How to Get Back in the Saddle After the WGA Strike
October 6, 2023
Maybe you’ve been out on the picket lines towing the line or at home refreshing your inbox a hundred times a day to see if a deal had been made, either way it’s probably been a while since you've been writing in a regular stride since the WGA Writer’s Strike began on May 2, 2023. But now that it's over, it’s time to get back to business. So, how do you get your mojo back? This article will help you take stock of where your career is, jump start the creative process and get yourself back in the saddle... er keyboard because it's time to WRITE again!
1. Take stock of where you are
In her podcast, More Than You See, writer/actor/producer Deborah Lee Smith acknowledged the following, “I know I have been spiraling about the state of the industry and I remind everyone (and myself) that this situation is temporary, that our feelings of overwhelm should be acknowledged but not given the reigns, and what we can do to help us when we are feeling hopeless about AI or never working again.” Many artists have expressed similar feelings.
This is a good time for you to do some personal inventory. Have you been stressed? What have you internalized during the strike? How did it impact your hope in your career or your faith in yourself? Have you been prioritizing self-care?
Take some time to mindfully acknowledge that the strike was stressful and discouraging. Give yourself credit for persevering. Consider what your needs are going forward.
But also take some time to reflect on why you are pursuing this career. What is it about writing that sparks your imagination or gives you purpose? Remind yourself of why you became a writer in the first place. Let that inspire and encourage you.
2. Connect with your community
I can’t convey enough how wonderful it is to connect with the community in this industry. Your close friends will read your screenplays and give you notes, inspire and motivate you to submit to opportunities, and commiserate during the frustrating parts of this career. This is a great time to reach out to your friends and set up a date to touch base. If you’re new to the industry, attend writers' meetups or arrange one of your own. You can also join a writing group on social media.
It’s good to remain positive and forward-thinking, but it’s also very valid to feel burnt out or dismayed. Even if you’re itching to get back to writing what you love but just don’t know where to start, there is no better time to make important connections with your fellow writers.
And right now, they probably need you just as much as you need them.
3. Start small — or short
If you’re feeling a little rusty about writing after four months on the picket lines, remember that it’s nice to start small. If you’re having trouble starting your next feature or TV pilot, try writing a one-act play or a short film. Maybe even just start with a scene or a character backstory. Sometimes just flowing with a low-pressure project can help get those writing muscles started again. They can also help remind you how much you enjoy writing (or having written — which is perfectly valid, too!).
Sometimes it’s nice to bring your pages to life in between the roller coaster of writing full-length projects and trying to get them in front of industry readers. With a one-act play or a short film, you can literally get them up on their feet. Shoot that short film! Release it online! Get your work out there and remember how satisfying it can be to tell your stories.
4. Write with a purpose
The French philosopher Albert Camus once said "The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself." Many writers begin with stories inside that we need to tell but along the way, we can discover stories that the world needs us to tell.
There are a lot of conversations around AI and its potential use in the entertainment industry right now, but the world will always need human creativity. Your favorite projects are ones that reflect something meaningful back toward you — humor from a place of truth, tragedy that names human aches, uplifting stories that show us a path forward.
Remember, human storytelling is sacred and ancient. It began around fires to regale bravery or to understand our surroundings. If the strike lit a fire in you or made you realize things you want to change in the world, write it down.
Read More: 7 Ways to Come Up With New Screenplay Ideas
5. Take a good break
If you spent the entire strike on the picket lines or working a second job to make ends meet, don’t be afraid to give yourself the gift of a true holiday. The strike was stressful and it’s coming on the heels of three years of a global pandemic. Maybe you thought the strike was a good time to get some writing done. Maybe you fretted because you thought you should be writing. However, you spent the strike, make sure you give yourself permission to truly check out, relieve yourself of some pressure, and reset.
Read More: When Writing Isn't Fun Anymore...
It was a long, hot strike. You’re not alone if you’re feeling uncertain about how to move forward. Check out this joyful video that WGA Negotiating Committee Member John August shared if you want some proof; this is an industry brimming with talented, creative people just like you. Connect with others, start small, and tune in to the stories that only you can tell. We’re all in different boats but we’re in the same crazy storm.
See you out there and happy writing!
Written by: Shannon CorbeilShannon Corbeil is a writer, actor, and U.S. Air Force veteran in Los Angeles with appearances on SEAL Team and The Rookie. She was also a 2023 DGE TV Writing Program Finalist, and her screenplays have placed in various contests. You can read more about her on her website or come play on Instagram and Twitter!