How Do Writers Pay Bills While on Strike?

By: James Flippin · June 08, 2023 · Reading Time: 3 minutes

Strike On Week 6

The Writers Guild of America officially went on strike at midnight on May 2. The decision to hold out for better rates could pay off in the long-term. But in the meantime, it will mean the 11,500 writers in the Guild may need to get creative to make ends meet.

It has been about six weeks since the strike started. For many Americans, that long of a stretch without income could be enough to burn a significant hole in their savings account. With no end in sight, America’s top writers remain hard at work finding new ways to pay their bills.

Feast or Famine

Screenwriting is similar to professional athletics — the bulk of the earning power tends to be concentrated at the top. For example, in baseball the average MLB player is a millionaire several times over while the average minor league player makes between $20,000 and $36,000.

The same is true for writing. In other words, if your name isn’t Aaron Sorkin or Shonda Rhimes, chances are you’re no stranger to working a freelance lifestyle.

Many TV writers hop from show to show, paying bills based on a string of contract gigs. And, since many shows today run for only a handful of seasons or even episodes, those contracts are getting shorter and shorter. Some writers will likely spend the strike hustling on scripts, books, or other unsold ideas. But they’ll have to look beyond Hollywood to keep cash coming in.

Finding Writing Work

In an effort to make ends meet, writers may look into writing jobs that aren’t involved in the strike as an alternate way to make money. This includes writing for commercials, documentaries, or unscripted television.

Plus, there’s still demand for talented writers across the business spectrum. For example, writers can take up gigs in areas such as:

•   Social media: composing captions or posts.

•   Finance: preparing financial documents and investor materials.

•   Public relations: drafting press releases, CEO statements, and corporate presentations.

•   Marketing: writing website copy, advertisements, newsletters, brochures, and sales materials.

Taking on these writing gigs might not be as attractive to some Hollywood writers as working on HBO’s (WBD) next hit show. But it’s still a great way to keep the creative juices flowing while earning some cash during the strike — and, perhaps, beyond it.

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