Screenwriting : What was your day job? by Xaviera Iglesias

Xaviera Iglesias

What was your day job?

What was your day job before becoming a screenwriter? And are you still working in that field or have you transitioned from the 9-5 day worker to full-time caffeinated, insomniac, first-draft procrastinator, rewrite-hater writer you've always wanted to be?

Also, have you ever written a character or a story based on your former career?

Mista Martel


Brad Mason

I haven't quit my day-job solely for Screenwriting. In this Script Economy nobody should. But I do get to work behind the scenes of somebody else's script every week, so it's often a pleasant learning experience. Free time is for typing away, fully-caffeinated.

John Day

Well, I just finished grading 200+ research outlines tonight, so I guess I haven't quit my teaching job yet (after 22 years). On the plus side, a script I wrote about a school shooting got me repped, along with some attachments that still make my head swim -- we'll see if it recovers from Covid. At this point, the only way I see quitting my day job would be if writing assignments started coming my way. My manager and I are working on that with my most recent project -- hopefully another calling card.

Craig D Griffiths

I am an intelligence and data analyst for Government. I have a team of people. Have spent the last year focusing on Covid data, tracking inspections to help target and coral the infections. Pays great and I’ll probably stay for a few years. If I get some huge writing contract I will leave.

I also derive income from commercial real estate investments.

Bill Albert

I work in a factory making refrigerators. Writing helps me shake off the stress for a while.

Vital Butinar

Well before I got into filmmaking I had my own IT company and I still do work in IT sometimes since I used to manage huge networks with up to 140 workstations and 10 servers etc.

But at the same time I had a side gig working as a graphics designer which I still do. Then I had a kind of a hobby side gig which was being a salsa, bachata, kizomba dance instructor which unfortunately thanks to the whole pandemic craziness haven't done for over a year. I also used to DJ a lot on salsa parties as a side gig and we used to perform with our dance group. That didn't pay much if at all, usually it was a money pit.

My partner and I also sometimes work on larger film crews like commercials as camera operators or I sometimes work as a PA or 1st or 2nd AD. Right now we're working with a game show, where I'm a PA. Boring stuff but it pays the bills.

We also do side projects like shoot music videos and other video related stuff like editing videos and creating animations.

In the mean time I write a couple of things and then try to produce them into films.

Hopefully I can eventually diverte more time to this since filmmaking is the one thing of all the stuff I've done where I can use all my knowledge.

Christiane Lange

My current day job is in corporate comms, meaning I write speeches, newsletters, PRs etc. for living.

Before that, I ran a small, academic publishing house with my then husband.

In parallel, we did consulting and lobbying jobs (cause academic publishing doesn't pay). This sideline gave me interesting perspectives on politics and quite a lot of contact with intelligence types from various countries. Essentially we operated in the area where intelligence, politics, diplomacy and business intersect.

The story I am currently pitching springs directly from this experience. Since completing the script, several aspects of my story have emerged in current news reports, to the point that it is downright funny at times.

Johnathan Burns

Full time writing? Who actually does that and makes a living from it? (jokes).

I'm an Aircraft Maintenance Technical Records Assistant during the day and a Town (City) Planner on the side.

My aviation background helped in writing my action script 'The Poacher' and probably comes through in sci-fi's when it comes to space/aircraft in flight.

Kiril Maksimoski

Nothing unusual bout filmmakers having extra/side/day jobs...Mark Wahlberg is into fast food business, Alan Rickman was into graphic design most of his actor life, Paul Newman owned a food brand and I think Kevin Costner was working lawyer before going into filmmaking, his early 40's...I'm into CS at the moment, changed a ton of jobs in the past, still part time actor...closest to real career was some 20 years ago in the military, but I declined...

Barry John Terblanche

By trade, I'm an electronic security technician, by passion I'm a screenwriter. My recent horrid spell with Covid saw me lose my full-time employment... and by the God above that loves me - I get an email from a screenwriting competition company that came across my work and asked if I'm interested in reading/feedback notes for them. Long story short... I'm now a freelance (self-employed) screenwriting competition reader and analyst for a few top companies. Now at $30 a script it may not be much for an American...? I'm a South African where our Rand to Dollar exchange rate is a staggering 1:17 = I now make more money than I did in my full-time (career) job, getting paid for my passion. Thanks, Covid :-/

Lee Krempel

High school english teacher.

James Welday

Professionally, I work in an office, but I have a Walter Mitty-ish mindset when I'm there. Sure, the work gets done, and I'm good at what I do, but my imagination is usually on high alert, thinking and pondering my WIP. It helps to get a creative leg up first thing in the morning. I wake an hour or so before I need to, and write when the house is quiet. It's a great stimulator to start the day.

Christian Nommay

I'm a content creator and motion designer for a company working with cooperatives and social enterprises. I also work sometimes as a freelance graphic designer for tabletop RPG publishers.

CJ Walley

I was a freelance print/web designer and marketing consultant before I quit to become a screenwriter. I don't miss it but the skills sure come in handy.

Vital Butinar

CJ Walley they do don't they? :) I think any skills and the more you have helps a person starting out in filmmaking.

Erik A. Jacobson

I started as a poster designer and soon found a demand for them in all 50 states plus overseas, so switched to making films. But I still think a lot about what kind of poster would best market a film project before starting on the script.

Julia Petrisor

Yeah, I used to work in outdoor ed and then addictions - I was a wilderness counselor for teens in addiction rehab. The kids would meet us in the woods and sometimes were still high their first days, then they'd detox on trail. Yep, you can imagine what a fun gig that was! I've written a horror movie based on that experience.

Morris Stuttard

Used to run an English department along with some programs for mentorship and social awareness. As to your second question - I was about to say no (apart from some memoir stuff) but then realised I did write a web series that drew a lot from that time. Was my first paid gig.

Richard M Kjeldgaard

Still working as medical claims processor and auditor. Two rules of screenwriting...KEEP writing and KEEP your day job.

Missy Allardyce

I am both 9-5 day worker AND full-time caffeinated, insomniac, first-draft procrastinator, rewrite-hater writer [I've] always wanted to be. Actually it's getting into screenwriting (Hallmark-style since Hallmark movies have been my other crutch) that's keeping me afloat through the pandemic. Someday yes my day job will turn up in stories but I'll probably upgrade to lawyer.

Jim Boston

Xaviera, I'm still a machine operator in a plastics factory...and I want screenwriting to replace factory work in my life. (Two of my future projects will center on factory least, that's the plan.)

By the way...I work 3-11 rather than 9-5.

Great post, Xaviera! Wishing you all the VERY BEST!

James Welday

Good to hear, Missy! Keep at it!

Barry John Terblanche

I'm always fascinated by the Americans 9 to 5 job... we Europeans, and I a South African work 8 to 5.

James Welday

As an American, it's more 7:45am to 5:45 pm.

Barry John Terblanche

So it was the singer Dolly Partan that started it. :-))

Selma Karayalcin

I'm a high school English teacher and work 7.40 - 1.35 unless there are extra curricular activities and meetings not to mention prep and marking ....which means I don't really finish until 7pm!! Finding time to write is always a challenge and that's why I decided to invest in the "Stage 32 Screenwriting Lab: Write Your Feature Screenplay in 12 Weeks with Expert Guidance from a Global Executive" - I am super excited even though it will take place at the busiest time of the academic year.

Jose Eduardo Penedo

Content producer for a tech company. Mostly educational/scientific stuff. Also do event photography whenever a gig comes around. Bores the living hell out of me, but it pays the bills...

Doug Nelson

I'm retired from a professional career as a commercial real estate appraiser. I appraised major projects all around the US with fees in the $10K to $70K range. I had chunks of down time between assignments so I dabbled in the film industry as a 'hobby'. Many of the individual investors in the projects I worked on were from the old time Hollywood world - that allowed me to rub shoulders with some of the legendary players of the time. Now I'm just small time.

Steven Michael

I'm retired from a small business career most recently. I have included one character from my early adult life - I was a college All-American in baseball and played seven years of professional baseball. One of my screenplays is told through the experiences of a minor-leaguer who gets hit in the head with a pitch and wakes up in 1908. Alas, it needs a major rewrite.

Adam Jestin

Currently unemployed. Have drawn from previous jobs (pizza delivery, house painting, putting up posters on campus/delivering flyers) to write scripts.

Martin Reese

I'm a civil engineer by day, screenwriter by night. Haven't actually written my daytime job into a screenplay, but I have used the concept of office politics based on my experiences.

Sarah Gabrielle Baron

I've worn a lot of hats. Mom, teacher, resort owner. I've written throughout. I can't stop. One day I'll be paid (maybe). I'm beyond worrying too much about that. I just have to write. I'm learning to love the 'procrastination' because it's really gestation. I've learned to love the rewrite, as the product will be so much better than its predecessors. I don't tend to write my day jobs into my specs, but every character is me in some way I don't realize at the time. Sometimes it's years after that I realize "oh, Wow, that character's wound is my wound! I had not idea!" Great conversation!!

Cannon Rosenau

I do the books for my husband's business and fill in wherever. I, once upon a time worked as a paralegal for nearly a decade. I was going to go to law school to become a lawyer, until I decided to (prayerfully) consider my fine arts degree in scriptwriting! Best decision ever. Dealing with OPP (other people's problems), not thanks.

Cannon Rosenau

*no thanks. I have fat wine fingers.

Justin Plourde

I'm in finance/accounting, I was a chef/kitchen worker for about 14 years when I was young but got out of it after a bout with cancer and no insurance. Basically put myself through school to get a degree with my only ambition being to have a chair and not to exhausted to write when I got home, of course things change and I'm pretty good at what I do so I've achieved a bit more than just a chair.

Jill A. Hargrave

I'm a documentary producer and segment producer, mainly for public television. I still have a project I'm raising funds for that is in the R&D phase. Should know if I land a government grant at the end of May.

Xaviera Iglesias

Wow! I love this community. You guys are awesome. I feel like we're magicians in plain clothes, functioning as ordinary folks in plain sight with all of these wild and beautiful and out-of-this-world imaginations that are just waiting to be unleashed for the whole universe to see.

I'm honestly inspired by all of you. So let's keep pushing the dreams, the projects, and the visions we have for ourselves and turn those ordinary days into a little bit extra magical.

John Ellis

Still a truck driver for 34 years. Amateur writer for 49. Part-time, semi-pro writer for 22. Full-time professional writer - 0.


And yes, the MC in my faith-based action feature is a female truck driver. :)

Freyja Seren

Youth worker, volunteer manager, charity sector generally anything-er. I've also owned cafes, slung coffee, washed dishes, waited tables, and covered most of the hospitality sector. Worked in a few bookshops. I've been a dance teacher, movement therapist, photographer, counsellor, sexual health educator. I've also worked in dry-cleaning businesses, accountant's offices, solicitor's admin, website design. Loads of voluntary theatre stuff - backstage, front of house, on stage. I've had paid spoken word gigs and was the singer in a band for a few years. Did a bit of silversmithing and general crafty arty-ness. Pretty hard not to write my work into my story-lines as I've done pretty much everything....

Eric Roberts

I'm all that! I think it's on the days I'm not sure my story is relevant and important.

Ronika Merl

Still at it. backend data management for real estate contracts for the mobile operator industry in Germany. Boom.

Now that's what I call excitement. :D

But it's a good job and I like it.

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