How Competitive Is Screenwriting?

I’ve decided to cover this topic because I’ve seen so much toxicity amongst writers online, with some putting others down. I can’t sit idly by and watch this. We need to understand that yes there is an inherent competitive aspect to screenwriting but we can navigate it without tearing each other apart.

The Sheer Numbers

The screenwriting community is vast. Hundreds of thousands of people consider themselves screenwriters, ranging from aspiring writers working on their first script to seasoned professionals with multiple credits. This sheer volume creates a highly competitive environment where standing out is crucial. Which leads me to…

Breaking from the Pack

To succeed as a screenwriter, it’s essential to differentiate yourself from the masses. This means honing your craft, developing a unique voice, and consistently producing high-quality work. Entering screenwriting contests, attending industry events, and networking can help you get noticed. Additionally, having a strong portfolio that showcases your best work is vital for making an impression on agents, managers, and producers.

Tips for Breaking from the Pack:

  • Develop a Unique Voice: Your writing should reflect your distinct perspective and style.
  • Continuous Learning: Take screenwriting courses, read industry books, and study successful scripts.
  • Networking: Build relationships with industry professionals through events, workshops, and online communities.
  • Persistence: Keep writing, submitting, and improving your craft despite setbacks and rejections.

Screenwriting Contests

Screenwriting contests can be a valuable avenue for gaining recognition and breaking into the industry. Winning or placing in a reputable contest can provide exposure, attract the attention of industry professionals, and open doors to new opportunities. Many successful screenwriters have kickstarted their careers through contest wins.

Benefits of Screenwriting Contests:

  • Exposure: Contests can bring your work to the attention of agents, managers, and producers.
  • Feedback: Many contests offer feedback on your script, helping you improve.
  • Networking: Finalists and winners often get to attend industry events and meet key players.

Writing Gigs

Finding paid writing gigs can be challenging, especially for new screenwriters. Open script calls from producers can be an opportunity, but they often come with their own set of challenges. I once beat over 90 writers for an open script call from a producer, only to discover it was an unpaid deferred gig for an actor/director’s vanity project. Yet this director had an entire crew. I asked if the crew was deferred. They dodged the answer until finally admitting they were being paid. So then I stated. “Every one else is getting paid on this project but me?” The answer was yes. I walked away. And to think the competition for that job was so fierce. This disappointing moment is why it’s important to thoroughly vet opportunities before committing.

Navigating Writing Gigs:

  • Research Opportunities: Ensure the gig is legitimate and offers fair compensation.
  • Clarify Terms: Understand if the gig is paid, deferred, or unpaid before starting and why it is so.
  • Build a Portfolio: The right deferred or low-paid gigs can help build your portfolio and gain experience.

The Toxic Writer

In the highly competitive world of screenwriting, some of our peers resort to toxic behavior, putting others down to feel superior. This negativity can be discouraging and create a hostile environment. However, it’s crucial to rise above this behavior and focus on building a supportive community.

Recognizing Toxic Writers:

  • Criticism without Constructive Feedback: Toxic writers often criticize without offering helpful suggestions.
  • Gatekeeping: They might act as if there’s only one right way to succeed and belittle different approaches.
  • Sabotage: Undermining others’ confidence or spreading rumors to gain an advantage.

Handling Toxic Writers:

  • Stay Professional: Focus on your work and maintain a positive attitude.
  • Seek Supportive Networks: Surround yourself with positive, supportive peers who encourage growth.
  • Ignore Negativity: Don’t engage with toxic behavior. Focus on your goals and progress.

Screenwriting Is Not a Zero-Sum Game

While the industry is competitive, screenwriting does not have to be a zero-sum game amongst peers. Building a supportive network of fellow screenwriters can be incredibly beneficial. Many writers form lifelong friendships and professional relationships that help each other find success and grow their careers. Collaborating on projects, sharing resources, and providing feedback can create a sense of community and mutual support.

Benefits of a Supportive Screenwriting Community:

  • Feedback and Improvement: Peer reviews can provide valuable insights to enhance your scripts.
  • Opportunities and Referrals: Friends in the industry can introduce you to potential collaborators, agents, and producers.
  • Emotional Support: Sharing the highs and lows of the screenwriting journey with peers can be comforting and motivating.

Lifelong Screenwriting Friendships

Building relationships with other screenwriters can lead to lifelong friendships. These connections are not only valuable for professional growth but also for personal support. Celebrating each other’s successes and providing encouragement during challenging times can make the journey more enjoyable and less isolating.

How to Build a Supportive Network:

  • Join Screenwriting Groups: Participate in local or online screenwriting groups and workshops.
  • Attend Industry Events: Engage with other writers at film festivals, conferences, and networking events.
  • Collaborate on Projects: Work with other screenwriters on joint projects or offer to read and provide feedback on their scripts.
  • Stay Connected: Keep in touch with fellow writers and support each other’s work through social media and regular meetups.


Screenwriting is undeniably competitive, with hundreds of thousands of aspiring writers vying for recognition. However, by developing a unique voice, continuously improving your craft, and building a supportive network, you can break from the pack and find success. Remember, screenwriting doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game. Building strong relationships with fellow writers can lead to lifelong friendships and mutual success.

For more insights and tips on pursuing a screenwriting career, be sure to check out my book, The Guide For Every Screenwriter. Additionally, explore this site, The Successful Screenwriter, for resources, tips, and a supportive community of screenwriters.

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