. My job is to demonstrate as much value as I can in other mediums, to make a name for myself as a writer, then pivot to TV once I’ve done that.
It’s hard to overstate how much my outlook improved once I decided to start calling myself a “writer” instead of an “aspiring TV writer.” But I suppose it makes sense. I’ve devoted my life to the idea that words matter, and that arranging them in certain ways is better than arranging them in other ways. The word “aspiring” was robbing me of control over my destiny. It made me no different than any other guy in a coffee shop who starts scripts but never finishes them. When I call myself a writer, I have ownership of my failures and my successes. It’s not up to the universe, it’s up to me. And that’s exactly how I like it.
Student, blogger, writer