Given the lamentable state of the feature film spec script market, the relative certainty of the TV market is a viable option for screenwriters. How do you get a gig writing for TV? Keep writing and build up a body of work that can serve as spec scripts.
Contact your favorite TV shows and ask if there are slots for writers’ assistants available. Oftentimes, writers’ assistants are the first to be offered a spec or a freelance script. Many become staff writers.
There are also a variety of TV writers fellowships. The ABC Writers Fellowship and NBC’s Writers On The Verge are the most prestigious and competitive. Successful completion greatly enhances one’s chances of being staffed as a writer on a TV show. There are other programs aimed at minorities such as women or Latinos, which open writing doors if you qualify.
Although the rates for TV writers have taken several haircuts over the last two years, the range of opportunities has perversely increased. Previously, networks were focused on syndication (retransmission), but now the tide has turned in favor of original programming thanks to several cable TV producers such as HBO, Showtime and AMC.
The transition between film to TV is not easy, given the vast differences between the media. The joy of TV is knowing that your script will be produced. The turnaround is infinitely faster and you can become more intimate with your characters since you may spend several seasons with them.