Another WGA Lesson
Read the LAT article carefully. A number of recent movies that have done well were financed by outside money people - and largely in control of the writers:
Being entrepreneurial isn't for the faint of heart. If you want a sweet upfront paycheck, you may not have the stomach for it. But after seeing studios bowdlerize their scripts, many writers will swap a big payday for more control. [Writer-director David] Twohy says that after Relativity read his script, "They told me, 'Script approved as-is.' I've never heard a studio ever say that."I don't mean to be insulting or to belabor a point, but are you getting this yet? Writers can find ways to control their own work. The reins are slipping out of the fingers of those who traditionally controlled them.
What does this mean for the type of freelance writing you do? It's time to consider what you might create that a major publisher won't buy. No, you probably cannot afford to go off and do it full time without an investor. But what if someone did invest? Or what if you did it on the side, much the same way that some popular novelists who make boatloads now started by writing in the mornings, before heading to their 9-5 job?
Maybe you start with a blog and begin building an audience. Maybe you write something really good and go after book clubs to pick up your self-published title, sending free samples to those willing to consider it. Maybe you develop a site that will eventually support advertising. Don't expect that the money will roll in from day one. If you are going to be an entrepreneur - which, by the way, you already are, whether you realize it or not - then you have to start thinking like one. Real payoffs don't get offered up front. You invest your time and energy and take the compensation farther down the road. Some things you try will be a bust. Maybe some won't. But it's a hell of a lot better than passively griping about bad contracts, low pay, committee editing, and one-sided contracts.
Realistically, very few writers will start down this route. Most will look for safety. But it's the safety of a cage left on the beach, and the tide is coming in. The only safety in the long run is breaking out, building a boat, and learning to sail.