Monday, November 12, 2012

What I Wish I'd Heard At Graduation, Addendum: Would You Hire You?

True story: After a few failed attempts at post-college dating, I had reached the point where I’d pretty much given up. I decided that I would just wait until some girl came along, took pity on my aimless 20-something life, and saved me from myself. Amazingly, this didn’t work.

Then, one day, something occurred to me.  I asked myself: “Hey, Matt, would you date you?” Could I look at myself and say, “Hey, what a catch! He’s living the kind of life I’d love to lead! We’d have so much fun together!” I had to admit that, if I met myself on a blind date, I’d run away.

So I quit my pizza delivery job for a somewhat-interesting desk job, traded in my junker for the cheapest new car they sold, and started going out on the weekends, doing the sort of thing I would be doing if I had a girlfriend. One month later, I met Betsy. If she had met me a month earlier, would she have liked what she saw? We’ll never know.

It works the same way with writing.  I keep having to remind myself that I can sit around hating on others for getting the interviews or assistant gigs or staff gigs that I wanted, but I should never stop asking myself, “Would I hire me? Am I what a showrunner is looking for? Am I a catch?” And if not, why not?  Because there’s a lot of things I can’t control, but I can always be upping my game. 

The wonderful thing about writing is that, unlike dating, anybody can do it at anytime. You don’t need permission to write the great American story. In fact, even if somebody wanted to stop you, they couldn’t. Writers write. It’s free, fun, and you can do it all day long.

If you want to be hired to write an episode of a TV show every month, here’s one good way to prepare: write an episode of a TV show every month. Yes, it sucks that you have to do it for free for the time being, and it would be nice to work in an the industry that had an outreach program and paid for on-the-job training, but we’re masochists, and we’ve chosen an industry that only needs 0.001% of applicants, so they don’t feel any incentive to do that.

The best way to get a writing gig is the best way to get a date: Act like you already have one.


Harvey Jerkwater said...

I would totally hire me, but only as eye candy.

Matt Bird said...

And you're willing to sleep with the boss.