Even when you make it, it’ll still be a hustle.
Joey Soloway got to a level many writers dream of: a working freelance TV writer on Six Feet Under, The United States of Tara and other shows. Not content with this, they wrote pilots in their spare time, which didn’t sell, before striking critical and popular gold with Transparent.
Kay Cannon wrote forty-six episodes of 30 Rock and served as a producer from seasons three through six. She kept writing - on weekends, on her lunch break, on the subway to and from work. It took her three years to write it, but then sold her script: Pitch Perfect.
Kenya Barris wrote eighteen TV pilots, three of which went into production but never made it to air. It’s hard to imagine having the fortitude to keep going - especially with six kids to feed. Then he made Black-ish. Twenty-two episodes a season, top ratings, nominations, awards.
And the work didn’t stop there. Barris continues to show-run Black-ish, and created and writes Grown-ish, Mixed-ish, #BlackAF, and he’s writing screenplays for a Coming to America sequel and Roald Dahl’s The Witches.
Peg Lynch wrote and starred in the fifteen minute radio show Ethel and Albert that ran for most of the 1940s and 50s, moving to TV with it too. The radio show aired five days a week. She wrote every single episode. JFK, then a senator, watched a taping and asked her out. She turned him down to write the next day’s script. He called her again that night, saying “You have to have dinner with me,” and she chose her writing instead of him again.
Every working artist I know hustles. They work like maniacs. They make sacrifices. They’ve got multiple projects on the boil, in various stages. Some gestate for years. Some pop right out. Some sell. Some don’t.
Even the projects that do sell take hustling to keep alive. A good friend of mine has a solo show he’s performed in festivals and theatres in thirty cities. He has enough rave reviews to impress any presenter. And he still has to work his ass off to get it booked.
It’d sure be nice to have opportunities just come to you. Exciting, original projects with experienced collaborators, and full funding from producers who trust you and are perfectly willing to stay out of your way as you express your brilliance.
It probably won’t happen like that.
You’ll keep pitching forever. You’ll keep creating stuff, not all of which will work or see the light of day. Some projects will die because of circumstances beyond your control. Some won’t be as good as you hoped they’d be.
And you’ll learn from it all.
There’s joy in the hustle. It means you’re in the game.
weshowup.io is an audience company. A digital pay-what-you-can solution for VR, online and in-person experiences. Make a reservation, see the show, pay after. We have seen audiences pay an average of 50% more than asked for live streaming performances. The common denominator is artists who do the work earn more because it shows. There is no short cut. Special thanks to TJ Dawe for the collaboration.