Jeanne Veillette Bowerman recently shared an article about the terrible waiting game all screenwriters must play. She also provides some constructive advice for what to do if after all that waiting, you get the dreaded “pass.” Bowerman writes:
Your email inbox pings, and it’s a “pass.” Now what?
I always ask if they have notes to share. That keeps a dialogue going; plus, they’ll see I take feedback well. In fact, I’m a bit of critique-loving junkie.
If they say they love my writing, I ask to be considered for future in-house writing assignments.
Since everyone knows everyone in L.A., I inquire if they’re aware of another company looking for a premise like mine. You’d be surprised how many referrals I’ve gotten that way.
Pitch a new idea you came up with while you were waiting to hear from them.
Make sure you leave that door open by asking if you can submit future work directly to them, bypassing the gatekeepers. If your writing is good, the answer almost always is “yes.”
Above all, thank them for their time. Can you imagine how many passes they give out every day? Those can’t be fun. Set yourself apart from the pack by showing you have class.
Go for a long run, or pour yourself a stiff drink. Do whatever is necessary in order to climb back on the horse the next day and get back to writing.
No one wants to hear “It’s a pass,” but if you have a game plan for how to handle the news, it makes the sting less severe. Writing as much as you can while you wait will busy your mind, help you develop a plan B, improve your work, and give you new ideas to discuss with the executives once you do hear back. Those new ideas might be exactly what your career needs to get you to the next level.