Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

Keep Your Eye on Your Long Term Goal

Marty Lang contacted me on Twitter, presumably in refernce to the joblist, or my own jobs page:

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.

Probability of winning Snakes and Ladders
I hated this game as a kid.

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.

Other Ladders

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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4 Responses

  1. Great information TAPA! Getting an industry job can be just as difficult as getting more auditions. Feel free to check out my blog at for more information on how to get a job in the industry and advice for actors!

  2. There is always more than one way to something . There is more than one to skin a cat.

  3. I feel like a minor celebrity now. 🙂 Thanks for the reminder that there are as many paths to success as there are successful people.

  4. What do you do when a fellow assistant is trying to tarnish your reputation because you’ve made it further than they have? This person is a cancer and I wish I could put her on blast because she already has a terrible track record.

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