The Helpful Reviewer

Build a career, don’t just write a script

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

When we decide to embark on the laborious journey of writing a script, often times we get so into our story, that we forget that in the end, screenwriting is a business, just like any other business in life. If you want to make screenwriting your career, and not just a hobby, you should treat it as such. Meaning you need to build a career, not just write a script. So what does that mean in real terms?

  • You need to write every single day. Even if it’s just a few words scribbled on a napkin. Anything that triggers an idea, you should put into writing. Having a writing journal or app is definitely a helpful tool. Some people even rely on voice recorders or voice recording apps so they can always remember ideas that can come at the strangest times, even while driving or doing something else. But writing is like a muscle—you need to exercise it in order to keep it active.
  • Challenge yourself. Don’t just write what’s easy. Push further. Research. Do the hard work. Even if it scares you. It will only make your writing better, more realistic, and more human.
  • Take your writing seriously. If this is really what you want to do with your life, then treat it as such. Have a designated writing area. Make a weekly schedule. Make it a priority.
  • Be professional about it. Get the write software and tools. Take classes. Read books. Seek out a mentor. Make writer friends who can provide support and feedback.
  • Build a good portfolio. You can’t just write one script. For starters, it usually takes 10 to 20 scripts to really write a good script. But also, if one of your scripts happens to land in someone’s radar, they’ll immediately want to know what else you have. And those other scripts better be ready. They won’t wait months for you to write something else. They want to know right away if you can write more than one script. Nobody wants to work with a one hit wonder.
  • Write, write, write. And then rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. Learn that writing is rewriting. Get notes from friends, professional coverage services, mentors, etc, and apply those notes.
  • Learn to take notes. You need to see past notes sometimes to see what the underlying meaning of a certain note might be. But to make it in this industry, you need to be able to take notes, see them as constructive criticism, and learn how to apply them to your script.

Cody Smart

Cody Smart


Cody is an independent writer and script doctor from Santiago, Chile. She attended the prestigious Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, where she double majored in English Literature and Linguistics, with a minor in Dramatic Literature. She moved to L.A. and got her MFA in Screenwriting at the New York Film Academy, Universal Studios location, while at the same time working at Sony Pictures as a reader and story analyst. She also received two Certificates from UCLA, in Development and Producing for Film and TV.

Aside from her years of experience as a studio reader, she’s a judge for multiple script and film competitions, has written some award-winning short films and feature film scripts, she’s been working as a script analyst and doctor for years helping writers take their scripts to the next level, and is currently the head of the coverage department at Story Data.