How to start a career as a playwright

How to start a career as a playwright


How to start a career as a playwright

Step one: write a play

Step two: send it out

Repeat as necessary.

Step one: write a play

No-one can do this for you.  There are books and websites you can look at for advice on technique, software to help with formatting, and courses you can go on.  You should definitely go to the theatre as much as possible.  You may even be able to get a grant to buy you time to write, or to pay for mentoring or dramaturgy.  But at the end of the day it’s down to:




Step two: send your play out

Get your script as good as you can get it before you start sending it out.  Get the story right, and all the scenes and characters fully realized.  Put the script into industry format (it’s not set in stone, but there are conventions).  If you’re dyslexic, or your spelling is in any way dodgy, get someone reliable to proofread.

Then send it out.  Some of the major new writing theatres offer a script reading service.  You could also try sending it to reputable competitions — Bruntwood, Verity Bargate, Theatre503.  See our resources list for details.

Don’t forget your regional theatres, and smaller companies that might be interested in your work — eg Rifco if you’re an Asian comedy writer.  Send your script to us too, at the Writing Our Legacy address.

When you’ve sent it off, wait.  If you haven’t heard anything for six months (or after the notification period indicated), it’s OK to send a polite email enquiry.

Repeat as necessary

You probably won’t hit the jackpot first time (or any time).  But if you keep writing and keep sending out then you will slowly build a career.

If you have a bit of talent and a bit of technique and a bit of tenacity and a bit of luck, you will start to get noticed in competitions and by literary managers. You might get professional rehearsed readings of your work or an offer to work with a dramaturg (though you might not be paid for any of this).  You might get commissioned or offered a full production.

There is not (usually) a lot of money in it though.  So unless there are other compelling indicators, you might want to hang onto the day job.