How long does it take to write an episode of television while I’m in professional sitcom writer, so I’ll speak to that first. Generally, it takes about three to five days for a story to be broken on the board. That’s the process by which someone pitches an idea, a kernel of an idea. And we put all the beats on a whiteboard. We figure out the act breaks the character dynamics, the, A story, the B story. And it usually takes between three to five days. Sometimes a writer will pitch an idea and there’s just not enough meat on the bones. And you were halfway through, ah, we got to throw this out. We gotta start again. Then from there, one writer will be assigned to write an outline based on the board. And it usually takes about a week to write an outline. Then that outline we’ll come back to the writer’s room and the showrunner or the writers, all the writers together, we’ll give notes on the outline. Then that writer will go off and write a first draft. An experienced writer usually gets between a week and two weeks to write a first draft. But, an upper-level writer can usually do it in about a week. And the script comes back to the writer’s room. Sometimes we do it again. They go off to write a second draft. Sometimes there’s no time for a second draft. There is usually gonna be about a week for a second draft, if there isn’t time, we go to the table.

The table is the process by which all the writers and the showrunner, sit around the table and we rewrite the script line for line. We tweak story points, we’ll change, dialogue, all this stuff. The whole goal of this is to homogenize the script, so one script doesn’t look like it was written by one writer and another script by a different writer. It should all feel like it was written by the same team so that it’s, it’s like quality control. So it feels like you’re just watching your favorite episode, your favorite show, not like your favorite writer. Okay.

Then from there, the script will go to the table. I know I’m using the word table twice. The table refers to when the actors sit around a table, and table read together. And at that point, all the writers are trying to figure out what’s working with us at work. If it’s a multi-camera show, you have another, let’s say about five days to continue tweaking the script before you shoot it. If it’s a single-camera show, it usually shoots the next day or even later that day. You might only have a day to do a rewrite. So from idea to shooting script, it can take anywhere from four to six weeks for a script to be ready to be shot.

Now, many of you are writing scripts on your own and you don’t have a team and you’re not experienced. So be kind to yourself. If it takes us four to six weeks, it can easily take you twice as long or longer than that. It’s not a race. The point is to write something that’s really good. So for information, for help on how to actually do that, I’m leaving all those details out. That’s what my course is about. And you can find the course. There’s always a link in the description or in my bio, Michael But if you’re not ready for that, that’s okay too. Just follow and subscribe. I post daily tips here and you can see them all just by following subscribing to @MichaelJaminwriter.

Michael Jamin, Showrunner, TV Writer, Author

Michael Jamin

For the past 26 years, Michael Jamin has been a professional television writer/showrunner. His credits include King of the Hill, Beavis & Butthead, Wilfred, Maron, Just Shoot Me, Rules of Engagement, Brickleberry, Tacoma FD and many more.

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