@TheAnonymousPA there really is no way to get an inside track on a writer’s assistant position, is there? I scour sites all over the place, and the closest I ever came to finding one was the showrunners assistant gig you posted.
— Marty Lang (@marty_lang) April 22, 2018
Why It’s So Hard to Get a Writers’ Assistant Job
It’s supply and demand, as always. There’s only one writers’ assistant per show, and there are hundred, if not thousands, of applicants. This happens even when they don’t publicly post the job (which is usually the case). More often than not, the writers will just tell their current assistant to find a replacement, and word makes its way through the assistant grapevine.
It’s a form of gatekeeping; you have to be In The Know to even apply for one of these jobs.
Do You Really Want to be a Writers’ Assistant?
If you’re an aspiring writer, you might think, Yeah, duh.
But think about it. Seriously. Is your goal to be a writers’ assistant, or is it just a wrung on the ladder you perceive yourself to be climbing? Intern –> Set PA –> Office PA –> Writers’ PA –> Writers’ Assistant –> Script Coordinator –> Staff Writer –> Story Editor –> Producer –> Showrunner –> Minor Deity –> Footnote in the Next Edition of Story, by Robert McKee?
The thing is, there’s not just one ladder. There’s a whole series of ladders. And snakes, too.
Everyone takes a different route to the end. Some people have more setbacks than others; some people quit before they finish. But writers’ assistant isn’t the finish.
Don’t get fixated on becoming a writers’ assistant. A showrunner’s assistant is just as likely to get a writing assignment as the writers’ assistant. Maybe even more so, if you play your cards right.
I know writers who were never any kind of assistant; their producer put them in touch with an agent, or their script wound up on a manager’s desk through a friend of a friend. Personally, I think this is a terrible way to go, and working for a producer like this is its own special nightmare, but that’s a post for another day.
The main point is, you never know which ladder you’re going to climb (or which snake is going to eat you), so… don’t worry about it. Just keep writing, and the rest will come.
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