Writing Forward

26 Creative Writing Careers

by Melissa Donovan | Aug 4, 2022 | Creative Writing | 164 comments

creative writing careers

Creative writing careers — they’re out there!

If creative writing is your passion, then you’d probably enjoy a career in which you could spend all day (or at least most of the day) pursuing that passion.

But creative writing is an artistic pursuit, and we all know that a career in the arts isn’t easy to come by.

It takes hard work, drive, dedication, a whole lot of spirit, and often, a willingness to take big financial risks — as in not having much money while you’re waiting for your big break.

The Creative Writing Career List

Here’s a list of creative writing careers that you can consider for your future. I’m not making any promises. You have to go out and find these jobs yourself, but they do exist. You just have to look for them and then land them.

  • Greeting Card Author
  • Comic Book Writer
  • Copywriter (business, advertising, marketing, etc.)
  • Writing Coach
  • Screenwriter
  • Songwriter (Lyricist)
  • Freelance Short Fiction Writer
  • Web Content Writer
  • Creative Writing Instructor
  • Legacy Writer (write people’s bios and family histories)
  • Critic/Reviewer
  • Ghostwriter
  • Article Writer (write, submit, repeat)
  • Video Game Writer
  • Personal Poet (write personalized poems for weddings, funerals, childbirths, etc.)
  • Speechwriter
  • Write sleep stories
  • Blogger (don’t tell me you don’t have a blog yet!)
  • Creative Writing Consultant
  • Specialty writer (food, travel, fitness, etc.)
  • Write guided meditations

I’m not saying you’re going to make a lot of money with some of these creative writing careers. You might have to earn your creating writing income part-time or on the side. But if you do what you love, the money (i.e. the success) just might follow. You’ll never know unless you try, right?

Do you have any creative writing careers to add to this list? Share your suggestions by leaving a comment.

Ready Set Write a Guide to Creative Writing

164 Comments

GrapeMe

I find it so difficult to consolidate my thoughts when it comes to career paths. I know this is only a short post with some fairly obvious suggestions, but I really have to say cheers for arranging them in a way that means I can go “Oh yeah. I could do that. Or that..”

Baffled in the world of writing.

Melissa Donovan

Thanks, GrapeMe. I’m sure there are many more creative writing career paths, and hopefully some folks will stop by and add their suggestions. What I wanted to do with this post was present some starter ideas for career building. If you’re in school or have a full-time job, then these are great ways to get your feet wet, and you never know where these jobs will take you! Good luck to you!

Wayne C. Long

Great post!

I can tell you from personal experience that it IS possible to make a career in creative writing. My dream was to launch an on-line store where I could showcase and sell e-mail subscriptions to my collection of short stories. Additionally, I wanted to foster other short story writers by sponsoring short story contests.

Now, nearly three years later, LongShortStories is happily chugging along like The Little Engine That Could, bringing the best in short fiction to an ever-widening appreciative global audience.

It does take patience and perseverence, along with a huge leap of faith in yourself and the reading community at large, to create and maintain such an ongoing venture.

Am I successful? Yes. Am I rich? Yes, if by that you define success and richness as living out one’s creative dream. For that, I am so grateful to my loyal readers and contest entrants who see the power in the short story form.

Go for it, I say!

Wayne C. Long Writer/Editor/Digital Publisher

That’s one of the reasons I wanted to present this list — you never know where it will lead if you just start by dipping your toes in the water. And I think for those of us who are creative or artistic, there’s a true need to engage our creativity even if it’s not our full-time work. And if we can bring in a little extra spending money doing something we love, all the better!

Siddharth Misra

Hi Wayne Hi. Felt great to see your view and understande your perspective,on this important and required art. Writing is something which will indeed shape the future have already writen poems, want to publish them. Am a Multiple Sclerosis patient would appreciate support in my persuit to make my work visible.

Kelvin Kao

I’ve heard of most of these, except personal poet. Of course, the creative job (though not about writing) that I wonder most about is: who gets hired to design those patterns on paper towels?

I’ve been to several websites for personalized poetry. Actually, that’s something I briefly considered doing many years ago, but ultimately I chose another path. Funny you mention the paper towel patterns, because I have wondered the same thing many, many times!

Rose

Probably a clever little robot..

Marelisa

Children’s book author. 🙂 I completely agree with you that there is usually a way to turn your passion into a successful career, even if it involves looking for unconventional routes to do what you love.

Yes, those unconventional routes are the ones forged by pioneers, people who were compelled to follow their dreams. Reminds me of the saying, “Do what you love and the money will follow.”

Devin

Nice list, Melissa.

I routinely participate in two of the twenty on your list. However, I would be hard pressed to call either a career. More of a labor of love, compulsion, passion than a reliable way to pay the bills — even though I participate daily. Still, I am incredibly fortunate. I would not change my vague professional choices for anything. Best of success to all who tackle anything on the above list.

Thanks, Devin. I believe that if we combine our passion with a desire to make a living doing what we love, anything is possible. Best of luck to you!

I couldn’t agree more. I mostly just do what I love and somehow the bills get paid. believing in yourself is also very helpful — of course there is no reason not to.

Preston

Mrs. Melissa Donovan,

I wanted to write for theater newsletter a friend created.

She gave me the opportunity and not a thought would come to me.

Not a theater professional but I like theater and felt I had something to say about it.

Upon returning a few theater books to the library, I got lost in a Exploring Theater Playwriting, a topic jumped on me Rules of etiquette.

Finally, I have the first draft.

Johnny

I need guidance to help me orient myself with writing and I hope to find it online. This list is a good start. I scrub toilets for a living, can’t help but read and write before and after work. Words, concepts and definitions are very important to me, can’t imagine not pursuing writing soon, yet I need to sell it too somehow. Custodian/janitorial work speaks for itself, words require a lot more compelling.

Christine Mattice

Great list of creative writing careers, Melissa. To this list, I would like to add:

1. Letter writer — writing personal and business letters for clients. 2. Resume writer

…and you’re right. If you do what you love, the money frequently DOES follow!

Thanks, Christine! These are great additions to the list. Resume and cover letter writing are especially notable because one can make a good living in that field. However, I’m not sure it constitutes as creative writing so much as business writing. In any case, definitely worth mentioning!

TayyTayy

I’m not quite sure what I would want to do in the writing field. I don tknow because so many of them I think I could do well in. I am so grateful for this list because it shows a very organized way of showing so many possibilities in this creative field.

If you try different forms, styles, and genres of writing, you’ll eventually find the one that fits! Good luck to you!

TayyTayy

Melissa. I hope I could maybe get into non fiction writing or even journalism.

Good luck. Just keep writing and submitting, and you’ll get there.

Cheerfreak7

Im just a 12 year old girl who wants to know what I want to do with my life when I get older. All of my other friends know exactly what they are going to be, but I wasn’t sure. So, I went and looked on some websites about jobs that have to do with writing, and this website gave me a very good idea of what I want to be, a song writer because I also love singing. Thanks! 🙂

Songwriting is an excellent career. I love that songwriters get to be creative, work with lots of other artists, and are immersed in music but don’t have to deal with the spotlight and publicity (unless the songwriter is also a star). Nice career choice! Good luck to you.

Thatgirl

I am too and my parents have recently asked me what I may have wanted to be and I didn’t even know so it kinda scared me and I have recently realized I like to write stories.I know how this economy works though with the unemployment and it makes me wonder if a writing career would work.I love to write though,am I crazy or something?

At twelve years old, there is no reason to be scared if you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up. You have plenty of time! Lots of people start college without declaring their field of study, and lots of people start college thinking they’re going to do one thing and then change halfway through. But if you really love writing and want to pursue it, then there’s no better time to start than right now. No, you’re not crazy. Writing is a wonderful adventure. Also, you are living in the best possible time in history to be a writer. There are tons of wonderful opportunities available to writers that we did not have ten or twenty years ago. I wish you the best of luck, Thatgirl!

Chicagohopeful

Melissa, I’m a former high school English teacher who realized a few years into teaching that writing was what I really wanted to do. I have a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in education but am trying to change careers. I’ve been working on a YA novel and have been getting EXTREMELY frustrated. I have to say I found your post on accident but have found it to be very inspiring. Thanks for surge of reassurance that it can be done!

You’re welcome! I think it’s wonderful that you’re working on a novel and normal that you’re frustrated. Just keep at it and the frustration will eventually pass. You’ll find that in a battle of willpower, commitment wins out over frustration every time.

Skyi

I really want to write and it has always been a favorite passtime of mine. If i am not writing I feel empty inside like something is missing. The problem is I am scared to take that ‘leap of faith’ and make a career out of it. Instead, I search for everything else to become in life just to run from the truth that writing has been and always will be my destiny. It started back in high school when I was told writers don’t make much money. I let that get in the way of what I could be now and I quit. Now, I see writers that are better and are doing better than I am and I get jealous because I feel I am a better writer than them all!! Then I realize that talk is cheap without evidence to back it up. Can anybody offer a advice or words of encouragement for me to finally persue my one and only true love and happiness in life?? It would be greatly appreciated. Thank you..

Well Skyi, I personally don’t think jealousy is going to get you anywhere. If you obsess over comparing yourself to your peers, you will be in a constant state of negativity. Also, you should keep in mind that regardless of how well you write, you are not entitled to success, especially in a field that you chose not to pursue. I think your best course of action would be to accept that you are where you are right now because of the choices that you (and you alone) made. Once you accept responsibility for your life, you can set a new course and start pursuing a career in writing. It’s never too late to become a writer. Stop focusing on what other writers are achieving and concentrate on writing the best you can. The only way to be a writer is to write.

ChelleJ

Hey Melissa,

I think your website is great! I ran by it by mistake and really found the info helpful. I am venturing out into my writing career and can use all the info I can get my hands on. I do have a question: I have started a career and have ppl supporting me in this career but I am for certain that writing is where I belong and want to do. How do I make the transistion smoothly and let my supporters down easily? 🙂

Thanks in advance for the advice,

Thanks for your kind words. Your question confuses me. Why would you be letting your supporters down if you transition to writing as a career? If they are truly your supporters, it won’t be a let-down at all.

Wow! Is all I can say..I honestly thought that I was in this boat all by myself! Like you, I have ping ponged myself between careers and have always found my way back to writing. I mean literally I have been a secretary for over five years, graduated with a assoicates business degree, taken cosmetology courses and actually done freelance makeup artistry and STILL I find myself unhappy. I had to really sit myself down and think of what I was taking myself through…it didn’t make any sense for me not to pursue my passion; the one thing that I enjoyed most whether I was sad, mad, happy, etc. I have been writing since the tender age of six from poems to short ficition stories, won many rewards for my writing while I was in elementary through middle school. When I reached high school, I didnt want to be labeled as a “geek” and compared my life to peers which led me to where I am today. Don;t get me wrong, my life is not horrible; I have a good job and work with ppl that I am respected by but I know that life can be more fulfilling and better if I was to just do what in the heck I want to do! lol. It’s easier said than done and I know EXACTLY where you are coming from.

Like Melissa has mentioned, don’t spend your time comparing your life to others; your path to success is truly in your hands. 🙂 I wish the very best for you.

Ren

Thank you for this list! My dream career though is to be a show/concept writer for a theme park like Disney. There are stories for each ride and I would love to be one of the minda behind them.

Wow, writing a theme park ride would be a pretty awesome job. That never even occurred to me as a creative writing career. Thanks for adding it, Ren!

Jess

Hi Melissa, I’m coming up to my last year of high school and I’m trying to think of a career path. I love to write, but I’m not sure what the best way to start. What I would like to do the most is writing lyrics, and if not that poetry. However, I don’t think I would be able to. Do you know how I can get my writing out after college? How difficult was it for you? How did you start making a career out of your writing? What helped you the most? Thank you for your time, -Jessica

I believe it’s pretty difficult to make a living writing lyrics and/or poetry. But there are some careers in those areas, and just because it’s a challenging path doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pursue it. As a lyricist, you will need to partner with musicians, so building a network of musicians and learning about the music industry would be a good start. I understand that some slam poets are now making a living in poetry, but their form requires live (and recorded) performances, something not all writers are crazy about. (Search for “slam poetry” or check out IndieFeed Performance Poetry podcast for more info.) You can also write poetry for greeting cards (you’ll have to do a little research on how to get work in that field).

A good start for a poet like yourself is to take some poetry workshops, which will help you understand whether your work is publishable. But you should also submit your poetry to journals and literary magazines. Visit their websites, check their submission guidelines, and then send them your work. That is how you start.

I made a career out of writing by studying creative writing at university, which gave me the skills (and more importantly, the confidence) to start my own blog and copywriting business.

What helped me the most? Writing a lot and reading even more.

Good luck to you!

Andrea

Thank you so much for this list. This will be my last year in high school before I start collage, and my dream has always been to be a writer, but sadly I have always been told that writing doesn’t pay very good unless your amazingly good. The comments as well as the posting, has given me hope about having a job in writing.

One could argue that few careers pay well unless you are amazingly good. I would further qualify that to say you don’t even have to be good, just hardworking and driven. There are plenty of viable career opportunities in writing. It’s probably easier to make a good living as a technical or scientific writer than as a novelist (assuming you acquire the proper training in those fields), but if you are sufficiently motivated, you can succeed at whatever you want.

Joshua

I’ve always loved writing and video games. Me and some of my friends would literally sit and talk for hours about ideas for video games we had and would start writing them down. Even before graduating from high school, I’ve been trying to find a path that would allow me to become a video game writer. It’s been three years since I graduated from high school and I’m still left without answers. I went to college for two years for secondary English education but it just didn’t interest me the way writing for video games do. A few days ago, I went to Pittsburgh University of Greensburg and talked with a professor there to see what I should do if I want to become a video game writer. Once again, I was left without answers. She pretty much told me that she had never heard of such a thing before. Please, if you could provide me with any information, anything at all, I would greatly appreciate it.

I would suggest studying creative writing with a focus on fiction. Another good option might be screenwriting. Video games are stories, so you would want to develop writing skills in general and storytelling skills specifically. You might also take some courses in programming or application development. That’s not my area of expertise, so I can’t be more specific. You best bet is to find someone who writes for video games and ask their advice.

Dream

I came across this on accident. I was looking for different options to take for a career path on writing. I have not written much in my life. When I was in middle school and in high school I used to write in my Journal a lot. I had a couple friends who wrote poems and short stories I thought they were good and I wanted to try too. I wrote in my journal about many different things, but it never seemed satisfying to me. I was too embarassed to show everyone what I could write. So I continued to write secretivley. I stopped writing, and 2 years later when I felt as if my whole life was nothing I started writing again, and now I feel alive! i still don’t think my writing is the best but it has made me feel so much better about myself.I started writing a novel. My fiance is excited for me and wants me to follow my dream and do what I want to do. When I came across this I felt like someone was nudging me. Thank you so much! This has inspired me entirely!

Thank you for sharing your writing experiences. I’m so glad you found Writing Forward inspiring. I know what you mean about coming across something that gives you a little nudge. All my life, I’ve experienced little nudges and they have always pointed me toward writing (even way back when I had my sights set on other career paths). Those little nudges really make one wonder about destiny.

Michelle

I’m one of the few that lived the dream, earned money from writing and hated it! It sounds terrible, but writing for money sucked all the joy out of the creative process for me. I loved to write for school and my unpaid internship (I have a Bachelor’s in English), but the minute I needed to pay bills with my writing, the whole process felt like a soul-suck. Suddenly it wasn’t enough to write when the inspiration hit throughout the week (when my best writing happens anyway), but I had to be witty and original at the snap of a finger. Yet it wasn’t enough to be witty: you have to care about what sells, what different editors think “good” writing even is and follow contradictory style guidelines. It wasn’t that I wasn’t used to these things, but now if it didn’t happen or I didn’t sell, my power goes off. I had panic attacks every time I sat down to write. I had to go back and get a traditional job.

But if I’m out of it, why search this stuff a month and a half after admitting defeat? It’s because I love the art of writing: the creative process, the big dreams of those starting out, the insights others have, the glory of a sentence fashioned just right after five pages of terrible ones. The monetary aspect destroyed that for me. Just goes to show, it’s not for everyone. To anyone that wants to write for a living, be willing to work long hours, open to constant criticism and have a plan B.

Hi Michelle. I would say there’s a big difference between commercial writing and creative writing. Commercial writing means you’re writing for payment rather than to express your own ideas. I can certainly understand how writing commercially zaps creativity or feels like a soul-suck. I’ve experienced it myself. But I hope you’re still pursuing your creative writing. In fiction and poetry, I believe the best writing comes from the heart and is not driven by money or the marketplace.

Jamie

I am a senior in high school and plan on going to college to major in journalism. However, I do not know exactly what field of work to go into. I was thinking about writing for People’s Magazine. I know it seems far-fetched, but hey, it’s my dream! Do you know how a person might have a chance at writing for a such a successful magazine??

Jamie, it sounds like you have decided which field of work to go into (journalism). More specifically, it sounds like you want to write for a Hollywood gossip publication. There are probably many opportunities in that area, not limited to People Magazine. For example, there are tons of websites that focus on celebrity news, and you could also work as a writer for one of the entertainment news shows (like ET or Inside Edition). That’s definitely not my area of expertise, but it sounds to me like you’re already heading in the direction that’s right for you.

Thanks for the comment! I am not exactly positive that I want to write for People Magazine, but I do know that I want to write. What do you do for a living (if you don’t mind me asking)? I would love to write for any company, really. I just like to write. I am interested in entertainment. Which is why I want to write for a magazine. But, writing for something a little more discreet is fine too.

I’m a web designer and copywriter by trade. I help small businesses build effective online marketing campaigns. My livelihood is somewhat supplemented by the work I do here on Writing Forward. I’m also working on a couple of big writing projects (a novel and a book of creative writing exercises). The exercises book will be out soon and available here. The novel could take years! There are many opportunities for writers; you just have to find them.

That is really neat! I just want to do anything to make my family proud! I love to write! 🙂 I can’t wait to gain a higher education. Thanks for taking the time to read my comments and commenting back!

It fills my heart with hope to see a young person so excited about education. Something tells me that you’re going to do quite well, Jamie.

Andrew

Hey, i found this while looking for it, oddly enough. I am currently attending college and in pursuit of a Creative Writing degree, I am about two years in! with almost completed half of my courses for my four year, I still have some question’s as most. My concentration will be in Technical writing, Grants and contracts, but i will be writing on the side to keep the creative spark. I was curious, however, if you could point me in the direction of a detailed description of a day in your shoes as a copy write. i would much oblige Thnx again.

That would be a lengthy essay indeed. I will say this: every day is different. Also, most of my time is not spent writing. It’s spent on marketing and taking care of administrative tasks.

Barbara Saunders

Liberating thought: even if writing does not provide a full living, it can provide enough of one to let a person withdraw from the pressure to move upward in another career. A decent-paying day job plus supplemental writing can add up to as much or more income as a hated rat race job.

I agree 100%. For many writers, it’s an outlet for creativity or it supplements their income — small things that have a big, positive impact on quality of life!

Adebisi

Melisa, Thanks for the list. I am a writer who intends to find my feet more in the art of writing. I am inspired by the list. My contribution is, if you love to write anything at all, start writing. You can’t imagine where it might take you. God bless you.

Thank you for your inspiring words.

delilah

hi I would like a career in writing but I just dont know what to do. I was into journalism but had a talk with a journalist a few weeks ago and got really discouraged. I have a blog and write short stories. But I just dont know what to do in my life. I am 18 years old and would like to stop wasting time and money in lectures I am not going to use. Currently I am doing a course on media production and I’m liking it. But it is like there is something missing. When I write I feel whole.

Many eighteen-year-olds have no idea what they want to do. It sounds like you know you want to write; you just need to figure out what form. College is a great place to figure that out. You can take classes in different types of writing (fiction, journalism, business writing) and find what fits. If you’re drawn to journalism, I don’t think you should give up on it just because one journalist discouraged you. Talk to more journalists, take some journalism classes, and do a little citizen journalism. Experiment and stick with your studies!

Alexis

I am a short story writer, and a poet. But I am only 13. Trying to hook myself into this early <3

I started writing when I was thirteen too. Stick with it!

I will! Haha, even my boyfriend likes my writing.

That’s good. It’s important to have a support system. Try to find others who will appreciate and support your writing, too. Good luck!

Para

I’m having a hard time finding a career path. I’m still in high school, but it’s not going too well.

My odd circumstances are going to leave me in dire straights soon, where I can either choose to drop out of high school and get my GED or go through with two more of high school. (I’m a senior, kind of. I left public school for home school, and it’s not working out. For myself or my mother.) So, I figured that now would be the best time to find a career path that is both logical but suited to my creative side.

Is there any security in being a creative writer? I mean, this list is comparatively small when you look at more practical things like nursing degrees or business degrees. I understand that the big blow up in internet culture, creative writing via blogging is becoming a fast hit with book publishers, but how likely is it that creative writing will be a degree that I can support myself (and/or a family) on?

In this day and age, I don’t think there is true security in any career field. Perhaps there never has been. Careers in the arts have a reputation for being harder than other careers, but I am not sure I believe that to be true. I think these careers are different in that you usually don’t have an employer, benefits, etc. You are hustling rather than working set hours for a regular paycheck. In my experience, people with self-discipline and drive create their own job security (in any field). Also, there’s a kind of competition in the arts that doesn’t exist in many other industries.

In terms of your education, my advice would be to finish high school. However, I’m not privy to the details of your circumstances. I just think there is a greater value in getting a diploma alongside your peers.

Nobody supports themselves on a degree. You can get a degree in astro-engineering and end up homeless. Success is the result of making smart choices, working hard, internal drive, external support system, and luck. You might find yourself eventually making a choice between living a more secure, conventional life and pursuing your dream of becoming a career writer. Sacrifice of one kind or another is inevitable.

My cousin has his undergrad degree in English and MFA (master’s in fine arts) in creative writing. He’s taught technical writing in college and now works at home as a contractor for corporate companies (tech writing.) He recently finished the first draft of his sci-fi novel by saving up and taking a few months off at a time. And, yes, he certainly is not a starving artist.

I am studying creative writing and education, both of which are terribly impractical, income-wise. But it’s possible to make a decent living if you’re passionate, dedicated and willing to take day jobs that you won’t necessarily enjoy.

See, I just don’t think these fields of study are impractical, especially studying education (we will always need teachers). With all the budget cuts, a career as a teacher might look improbable right now, but these cuts only apply to public schools. There are many other opportunities for teachers and places where their skills can be used.

Peter Minj

Thank’s Melissa for the encouragement.I will surely look into that.This blog page of yours is really helpful for all the aspiring writers.

Karolina

I read the article and I loved it. I am an aspiring author (Junior in highschool), and wish to one day publish a succesful fiction novel, like many others. I always knew I wanted to write, but I was told constantly that it would not suit for a career, and that healthcare and buissness were far better choices, money-wise. I am aware that sacrificing wealth over happiness is a nessecity in this pathway, but I am not so interested in wealth. My love for writing and spreading messages to inspire people, and even entertain is what I strive for. I realize it is hard to make a successful fiction novel. I will forever write them, but I need a job that will at least get me by. I’m not so sure which would be best for a fiction novelist. I was leaning more on article writing, but that is more technical, I believe. I was inspired by the coments and your responses. Recently, I firmly decided to go with creative writing, but the desicion to pick what to do is dificult. I will continue writing, and hopefully, I’ll make it one day. 😀

You sound like my kind of writer, Karolina.

I once heard someone say that money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy comfort. Well, many writers find comfort in the craft. I wish you the best.

Oliver JK Smith

Hi there guys! I’ve really enjoyed reading everyones opinions and experiences. I could really do with some advice of my own- I’ve always considered myself a creative soul; I’m a songwriter, have written screen plays and am currently working on my first novel. My major passion in life is professinal wrestling (eg.wwe), I currently write a wrestling blog and love the idea of one day writing creativtly for the tv shows. Having scouted my dream job with wwe, I learnt that they require applicants to have a ba degree in creative writing or a similar field aswell as experience in scriptwriting for tv. I am 22 yrs old and looking to settle down with my girlfriend however the idea of finally going to uni and gaining the skill set to at least improve my writing has big appeal. I realise my chances of ever workibg in such a niche field are slim and would settle for any work in which I could contribute to a creative process, but is uni with all its costs and time it takes to complete worth it?

I majored in creative writing in college, and I definitely think it’s worth the time and money, especially if you plan on a career in creative writing. If the job that you’ve got your eye on requires a BA, then you should certainly pursue it if you can. Dream big!

Lisa-Marie

This is a wonderful post and I thank you for it. I have been struggling over the last few years when it came to finally making a decision in regard to what I want to do with my life. This has definitely given me a few ideas and I will be getting the ball rolling as soon as I possibly can! :]

Thanks, Lisa-Marie. I’m glad you got some ideas out of this post, and I wish you the best of luck in your writing future!

Matt Thatcher

I recently just started a hobby of writing, they’re fictional based stories, but i was inspired by real events in my life & though the stories i write are fictional, they are realistic to a certain extent as well. Guess you could consider them historical fiction &/or drama & suspense stories. I’m kind of new at writing & i don’t know very many people that are well to do writters, so I’m kind of on my own. I was wondering if anyone had any ideas of where i should start?

There are plenty of writers on the internet, and you can easily connect with them. You can search for writers’ groups. Look for writers on social media. Start a blog. Writers love to discuss the craft and share information, and the web makes it easy. If you’d prefer to do something in person, check your local community college for creative writing classes and workshops or poke around and see if you can find a writer’s group that is accepting new members. Best of luck to you, Matt.

OK, thank you !!

You’re welcome.

Monica

Hello Melissa! Thanks for this list.. I’m an English major with a Creative Writing minor, and lately I have been struggling to make a decision about my future career(s). I write poetry but my main focus is writing fantasy/mystery fiction, and I’d like nothing better than to just write novels for the rest of my life. However, I know I may never be able to support myself by doing just this. I’ve been stressed out lately thinking what career I could get into, but technical writing doesn’t appeal to me and I don’t have a burning desire to teach. This list reminds me that I have more options than I thought!

That’s great, Monica! I too majored in creative writing (at my school, it was called a concentration). I’ve also found that most employers appreciate a worker who has strong writing skills. I got more than one promotion and/or raise because of my writing when I was an office worker! I wish you the best of luck!

Tim Socha

I have always aspired to become a published author, and now that I am in the last years of my life I find myself wanting to have a writing career more than ever. All my life I have worked hard to make a living to raise my family, the physical demands of my jobs have paid their toll on me, and I think it is about time I settled down and did something I could enjoy. I have always excelled in the creative arts, from writing to acting to art, but have never held a job in which I could use these talents. Following is a list of the creative writing jobs I could do from your list: Greeting Card Author, Advertising (Creative), Freelance Short Fiction Writer, Columnist, Video Game Writer (includes storytelling/fiction!), I would also like to get a few novels published. I can also draw just about anything-ultimately I would like to get my own stories published- with not only my creative writing, but my illustrations as well. I have written several books and have ideas for many more, but because I have to make a living I have been unable to get anything published because the cost is too much. In other words, because I have had to take physically demanding jobs that paid little wages I have never had the capitol to get started. I have sent out many submissions and have entered many contests, but made little ground in the creative field. I want to write, I’m good at it, and I just need to find a way to get my work noticed-this has been very difficult. I would merely like to make a living in something I’m good at and I have a driving desire to do. Is there any advice you can give me, or any contact information for agents and publishers who might be interested in helping out a new author?

Hi Tim. It sounds like you’re passionate about art and writing. I’m not sure how much you’ve submitted your work, but I would say keep at it. If you have a lot of completed material, you can polish it and just keep submitting it. Chances are that eventually, your work will be accepted. You might also want to start a website to build a readership and audience. A professionally designed site will be an expense, but you can start with a free platform like WordPress.com. You can use your site/blog to post your writing and your art. You can also self-publish and build your own readership. However, I would note that running your own website is time consuming, and there can be a lot to learn in terms of marketing, so you might want to pick up a couple of books or hire someone to help you with the process. I wish you the best of luck!

Ned-duh

Wow! Thank you so very much for creating this list! I actually haven’t really thought of doing some of the jobs listed on here. I’m only 20 years old and I’m finding it EXTREMELY hard to make it in the writing business! However, I am pursuing my dream and I am planning to do whatever it takes to make it. Thank you ever so much Melissa!

Many blessings to you,

Good luck to you, Nada!

I wish to be a writer some day.I am currently working in a IT company which offers a decent pay.But I have always loved writing since my school days even though I eventually graduated in Engineering.I want to make a career switch and pursue a career in writing.I now the pay is not that great in writing but then arts is always difficult.I want to take a shot at it and live my dream.I am very apprehensive about the future and don’t know how to tell it to my parents.I keep a blog for short-stories and poems.

Most writers start their careers while they have full-time jobs. You can definitely ease into a writing career. If you can get paid for a few freelance projects, get a blog and audience going, you’ll be able to lay a solid foundation for a future career. Best of luck to you!

Quadree Breeland

Hello, my name is quadree Breeland and I am a 19 year old college student in Delaware and I am looking to transfer to Columbia college in Chicago. I might not be the greatest writer but I love it. I have written 2 full short scripts. One is a police procedural and the serial killer who kills people with their own video games. Literally and the other is a thriller about a guy who quit the CIA because of problems with his father and a Russian terrorist comes back to try and kill him and anything around him. I love writing and I am very creative. My dream career is to write the dialogue, story, or the missions in video games. Basically, I wanna write for games. I know I won’t get a job like that as soon as I get out of college, but I have no problem applying for a job as a comic book writer, game or film reviewer, or writing for a web series. Im not really a novelist, but I wouldn’t mind taking a job like the ones I stated above when I graduate. I guess all I want is a reply with school advice and career advice. I am trying to find a good blog or site to post my stories at. I’m trying to find schools for me with film, or writing in the entertainment industry. I’m trying to find schools with dorms, clubs, and a good social life. You know, parties and stuff.

You have some great story ideas that would work well for scripts or video games. I would suggest that you try to find an internship with a company that produces video games. If you do that while you’re still in school, you’ll have a much better shot at landing a job in your chosen field when you graduate. Good luck to you!

Rachel

Blogging sounds interesting and fun, but I don’t know how to pinpoint a topic to dedicate a blog to! I’m not an expert at anything and don’t do much of a hobby that I think could carry out well as a blog. Any ideas, suggestions, etc?

Hi Rachel. You could always write a personal blog in which you share your personal stories, ideas, and experiences. You can also do a photo or art blog. You do need some central theme or topic to write around.

Katherine Hou

When I was purusing an art undergraduate degree in philosophy and graduated in 2009, I had no idea that a career in the liberal arts can be this tough. My hobby of writing has started upon graduation, and had been looking for work that can utilize my writing skills ever since.

I have seen job posts that requires a degree in journalism if were to pursue staff writer, but no mention of a degree in philosophy.

I came across your website and like what you blog about.

Thanks, Katherine. Yes, it’s tough to get these jobs, and many work best as second jobs or extra income. Part of what determines whether you can land these positions is your skill level. It’s all about practice and getting in those 10,000 hours. Keep at it!

J

I want to add Medical Writing/Editing to this list. Although some may think that it is not “creative writing”, it can be very creative depending on the type of medical writing that you do. Medical Regulatory writing is more factual, but consumer medical/health writing can give you the chance to be creative and factual at the same time. Medical Writers/Editors are paid very well ($45,000 to $100,000) and you do not have to be a medical professional to write about health topics.

Resources to learn more about medical writing:

American Medial Writing Association

Hi J. I appreciate that you mentioned medical writing, but when we differentiate between business, academic, and creative writing, medical writing definitely does not fall under the creative category. It is a form of scientific writing. Copywriting (what I do) requires a lot of creativity but it’s still not creative writing; it’s a form of business writing. However, I’m glad you mentioned it, because for creative writers, there are a lot of opportunities in the field of business, scientific, and technical writing. While some of these careers may require education in their respective fields (and some may not), they are industries where one can make a good living as a writer.

Creating Writing high school freshman

Thank you SO MUCH for creating this article!

Leonora

But isn’t making a career in writing only just … too dangerous. Because I’ve always wanted to be a novelist but I also want to make a (possible) career in the medical department. So I was thinking isn’t having a “back-up” plan better? And if so does it have to be from the same branch?

I wouldn’t call creative writing a dangerous career choice. There’s no reason you can’t study medicine and write. You could even be a medical writer. You might look into majoring in medicine and minoring in English. There’s nothing wrong with having a back-up plan, and no, it doesn’t have to be in the same discipline.

Julie

Thank you, Melissa, for this wonderful post. I have a BA in Creative Writing and really wish I had done more during uni to try out different writing careers, as internships seem extremely hard to come by for graduates. Any words of wisdom on how a graduate might gain professional experience in a particular writing field, short of going back to school?

Well it depends on which writing field — fiction, poetry, journalism? One thing you can do is submit your work to professional magazines and journals and build up your writing credits. You have a blog (that would have been my next suggestion). Get your work out there; that’s the best way gain experience.

I would really like to try my hand at journalism, but I’m starting to think the only way to do that (as a graduate without experience in the field) is to offer my services for free. But I also like your suggestion about submitting to magazines. I once read “Do good work. Then put it where people can see it.” Exposure is definitely something I need to work on! Thank you again.

Thanks, Julie. Writing is one of those careers where you may have to do some free work or take an internship to prove yourself before landing a paid gig. Musicians have to do the same thing. They play for free (or for pennies) — sometimes for years — before they start getting paid. Submitting to magazines is a great way to get experience and get paid since they often buy articles based on merit. Good luck to you, and keep writing!

AT

Thank you so much for making this website, and I can see that you are very dedicated to helping people pursue a writing career. I’m a junior in highschool, and I have considered many careers, but whenever I thought i knew what I wanted to do, deep down I knew it wasn’t. I finally figured out why I’ve been unable to pick a career, and it’s because I absolutely love to write. I would write all day, everyday if I could. I just thought that writing was a hobby, and I couldn’t make a career out of it. I now know that I can make a career out of writing, and this is what I wish to pursue in college. Only problem is that my parents want me to be a doctor or something, but this doesn’t interest them. All they care about is me making enough money, but I feel that money isn’t everything, and I would rather do what I love, and be happy. I have faith in myself, that someday I can be a sucessful writer. I just wish my parents could see that this is what I love to do. By reading all your posts on this website, it has really helped brighten my day, and it has shown me that I’m not alone, and that I can do what I love, if I have faith in myself. thank you

You’re welcome! I’m glad you found strength and inspiration here, and I wish you the best of luck with all your writing and education. Keep writing, no matter what!

Jane Kashtel

“Now, I’m not saying you’re going to make a whole lot to live on with some of these creative writing jobs but if you do what you love, the money (i.e. the success) just might follow.”

Therein lies the problem with this article. That’s not how writing works; “success” is not synonymous with “the money.” The vast majority of novelists could not live completely off their book sales, and I can think of no short fiction writers who could make that claim. Don’t even get me started on poets; getting published in the most highly regarded journals in the country leads neither to fame nor fortune. 

Writing isn’t accountancy or business management. You don’t get into creative writing to fulfill some sort of career desire. You do it because you feel compelled to write, because you have something to say. It is the effective communication of the idea that defines success, not the money attached. 

The problem with your comment, Jane, is that is disregards the title of the post that it criticizes. Young and new writers often ask me about whether they can make a career out of creative writing. This article answers the question can I make a living doing what I love (writing)? You may feel there’s something wrong with that, but I don’t. In fact, I admire people who pursue their passions and attempt to turn them into viable careers. People do need to eat.

“You don’t get into creative writing to fulfill some sort of career desire. You do it because you feel compelled to write, because you have something to say. It is the effective communication of the idea that defines success, not the money attached.”

I don’t think anyone has the right to tell other people why they should write or how they should define success. You and I come from a similar place since these ideas reflect my own personal feelings about writing, but I would never tell someone else what constitutes a valid reason for writing or how they should define their own success. There are, indeed, people who get into writing to fulfill a career desire and who define success by how much money they make.

“The problem with your comment, Jane, is that is disregards the title of the post that it criticizes.”

It does indeed, because it’s a faulty premise. Let’s look at your list: there are very, very few novelists who are able to live completely off their royalties, and I don’t know of any short fiction writer anywhere who could make that claim. As for “personal poet,” even professional poets who win the country’s best prizes don’t “make a living” from their poetry sales. Calling these “careers” would be misleading.

But notice how many novels, shorts stories and poems get published every year. My point was that writing is a field not exclusive to professionals. Anyone can write a novel with the possibility of publishing, but it is disingenuous to call this a “career” when it’s not a main source of income for most.

“There are, indeed, people who get into writing to fulfill a career desire and who define success by how much money they make.”

Writing is not economics or finance, it’s a process of communication. Using this communication tool as a money-making strategy would involve telling people what they want to hear. There are descriptions reserved for those who only tell others what they want to hear.

Jane, you seem to be more interested in looking for minute points to argue rather than grasping the full intent of this post. There are plenty of novelists and other creative writers who have built full-time and part-time careers with their work. I happen to know “personal poets” who subsidize their income by writing personal poetry. Might I suggest that you open your mind to the possibility that the people you know and experiences you’ve had are not definitive? You are merely presenting your opinions and personal experiences as facts, and they are not facts.

I don’t care if a writer’s work is a main source of income, a part-time source of income, or if it doesn’t lead to any income at all. My job here is to encourage writers to pursue their dreams and that includes trying to make a career out of their writing, if that is what they want to do. I never said that writing is economics or finance. I said that some writers get into it as a career (James Patterson is an example — he himself says he’s a better marketer than writer). If you think such people are hacks or sellouts, then that is your opinion. I have my own opinions about it, but I don’t go around publicly judging other writers because I have not walked in their shoes. I do not know what is in their hearts. And neither do you.

“Using this communication tool as a money-making strategy would involve telling people what they want to hear. There are descriptions reserved for those who only tell others what they want to hear.”

There are also descriptions reserved for people who go around the internet stirring up malicious arguments and for people who lack manners. I neither appreciate nor welcome your insinuations. Such insults, however cloaked in wit, will only get you banned from commenting here. I built Writing Forward to be a positive, uplifting space for writers to explore their craft. It’s a shame that you’re so pessimistic about other people’s potential and what is possible for aspiring writers.

Yuly

Thank you for your ideas in writing career paths, it gives me some things to think about. As a child and in my teen years I used to write short stories. However, as an adult I have lost that creative side and find that I am empty and in need to be creative. I have considered pursuing a MA in creative writing with hopes that I can find that creative side of again. I feel, however that spending the time and money on this degree may not deem worthy because it is incredibly difficult to obtain a job that pays well enough to keep the bills paid. Do you have any suggestions?

Yuly, I don’t think anyone can tell you whether it would be best for you to pursue writing on your own or to get an MA. If you are disciplined, I think you can do it on your own. If you need a lot of direction, guidance, and support, then an MA program might be better for you. Either way, you can pick up plenty of books to inspire you. When I’m uninspired and need to get more creative, I usually go through creative writing exercises and prompts, which always get my ideas flowing again. Good luck to you!

Molly Kluever

I’m in the 8th grade, and it seems that whenever something is needed, such as a testimony of my school, a farewell speech for a retiring teacher, or a greeting at an event, my name always seems to come up. Then I get a phone call, saying what is needed and the deadline. I’m glad to do it, and obviously I don’t charge anything. However, if adults always think of me, a kid, when they need something written, surely other people will do the same when I’m older. Is my reasoning off, or is that a possible job opportunity?

If the school is calling on you for writing, then that is certainly a testament to your writing abilities. It’s a good indicator that you are a talented writer, and yes, I would say that if you enjoy writing, these are all signs that writing might be a good career option for you.

Hadassa

I just completed my engineering(Civil Engineering). I have absolutely no aptitude for that subject. I did it due to pressure from family. Now, its my career. My life. I feel its high time I take a stand. I have great passion towards writing. I have thereby, developed decent writing skills. So, I would like to pursue a career in the same. Right now, I need some place to start and venture into the world of writing. That’s exactly where I need help!

I have to admit that I honestly don’t understand why some families pressure kids to pursue one particular career. I guess I can empathize when it’s a family tradition (five generations of doctors or something like that) but I can’t get behind it at all. I think each person should pursue what’s in his or her heart. Do what you love!

Ashley

What if their not sure what they want to do or where their passion lies? What should they do?

Every person has to find his or her own path. If I wasn’t sure about my passion, I’d try lots of different things until I found it.

martha

I agree. Kids should decide for themselves. And where are the guidance counselors in all this?

Maybe some schools don’t have guidance counselors or the kids simply aren’t going to see them.

Kevin

I’ve experinced the delima’s first hand similar to you,concerning family and friend’s who where great math major’s but couldn’t get through college without the English major’s writing their paper’s?I was the English major who didn’t even finish my assocites in literature because I couldn’t do Algebra.Yet my god given passion is english and the art’s ,and especially writing.All I can say is ,especially in are high tech world today,pursue what your gifted at,and if it’s writing ,do what your heart’s telling you,don’t be like so many and waite till your 50ty,you can still do it,don’t let friend’s and family say different,one dedicated art person that does give a dam.

There is a lot to learn by getting a degree, so I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t finish your associate’s in literature. However, there is a lot you can learn about the craft by simply reading and studying on your own. With or without a formal education, it takes a lot of work to make it as a writer. Good luck to you.

I’m a college student and I need some advice for a journalism career career. I love the entertainment industry as a whole. Video Games, movies, tv shows, celebrities, and music. I am currently in school for journalism and I just need help what kind of journalist I should be. I’ve already looked into entertainemt journalism and I live that. Writing articles/pieces about the entertainment industry looks like an awesome job. But what do entertainment journalists focus on. Do they just focus on being on the red carpet all the time or writing articles about celebrities all day? Do entertainemt journalists write articles about Video games, movies, tv shows, music, and other celebrity stuff. Should I become a freelance journalist? I guess my dream job is to write articles or do reports for ign in New York or another entertainment company with an office. Maybe a staff position?

Or maybe I should try games journalism? But dont entertainment journalist write about video games too? I’m a gamer and I would love to write about the newest games or movies coming out or do reviews.

I’m not an entertainment journalist (or a journalist for that matter), so I cannot give you career advice, but you might try reaching out to an entertainment journalist who can answer some of these questions for you. Good luck!

Stephanie

I am currently studying for a PhD in Creative Writing and I have to say that this is one of the most accurate lists I came across. What is good for aspiring writers to keep in mind, especially those with CW degrees, is that writing is a craft. It’s very practical, so unlike history, philosophy or literature degrees a writer has transferable skills. If you are a writer looking to make some money while writing a novel or a collection, you can offer editing and proofreading services. Becoming a content writer is a profitable pathway as well. A lot of companies look for skilled writers to produce their online articles and they usually pay well. And for the more daring, there is online publishing. Is not a guaranteed route but it gives you a boost of confidence; no matter how much you make, it’s good to know that somebody paid to read your work.

Thanks, Stephanie. I’ve taken the online and self-publishing route and haven’t looked back.

Matt

Just a little quibble: A history degree does produce transferable skills related to research and analysis, writing, word processing, etc.. It’s not “just learning names and dates.” 😀

Christina

Thinking about chaning careers. Although I got my B.G.S – General Studies and and a Masters in Management – I took a lot of creative wirting classes in college and it is something that I think I could be good at. This might be a good place to get some ideas on getting started. Thanks!

You’re welcome, and good luck to you!

vivek

i am doing engineering first year..i took the decision as i have always been quite good at maths and stuff..but i started writing last year simply for the passion that was ignited by some great novels and i am totally a novice in it..yet i like it a lot. So right now i am in a dilemma which career path i should take…one thats based on my interest but im not so good at(writing).. or the one in which i am good at(maths,science)??

I think most young people struggle with this same dilemma. Unfortunately, nobody can tell you which life path is best for you. You must find that answer within yourself. I do think that you can pursue both science and writing (you could, for example, become a science writer). You can also study writing and become better at it. It’s up to you.

I want to get into freelance writing in the entertainment industry. I love writing and I’ve looked into copywritimg and story producing. Any advice or any writing careers I should take on?

The best advice I can give you is to study writing and the entertainment industry. If you want to write entertainment news, you might want to major in journalism at a university. For screenwriting, you can major in film studies at many universities. Get to know the industry and keep working on improving your writing. There are also tons of resources you can get if you don’t go to university. Start with the “Writing Resources” section here at Writing Forward, then head to your favorite bookstore and search for books on your field of interest. Good luck!

mari

wow! you guys really love writing. Me too but I’m taking up pre dentistry right now but i really love writing much more. Actually i just wanna try this course but i think i’m not gonna continue because writing is really my passion and i’d love to pursue it. my parents don’t know any of this yet and i’m planning to tell them..any advice for me guys? thanks to whoever answers this.. 🙂

One thing to keep in mind is that you can study dentistry and writing. You can choose writing courses for your electives and set aside a little time each day for your writing. As far as changing your studies, I believe that each individual has to find his or her own path. Once you find your path, I think you should follow it, because I believe one of the worst fates is a life of regret. Hopefully, the people in your life will be supportive, although unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Ultimately, only you can make this decision. It is a big one. Take your time to think about it. Consider talking to a career counselor, who should be open-minded and objective.

Alyssa

Okay, so I’ve been thinking about the popular question, “what do I want to be when I grow up?”. Writing has been my passion for as long as I can remember, and I LOVE books. Seriously. If I wasn’t on a competitive, year-round swim team, I could read all day. I have been thinking about jobs that circle around the actual “writing” idea, if you know what I mean. I’ve considered being an editor, since I love books, but I’m not quite sure what an editor does. Any ideas?

Editors do some writing but their main function is to make editorial decisions. Their duties vary depending on where they work. A magazine editor, for example, decides which stories go into each issue, which one gets the cover spot, and will also assign articles to the writers. An editor at a publishing house makes decisions about which books to publish. Editors also actually edit, meaning they review the writers’ work and make changes to improve it. I don’t know for sure, but I would think (hope) that someone would start out as a writer before becoming an editor. I suggest using Google to learn more about different careers for editors.

Philip

First of all, thank you for this post and all your replies. It’s very good of you to reply to everyone who needs direction. So, my dilemma is that I will be commencing my masters degree in September and lately I’ve been thinking of pursuing a creative writing masters instead.

I’ve just finished my undergraduate degree in communications and I was deputy editor and features editor of the monthly university arts magazine, which I absolutely loved and learned so much through. My undergraduate thesis was in the form of a creative writing novella, which was roughly 18,000 words. I had always wanted to try my hand at fiction writing and by completing the thesis I became fully aware how much I enjoyed it. I also received very positive feedback from lecturers.

Once I finished my undergraduate degree, I applied for and received a place on a masters in public relations, which I think I would enjoy as it’s media related. However, as mentioned, I’ve been seriously considering giving up the PR masters and applying for the creative writing one instead. My issue is that I am torn between a course that’s practical and could very well lead to a successful career, and a prestigious CW course that I’m highly interested in but may be quite impractical in the long run. I have this dream of travelling and writing novels (long shot I know) and a CW masters could help me bring my writing skills and ideas to the next level. So, I guess I’m asking if you think a CW masters is necessary in becoming an author?

And what would your opinion be on switching courses into CW or staying with the original choice? Would it be more wise to stick with PR (which I’m currently interning in) and try do some writing on the side? My only problem is, with writing I feel I need guidance, direction and deadlines. I may find it hard to do it on the side, especially when the majority of my energy would be going elsewhere.

Any info/advice would be great 🙂 And sorry for the long post.

No, you definitely do not need a CW masters to become an author. My guess is that most published authors don’t have masters. I once heard a bit of advice from an author (can’t remember who) that I thought was sound. She said if you’re self-driven and will do your writing and study the craft on your own, then you don’t need a masters. One of the benefits of a masters program is that it forces you to write and learn. If you do that on your own, you don’t really need the coursework (unless you want it for prestige). Having said that, my guess is that there is value in a masters program, in being immersed in writing and literature and surrounded with other writers, even for those who are self-driven.

Nobody can tell you what to study. It’s a classic dilemma: follow your dreams or do the “smart thing.” Only you know what is the right path for you.

Danny

I just graduated with a BA in creative writing about 5 months ago, and I’ve been applying for jobs in the creative field like crazy. I’ve applied for practically every advertising firm in the Chicago area and I’ve heard back from two of them. I don’t know if it’s because I lack experience, or the economy is just that bad. I’ve tried applying for jobs out of my field, but it’s still no dice. I hope I can find something extremely soon, as I’m near desperation at this point. I really hope there’s hope, so I don’t regret getting a BA in creative writing : (.

I held office jobs for several years after earning my BA in creative writing. Since I had a degree in English, my employers often gave me writing assignments (including editing and proofreading), which helped me build my experience. It doesn’t happen overnight. Get a job to pay the bills and keep writing. Eventually, you’ll find your path. Good luck!

Xinyiteoh

Erm hello Melissa.. I actually want to do Creative Writing since I love writing, but I also want to do History since I love both. However my parents object to both and want me to pursue some medical degree or something. Can you erm like give me some points to argue my pitiful cause since I don’t really think I’m into doctoring since I’ve got a slight phobia of blood and ever since Biology dissecting stuff had never exactly been my thing?? I hope it’s not too much to ask.. thanks in advance

I am just going to be straightforward about this, because I get a lot of emails and comments from young people like yourself whose parents are pressuring them into some career they abhor. I believe that each of us knows in our hearts who we are and what we want to do with our lives. If you have a phobia of blood, then it’s blatantly obvious that a career in medicine would be completely inappropriate for you. Now, if you had that phobia but desperately wanted to be a doctor, I would encourage you to get over it. But since that’s not what you want, why should you torment yourself? I understand why some parents advocate certain careers for their kids – they associate success with money and prestige. I do not. I equate success with happiness. And I believe that once we become adults, it is our own responsibility to find our happiness. So, once you are an adult, it’s up to you to find your path and follow it. Do what you love.

Darren

What is the difference between journalism and creative writing? I am still not very sure even after researching on the net. I have a dilemma on which course to take. I want to be a novelist but that might take years to complete a book. So, what my mother advised is that I should get a stable job that ensures my survival while I work on the book first. Which one should I do?

Journalism can fall under creative writing. For example, if you wrote a literary nonfiction book on a specific person or subject, it could be both journalism and creative nonfiction. Journalism is one of those forms that has become a bit gray. Originally, journalism meant reporting on the facts, objectively. Nowadays, a lot of journalism is heavily colored by the author’s personal views and ideologies. A novel is creative writing and not journalism at all; it is fiction where journalism is fact-based.

I think getting a stable job while writing your first book is a pretty smart way to go. Do you even have a choice? I mean, unless someone is willing to support you while you write your book, you’re going to need a job to pay the bills.

Erica Barrus

I have always had a passion for writing, but never had confidence to let anyone read any of my work. I do not have a fancy education, but I do have an amazing imagination! The work I did when I was younger my mom found and was amazed by my story. I do enjoy wrting poetry and short stories. During the development of my son, I wrote in my journal Letters to Baby. As the pregnancy developed things were less than peferct and not very positive. I stopped writing my Letter’s to Baby because it was sad things written. I only wanted my child to know he was loved from day one no matter where life took us. The baby is now 10 yrs old and so much has inspired me to write again. I started a story that I hold dear to my heart and I am super excited about it. I dont expect publishing ever, but I would like to get an outside opinion from someone in the industry that could give me tips and tools to help my creativity develope. I also would like to know some avenues I can go down to continue writing for fun and just to get things out of my mind. I am sure it is hard to make a living writing, but if I can make a little something to put away for a rainy day that would be great! Any help and suggestions would be greatly appreciated!! Thanks!!

I would actually recommend that you take a creative writing class or workshop. An in-person one would be best, but if you’re too busy, try to find an online course (community colleges are great for this). This is an ideal way to connect with other writers while getting mentoring from someone who is experienced (the teacher), and you’ll find that many other writers share your insecurities. Make sure you vet the class first to make sure it’s credible. You might also want to research the instructor a little.

Another option would be to find a local writing group, but that may be more challenging since writing groups often arise out of established relationships. However, there are some open writing groups, especially online and in larger cities.

Your first hurdle will be to work on your confidence and worry more about strengthening your work than what other people think. Everybody starts somewhere. As long as you’re willing to work at it and improve your skills, it does not matter where you are now with your writing.

Thomas Thyros

I am a discouraged writer in need of some information. I have been writing for a little over a year and I have had some success. I have been nationally published, being a staff member on one magazine start-up, an editor-in-chief of one failed start-up magazine, and I am a staff member for an online magazine for which I publish an article every three months. I have also been published on a few other informational websites. Additionally, I have ghost written close to 200 articles on a low paying website.

The problem I have faced (which has caused me to stop writing now for several months) is the total lack of pay I have received for my efforts. So many will ask you to write; however, they do not want to pay a reasonable rate for your craft. This is the only problem that I face as per my writing. I thoroughly enjoy writing, but I cannot continue to write for such low pay. Any tips, advice, what have you, would be appreciated. Otherwise, I will have to give up writing and move on to something else. Thanks.

I had the same problem when I first started freelancing. Then I realized that the reason I was getting low paying gigs was because I was accepting low paying gigs. The better paying jobs are harder to find, and in my case, I started my own website and business to attract clients and set my own rates. This involved a lot of marketing to get my own clients, and they are business people rather than content farms. However, there is a caveat: the writing must be at a professional level to warrant higher rates.

Hello Melissa,

Thanks for responding. I haven’t accepted a low paying writing job in some time now, nor have I used any content farms. I can market well as I am a singer songwriter, and I have made good progress with it in that realm. My writing is always professional and of the jobs I have found they have paid well. However, it seems as though it is near impossible to find enough well paying writing jobs to make ends meet. Anyway, again, thanks for responding and for your suggestions. Best of luck to you.

I wish I had some solid advice to give you, but I don’t know enough about your business and marketing strategies. There are plenty of self-employed and freelance content writers out there. I’m sure a lot of them struggle to make ends meet, but plenty of them have found considerable success. When I first started, I did my best to seek out successful writers and examine their approaches so I could learn from them. Getting your own website and operating as a business (or professional consultant) makes a huge difference.

Matthew Eaton

I was just having this discussion with a friend a while back about how people get locked into three options when they write and that’s it. There are so many other opportunities out there if you know where to look for them. You just have to be open and aware of what is really out there.

Thanks for sharing this, I am glad this came along at the right time. Maybe I’ll send this over her way today!

You’re welcome! I’m glad you found this article helpful, Matthew.

Lyric

I saved this article months ago when I was in a funk, but I forgot to read it afterwards. Reading it now has made me think. Looking back at it, I’ve been writing for many years, ever since I was 13, and I’m 23 now. I’ve went to college twice, graduated both times successfully, but throughout that time I stopped writing fiction. I kept my ideas, but I never finished the stories.

I haven’t been lucky in finding a job ever since I graduated and the ones I did find were still out of reach, I went back to my writing because I needed to do something. Anything to get my mind clear and my thoughts straight like I used to because I became frustrated with myself. When I decided to go to college I had clear plans, but once I finished things didn’t go my way and I realized that I already had something that I should have never let go, my writing. Now I’m looking into finishing my ideas and self-publishing them. I’m glad I came back to this article and read it thoroughly this time.

I’m motivated now more than ever to focus on my true calling. It may be tough, but it’s the only thing I have ever done that made me truly happy even when things around me weren’t good. I think I’m gonna try writing my ideas separately in the form of a series of short stories/chapters/volumes since I’m not good at writing long works of fiction. Is there any advice that you can give me? I would love to write a story for a webtoon, but I’m not that good at drawing and I don’t know how to ask an artist for help.

Hi Lyric. Many of us take time off from writing. Sometimes it’s because we’re busy with a new job. Other times family obligations keep us from our writing. Occasionally it’s some other hobby. Thankfully, writing is always here for us, and we can return to it any time. I’m glad you did.

Madonna Weaver

Its so good to read through the interests in writing and thank you for the informative comments. I have self published a poetry book that people can use in their cards, tributes. on blurb.com called Handy Verse for Occasions with a possum on the front. I am working on my children’s stories and acitivities and will self publish in September this year. and I am blogging the challenge on madonnamm7.wordpress.com I had written the stories many years ago and did not have as much motivation and my husband encouraged me and I was inspired by the movie Julie and Julia (Meryl Streep) and started the year challenge.

Regards Madonna Weaver

That’s wonderful! I love the title Handy Verse for Occasions .

Sam

I have the most obscured dreams. I’d love to print a book with short stories of them. How may I accomplish that?

You might want to look into self-publishing through KDP or CreateSpace. Good luck!

Andy Li

I knew I wanted to write since I found out I like putting thoughts and ideas on paper. I kinda have it down, but I am struggling. Putting your thoughts and ideas is not easy as it looks, but that won’t stop me. I’m writing a book, but I just can’t seem to get past the first 10 paragraph. How do I focus my intent?

A lot of writers struggle with discipline. We get stuck and wander away from a project, we get lured away by some other idea, or life just gets in the way. The only way to focus…is to focus. Force yourself to do the work. I’ve known a lot of writers who got good results by adding writing to their daily schedule. Every day, at the same time, you sit down, and that’s your writing time. It could be twenty minutes or it could be two hours. And you do the work.

Graeme Watson

Thanks for the ideas. Given the current pandemic, being creative is something I need to look at more to try and get some additional income. Have published one collection of short stories but needing to do more.

You’re welcome, and good luck with your creative efforts!

In the past I have self published a poetry book people can put in their cards etc and also a book of children’s stories with Activities through Blurb.com I am writing a novel based on truth now. All the best to everyone in their writing. Regards Madonna Weaver

Thanks for sharing some of the opportunities you’ve carved out for yourself. These are great!

Iwan Ross

I have a creative writing career that I would like to add to your list. What about a Technical Writer? We have two technical writers employed in our company and I chat with them on a daily basis. It is a great job with above-average earning potential. Thanks for allowing me to post here.

That’s a great writing job, but it’s technical, not creative. Creative writing encompasses fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. Great career though!

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Last updated on Aug 13, 2021

20 Creative Writing Jobs for Graduates (+ Entry-Level Positions)

Being passionate about creative writing hasn’t always been associated with a stable career path, but that’s not to say that there aren’t any opportunities out there to bring well-written stories into your job. In fact, we’re here to talk about 20 different creative writing jobs — 20 professions that let the storyteller in you shine! We’ll discuss the industries, entry level jobs, and potential income for each job below. 

When it comes to creative writing, the first thing that pops up in our mind is books! While writing is the obvious option (and we’ll cover that later on in the post), most writers choose to work in one of the following positions in the publishing industry to gain financial stability first. 

❗ Note: The “per book” rates below are made with 50,000-60,000 word manuscripts in mind. 

1. Ghostwriter 

👨🏽‍💼 Entry level positions: freelance writer, ghostwriter, editorial assistant 

💰 Potential beginner’s earning: $2,000-$9,000 per book or $0.10-$0.15 per word

If you’re all about creative writing but you’d prefer an upfront payment for your words, then ghostwriting is the job for you! Here’s how it works: an author hires you to help them write their story. It could (and usually is) a memoir or an autobiography which the author doesn't have the time or skills to write themselves. Fiction authors also sometimes use ghostwriters to help them write sequels and satisfy popular demands. 

Ghostwriters are freelancers, so you can start by getting some freelance writing gigs. As a beginner, you might start with short-form projects like articles, white papers, website content. Here are some resources, complete with tips from experienced professionals, that might be helpful:

  • How to Become a Ghostwriter in 6 Essential Steps (+ Tips from Professionals) 
  • How to Start Freelance Writing: 5 Steps to a Soaring Career
  • How Much Do Ghostwriters Make: The Ultimate Breakdown

👩🏻‍💼 Entry level positions: editorial assistant

💰 Potential beginner’s earning: $25,000-$30,000 per year or $800-$1,000 per book

Writing is actually not all there is to creative writing jobs — if you really love stories and are always finding ways to make a story better, then editing is a suitable profession for you. There are many types of editors: some (like development editors) work more on the plot and theme of the book, and others (like copy editors ) specialize on its language and style. 

Editorial assistant jobs are the common first steps to this career path. Entry-level positions are quite competitive in publishing, so you’ll likely need a relevant degree (English Literature, MFA, etc.) to get the job. 

Freelancing, as always, is an option, but it can be quite difficult to get clients if you start without any editing experience. Oftentimes, editors start working in-house and later transition to freelance . 

Below are some more resources for you if you want to pursue this career path:

  • How to Become an Editor: A Guide for Beginners
  • Copyediting Certificates: Do You Need One and Where to Get It?
  • Editor Salary: Can Your Skills Pay the Bills
  • Working in Publishing: An Insider's Guide

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3. Proofreader

👨🏼‍💼 Entry level positions: freelance proofreader

💰 Potential beginner’s earning: $20-$30 per hour or $550-$650 per book 

Proofreading comes after editing — the proofreader reads the manuscript one final time, after all the revisions are made, to see if any spelling and grammatical errors are missed out. They’re incredibly crucial to the production of a spotless book, so there’s never a shortage of proofreading jobs . 

This task is often done on a freelance basis, either by full-time freelancers or by editors who want to take on side jobs. You can specialize in proofreading alone, though most professionals will combine editing and proofreading crafts for better income. As a beginner, opportunities for short-form projects will often be more accessible — stay open-minded about taking them up, but also do some proofreading training to prepare for more exciting gigs. 

We’ve also got some resources for this topic for you to check out:

  • How to Become a Proofreader: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide
  • How to Choose Your Proofreading Rates

There’s more to journalism than just breaking news on CNN, which means there’s plenty of space for the creative writer in you to flourish in this industry! Let’s take a look at a couple of options you can consider. 

4. Columnist 

👩🏽‍💼 Entry level positions: fellowships, junior writer/columnist, freelance writer

💰 Potential beginner’s earning: $25,000-$35,000 per year or $100-$300 per piece 

If you like creative nonfiction , you probably have already considered becoming a columnist. In fact, you can even be a books columnist! Job options range from book-specific sites like Electric Literature or Literary Hub, to prestigious newspapers like The Guardian or The New Yorker. But that’s not necessarily the only thing you can write about! You can become a columnist in just about any topic, from social issues to entertainment, as long as you’re interested in the niche. 

Look out for fellowships and junior writing jobs in newspapers and magazines and get ready to apply! A degree in relevant subjects like Journalism or English Literature is a great advantage, though your ability to follow up on leads, conduct thorough research, and keep up with the latest trends in a certain niche will be carefully assessed. You can also be a contributing writer first to forge a relationship with the editors before going after a full-time position. 

👨🏻‍💼 Entry level positions: junior writer, freelance writer

There’s a fine line between a critic and a columnist: critics are usually more academically inclined, and they often work more on the arts than columnists. Columnists cover social issues, sports, entertainment in their more general sense, while critics while home in on a particular piece of art, literature, theatre, or movie to offer expert assessment of it. 

Similar to the columnists, you can begin with junior writing positions and freelance gigs, in which you build up a writing portfolio of relevant work. Ideally, critics will be more savvy to the technicalities of whatever subject you critique — be it filmography or literature. In other words, formal training like a bachelor’s degree is a good launch pad. 

6. News journalist 

👩🏼‍💼 Entry level positions: staff writer/journalist

💰 Potential beginner’s earning: $30,000-$35,000 per year 

Writing news articles is different from the writing column pieces: a journalist must maintain an impartial voice and be succinct. Moreover, you’re always looking out for the latest story, whether on social media or on the street (which is where your love for creative writing can come in). 

The most common way to get into news journalism is to get a salaried position. You can also apply to internships as well, and there are compensated ones to look out for. What you will need is a degree and some journalist training so that you can use shorthand, know what makes a good story, and know what sources to chase, among other things. 

7. Investigative journalist 

👨🏽‍💼 Entry level positions: staff writer/journalist

And what if you’re a fan of true crime ? You might find yourself drawn to investigative journalism! You can chase the tail of anything under the sun, from kidnappings to factory production, from local to international events, so long as there’s an uncovered story there. The topic will often be assigned to you by an editor, and you’ll be given some time to collect information and write the article. It’s a slower pace than daily news, but it’s thrilling nonetheless. 

Similar to the news path, you’ll likely start off with an internship or a junior writing position. With this job opportunity, you can build a portfolio that demonstrates your ability to peel back the layers of the onion to reveal new insights to a matter. Again, a degree and training in journalism are essential. 

Copywriting

Copywriting is writing to sell a product or service, and it could be anything from newsletter emails to slogans to even commercial scripts! There’s definitely a creative element to it, as you’re always looking for a unique and memorable way to capture the attention of consumers. And since it's so rooted in consumption culture, copywriting is definitely a writing career that's in demand!

Below are several types of copywriting jobs you can go into. 

8. Technical copywriter

👩🏻‍💼 Entry level positions: technical writer, freelance writer

💰 Potential beginner’s earning: $32,000-$38,000 per year 

A technical writer works on instructional materials for manuals, white papers, and other informative pieces of writing. A technical copywriter combines that level of specialty with marketing tactics, thereby focusing on promoting products and services that are a bit more, well, technical. Think electronic companies, software developers, repair and maintenance services. 

Ideally, you’d have some education or experience in technical sectors (i.e. IT, engineering, finance). That way, you won’t take too much time to familiarize yourself with the jargon, and employers are more likely to hire you. You can also begin with technical writing, if you don’t mind working on material that’s a bit less creative. 

9. Advertising copywriter

👨🏼‍💼 Entry level positions: junior copywriter, communications copywriter

For a more creative writing job, you can go for advertising. This often involves a lot of brainstorming with the creative team of your agency to come up with advertisement campaigns that will leave a mark. When working on this you can write all kinds of content, from slogans to image copies to web content. 

Having a bachelor’s degree in marketing or an essay-based discipline is usually beneficial if you’re looking for this kind of job. You can work for a big brand, which will constantly be needing new content, or you can work for a marketing agency, tailoring your work to every client. 

10. PR copywriter

👩🏽‍💼 Entry level positions: junior copywriter

Public relations (PR) is, simply put, the art of building a good reputation, whether that’s for an individual or a brand. You’ll work on press releases, report and presentation writing, material for internal and external communications to present your client’s motivation and direction. 

For this kind of job, the precision of your language and your ability to stay up to date with the competitors will be important. A degree in communications or business administration are a plus point. And as is often the case in most writing jobs, the ability to find the human story behind everything will be your best tool. 

Content Marketing

Nowadays, traditional marketing on TV, billboards, and posters are only a part of the industry, the other is all about online content. And with so many things zooming about on the Internet, every company will be looking for the most creative person to help them stand out. Which means you get plenty of opportunities to be imaginative, working on website content, blog posts, social media posts, and even videos.

11. Social media manager 

👨🏻‍💼 Entry level positions: assistant/junior/freelance social media specialist

💰 Potential beginner’s earning: $20-$30 per hour or $30,000-$35,000 per year 

With our evermore online world, social media-related jobs definitely is a writing career that's in demand. So many things can happen on social media — you might very well go viral overnight! The challenge is getting there. As a social media manager, you get to be the voice of the company, interacting with customers in a friendly, casual way, while also learning their habits and preferences so that you and others on your team can better engage with them. 

This is a relatively hands-on job, so experience running a public social media account is the best thing you can have on your CV. A degree in communications can be beneficial, though many job postings don’t require anything specific.

12. Blogger

👩🏼‍💼 Entry level positions: blogger, freelance writer

💰 Potential beginner’s earning: $0.10-$0.15 per word

Blogging is probably something you’re familiar with as a writer — but do you know it can earn you a good penny? By focusing on a specific subject (it can be books , technology, fashion, the freelance life, etc.), you can attract companies who are looking to strengthen their brand awareness and will sponsor you. It’ll take time to build an attractive platform, but it’s definitely possible. 

Beyond that, you can write for others as well. There are plenty of websites that promote creative writing jobs all over, so you can sift through them for the suitable ones. No degree requirements for this job, just your skill with a (proverbial) quill! 

13. Content creator 

👨🏽‍💼 Entry level positions: content marketer

💰 Potential beginner’s earning: $27,000-$34,000 per year 

If you’re happy to do a bit of everything, then apply to become a content creator. You’ll also get to collaborate with a team to come up with an overall strategy in this position.

You can work for all kinds of companies in this career. A bachelor’s degree in Marketing, English, Communications are highly relevant, though adjacent, essay-based subjects tend to do the job, too. Brushing up on search engine optimization (SEO) is also wise. 

Pop culture, the latest rumors and gossip, interesting observations served on a pretty platter — if any of that sounds interesting to you, you can jump into the media industry. Here are some job options if you want to take this route. 

14. Screenwriter

👩🏻‍💼 Entry level positions: assistant/associate writer

💰 Potential beginner’s earning: $20-$30 per hour or $9,000-$15,000 per project 

Everyone of us has probably at one point or another thought about entering the film and TV industry, and that career goal is definitely achievable, if you know where to look. A lot of people start with assistant positions to learn the ropes and get an opportunity to work on bigger productions. If you prefer to write from the get-go, you can go for lower-budget projects. 

To get one of the assistant positions and put yourself out there, touch up on craft skills like plotting, story structures , character-building to be prepared. No qualifications are specified in most cases. 

15. Broadcast journalist 

👨🏼‍💼 Entry level positions: staff writer

We’ve covered written news — now comes broadcast news. From televised reports to radio sessions, you can be the writer behind the words that reporters or presenters read out. It’s a fast-paced job that deals with the latest real-life stories, which can be incredibly rewarding, even if it’s not explicitly creative. 

Many broadcast journalists work project by project (unless it’s periodical news), almost like a freelancer. You’ll still need to have all the skills necessary to put together a good news story, so some journalist training will be beneficial. 

16. Podcaster 

👩🏻‍💼 Entry level positions: assistant/associate writer or producer 

💰 Potential beginner’s earning: $18-$25 per hour, or $26,000-$32,000 per year 

Along the same lines as a broadcast journalist is the job of a podcaster. This is a bit more topical than journalism, and you can really home into certain fields and explore it in depth. Another special thing about podcasters is they usually host the shows, too! So if you’re confident about your voice, and about interviewing others, there’s no reason not to try this out. 

As with screenwriting, the route to get into this sector can be a little bit challenging, since it’s often a case of catching an opportunity from the right people at the right time. Which is why assistant jobs are a strong start. 

And finally, we arrive at the section that hopeful writers often dream about more than anything else. Publishing a book is not easy, it requires not just time and effort but also finances, if only to keep you afloat while completing the manuscript. That said, it’s possible to do it on the side with another full-time job, as is the case for most published writers. 

The cool thing about this career is that you are your own boss — i.e. there are no entry level positions. You are an author the day you call yourself one. 

17. Short story writer

Short stories are charming in their own right, and with the booming literary magazine sphere , there’s no shortage of space to get your words out there into the world. Publishing an anthology with a publisher is also an option but it’s harder — you often need to have an established career first. 

In any case, most magazines aim to have enough funds to pay their contributors. Small ones can pay $15-$20 per story, bigger ones $100-$200. You can also enter writing contests to win higher prizes.

18. Novelist 

Being a novelist comes with the difficulty of having the time and finances to write a full draft before you can propose it to publishers, or even publish it yourself. It’s a long commitment, and it doesn’t guarantee a payoff. If it does get printed, a book deal can get you an advance in the $5,000-$15,000 range. If you self-publish, what you get depends on how well you market your books — emphasis on the plural noun!

That said, it’s not impossible. We’ve got a whole post on how to become a novelist here if you want some pointers from famous writers like Anne Lamott and Zadie Smith! 

19. Nonfiction author 

Who says creative writing jobs have to be all about fiction? Creative nonfiction is a growing field that’s always welcoming new stories. From memoirs and biographies to true crime, from self-help to essay collections, you can focus on many different topics with this option. 

The nice thing about it all is that unlike fiction writers, you can pitch your book proposal to publishers before you complete a whole manuscript for nonfiction titles, meaning you can be guaranteed some kind of results before you start writing. The advance amount is similar to that for novels.

And last but not least, you can become a poet! Poets tell stories with rhythm and rich imagery, and not just on paper but also with their voice. Performing poetry is one of the special advantages that comes with this form of writing. Not only does it let you and the audience experience in a new way, it’s also a great opportunity to grow as an artist. 

On top of that, you can also dabble in other industries (advertising, music producers…) as a lyricist. As it’s a gig-based employment, you probably want to diversify your work portfolio to make sure there’s always something you can work on. The rates are usually similar to that of a ghostwriter.

And voila, that’s the end to our master list of creative writing jobs! Hopefully, there’s something to help you passion live on among this many options.

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What to Know About Creative Writing Degrees

Many creative writing degree recipients pursue careers as authors while others work as copywriters or ghostwriters.

Tips on Creative Writing Degrees

A student sitting beside the bed in bedroom with her coffee cup and writing on the note pad.

Prospective writing students should think about their goals and figure out if a creative writing degree will help them achieve those goals. (Getty Images)

Many people see something magical in a beautiful work of art, and artists of all kinds often take pride in their craftsmanship. Creative writers say they find fulfillment in the writing process.

"I believe that making art is a human need, and so to get to do that is amazing," says Andrea Lawlor, an author who this year received a Whiting Award – a national $50,000 prize that recognizes 10 excellent emerging authors each year – and who is also the Clara Willis Phillips Assistant Professor of English at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts.

"We all are seeing more and more of the way that writing can help us understand perspectives we don't share," says Lawlor, whose recent novel "Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl" addresses the issue of gender identity.

"Writing can help us cope with hard situations," Lawlor says. "We can find people who we have something in common with even if there's nobody around us who shares our experience through writing. It's a really powerful tool for connection and social change and understanding."

Creative writing faculty, many of whom are acclaimed published authors, say that people are well-suited toward degrees in creative writing if they are highly verbal and enjoy expressing themselves.

"Creative imaginative types who have stories burning inside them and who gravitate toward stories and language might want to pursue a degree in creative writing," Jessica Bane Robert, who teaches Introduction to Creative Writing at Clark University in Massachusetts, wrote in an email. "Through formal study you will hone your voice, gain confidence, find a support system for what can otherwise be a lonely endeavor."

Read the guide below to gain more insight into what it means to pursue a creative writing education, how writing impacts society and whether it is prudent to invest in a creative writing degree. Learn about the difference between degree-based and non-degree creative writing programs, how to craft a solid application to a top-notch creative writing program and how to figure out which program is the best fit.

Why Creative Writing Matters and Reasons to Study It

Creative writers say a common misconception about their job is that their work is frivolous and impractical, but they emphasize that creative writing is an extremely effective way to convey messages that are hard to share in any other way.

Kelly Caldwell, dean of faculty at Gotham Writers Workshop in New York City, says prospective writing students are often discouraged from taking writing courses because of concerns about whether a writing life is somehow unattainable or "unrealistic."

Although creative writers are sometimes unable to financially support themselves entirely on the basis of their creative projects, Caldwell says, they often juggle that work with other types of jobs and lead successful careers.

She says that many students in her introductory creative writing class were previously forbidden by parents to study creative writing. "You have to give yourself permission for the simple reason that you want to do it," she suggests.

Creative writing faculty acknowledge that a formal academic credential in creative writing is not needed in order to get writing published. However, they suggest, creative writing programs help aspiring authors develop their writing skills and allow space and time to complete long-term writing projects.

Working writers often juggle multiple projects at once and sometimes have more than one gig, which can make it difficult to finish an especially ambitious undertaking such as a novel, a play for the screen or stage, or a well-assembled collection of poems, short stories or essays. Grants and fellowships for authors are often designed to ensure that those authors can afford to concentrate on their writing.

Samuel Ace, a published poet and a visiting lecturer in poetry at Mount Holyoke, says his goal is to show students how to write in an authentic way that conveys real feeling. "It helps students to become more direct, not to bury their thoughts under a cascade of academic language, to be more forthright," he says.

Tips on Choosing Between a Non-Degree or Degree-Based Creative Writing Program

Experts note that someone needs to be ready to get immersed in the writing process and devote significant time to writing projects before pursuing a creative writing degree. Prospective writing students should not sign up for a degree program until they have reached that sense of preparedness, warns Kim Todd, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota College of Liberal Arts and director of its creative writing program.

She says prospective writing students need to think about their personal goals and figure out if a creative writing degree will help them achieve those goals.

Aspiring writers who are not ready to invest in a creative writing degree program may want to sign up for a one-off writing class or begin participating in an informal writing workshop so they can test their level of interest in the field, Todd suggests.

How to Choose and Apply to a Creative Writing Program

In many cases, the most important component of an application to a writing program is the writing portfolio, writing program experts say. Prospective writing students need to think about which pieces of writing they include in their portfolio and need to be especially mindful about which item they put at the beginning of their portfolio. They should have a trusted mentor critique the portfolio before they submit it, experts suggest.

Because creative writing often involves self-expression, it is important for aspiring writing students to find a program where they feel comfortable expressing their true identity.

This is particularly pertinent to aspiring authors who are members of minority groups, including people of color or LGBTQ individuals, says Lawlor, who identifies as queer, transgender and nonbinary.

How to Use a Creative Writing Degree

Creative writing program professors and alumni say creative writing programs cultivate a variety of in-demand skills, including the ability to communicate effectively.

"While yes, many creative writers are idealists and dreamers, these are also typically highly flexible and competent people with a range of personal strengths. And a good creative writing program helps them understand their particular strengths and marketability and translate these for potential employers, alongside the more traditional craft development work," Melissa Ridley Elmes, an assistant professor of English at Lindenwood University in Missouri, wrote in an email.

Elmes – an author who writes poetry, fiction and nonfiction – says creative writing programs force students to develop personal discipline because they have to consistently produce a significant amount of writing. In addition, participating in writing workshops requires writing students "to give and receive constructive feedback," Elmes says.

Cindy Childress, who has a Ph.D. in English from the University of Louisiana—Lafayatte and did a creative writing dissertation where she submitted poetry, says creative writing grads are well-equipped for good-paying positions as advertising and marketing copywriters, speechwriters, grant writers and ghostwriters.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual compensation for writers and authors was $63,200 as of May 2019.

"I think the Internet, and writing communities online and in social media, have been very helpful for debunking the idea that if you publish a New York Times Bestseller you will have 'made it' and can quit your day job and write full time," Elmes explains. "Unless you are independently wealthy, the odds are very much against you in this regard."

Childress emphasizes that creative writing degree recipients have "skills that are absolutely transferable to the real world." For example, the same storytelling techniques that copywriters use to shape public perceptions about a commercial brand are often taught in introductory creative writing courses, she says. The ability to tell a good story does not necessarily come easily to people who haven't been trained on how to do it, she explains.

Childress says she was able to translate her creative writing education into a lucrative career and start her own ghostwriting and book editing company, where she earns a six-figure salary. She says her background in poetry taught her how to be pithy.

"Anything that we want to write nowadays, particularly for social media, is going to have to be immediately understood, so there is a sense of immediacy," she says."The language has to be crisp and direct and exact, and really those are exactly the same kind of ways you would describe a successful poem."

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Creative writing

A degree in creative writing allows you to develop your writing, research and creative thinking skills. You'll also gain skills that are useful in a range of other careers such as publishing, marketing, PR and teaching

Job options

Jobs directly related to your degree include:

  • Advertising copywriter
  • Arts administrator
  • Creative director
  • Digital copywriter
  • Editorial assistant
  • Higher education lecturer
  • Lexicographer
  • Magazine journalist
  • Newspaper journalist
  • Publishing copy-editor/proofreader
  • Talent agent

Jobs where your degree would be useful include:

  • Academic librarian
  • Digital marketer
  • Film director
  • Marketing executive
  • Primary school teacher
  • Public librarian
  • Public relations officer
  • Social media manager
  • Web content manager

Remember that many employers accept applications from graduates with any degree subject, so don't restrict your thinking to the jobs listed here.

Work experience

Building a portfolio of written work, especially any that you've had published, will help to evidence your writing skills and establish your reputation as a writer.

You can gain valuable experience by writing for your student newspaper or magazine, volunteering in schools, or getting involved with writers' groups. Also, try submitting work to journals or anthologies, entering competitions, performing at spoken word events or approaching local drama groups to see if they will use your scripts. This will boost your profile and help build your confidence.

To make yourself more employable, look for opportunities to gain some solid work experience. This could be in the form of paid administrative work for a company or volunteering, perhaps with a local charity helping them to promote the work they do.

You could also write speculatively to a number of businesses, including publishing houses and marketing firms, to ask if you could complete some short-term work experience or shadowing. This can have the advantage of getting you a foot in the door in a highly-competitive industry and could lead to a permanent position.

As well as creative talent and writing experience, you will also need perseverance and determination to succeed as a writer.

Search for placements and find out more about work experience and internships .

Typical employers

As a creative writing graduate you may work to establish yourself as a writer on a self-employed basis, either writing your own works, or writing for others in a freelance capacity.

Alternatively, you could find opportunities with a variety of employers, including:

  • publishing houses or editorial/technical writing service companies
  • advertising, marketing and public relations agencies, particularly in a copywriting capacity
  • primary, secondary, further and higher education institutions
  • media organisations and social media companies
  • general businesses - in an administrative or general management position
  • Civil Service, library or charitable organisations.

Find information on employers in marketing, advertising and PR , media and internet , teacher training and education , and other job sectors .

Further study

As a creative writing graduate you can develop your creative writing skills further by undertaking further study at Masters or PhD level. You can also specialise in an area such as screenwriting, the graphic novel, writing for young people, writing poetry, or writing and producing comedy.

Alternatively, you may want to undertake further vocational training in areas such as teaching, journalism, librarianship or publishing. Vocational courses allow you to study in an area in which you would like to have a career.

You may also want to consider further study in areas such as PR, marketing or advertising.

For more information on further study and to find a course that interests you, see Masters degrees and search postgraduate courses in creative writing .

What do creative writing graduates do?

One in ten (10%) creative writing graduates who are in employment in the UK are working in artistic, literary and media occupations, while 11% are working as sales, marketing and related associate professionals, 6% are teaching professionals and 5% are media professionals.

Find out what other creative writing graduates are doing 15 months after finishing their degrees in What do graduates do?

Graduate destinations data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

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Do you scribble poems along the margins of your math homework? Are you obsessed with short stories? Do you dream of publishing a book one day?

If so, a degree in creative writing might be for you. This fascinating field of study offers hands-on training in genres of all kinds, from memoir to screenwriting, fiction to personal essay. Through lectures, seminars, workshops, and critique groups, students learn to recognize and create high quality writing. They practice developing their own projects and critiquing those of their peers. They learn to edit, revise, and refine their work; meet deadlines; and pitch their creations for publication. Plus, they gain access to top professionals in the field, networking with esteemed novelists , poets, screenwriters , and other creative writers .

If you think a creative writing degree might be for you, read on. In this article, we’ll cover:

  • What kinds of creative writing degrees are out there?
  • What sets creative writing apart from similar degrees, like journalism or English literature?
  • What skills will you gain from a degree in creative writing?
  • What can you do with a creative writing degree?

Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Creative Writing\u2014 Four Year Duration \nBachelor’s degrees in creative writing typically take about four years to complete. They offer a broad introduction to the main genres of creative writing, including screenwriting, creative nonfiction, poetry, short story, memoir, and more. Students learn about the basics of plot, style, character, and story structure. They practice writing in different styles and genres, and also learn to read and critique other students’ work. In addition, most bachelor’s degrees offer plenty of opportunities to network with other writers and publishing professionals.

Master of Fine Arts Degree in Creative Writing \u2014 Two Year Duration \nMaster’s programs in creative writing offer an opportunity to dive even deeper into the craft. Most take about two years to complete, and combine hands-on writing workshops with seminar courses by professional writers. At the end of the program, students typically complete a dissertation or thesis. Depending on the program, this could be a novel, memoir, poetry collection, or some other long-form piece of writing that is ready to submit for publication.

Doctoral Degree in Creative Writing \u2014 Four Year Duration \nInterested in becoming a professor of creative writing? A Ph.D. may be in your future. Doctoral programs in creative writing are highly intensive and specialized. They tend to focus on mastering critique, research, and academic writing, rather than on building creative writing skills.

Although obtaining a Ph.D. is one way to get an academic job, it isn’t the only option. Often, faculty positions in creative writing are offered to candidates who have published books or screenplays, rather than to candidates with formal academic training.

No matter what path you choose, a degree in creative writing can serve you well\u2014both in the writing world and beyond. Most students graduate with valuable professional skills under their belt, including:

  • Communication (written and oral)
  • Research and critical reading skills
  • Editing, proofreading, and revision
  • Constructive feedback and critique
  • Ability to meet deadlines and manage your own time

Advertising \nLike digital marketing, advertising is all about persuasion. Penning the words for the perfect jingle or TV ad takes creativity and precision. With their mastery of the English language and awareness about the power of words, creative writing majors are a natural fit. Many pursue careers as advertising managers , copywriters , or art directors .

TV, Film, and Radio \nIn the age of Netflix, YouTube, and podcasts, the potential opportunities for talented storytellers are endless. With the right connections and experience, creative writing majors can pursue work as screen writers, radio producers, and even film editors .

Libraries and Archives \nWith their literary knowledge and their passion for the written word, creative writing graduates can make excellent librarians . From positions in academic libraries to rare book collections, there are lots of different options to explore. Although many jobs in this domain do require extra training, others, like library assistant , do not. Gain some experience in the area and build up your skills; if the profession feels like a fit, consider pursuing a degree in library and archival studies.

Education \nLast but not least, a creative writing degree can be the perfect training for a career in education. With their mastery of the English language, many creative writing graduates go on to become successful high school teachers , creative writing lecturers, or instructors for English as a Learned Language (ELL) courses. Others become professional tutors or personal mentors, offering one-on-one coaching to aspiring writers. Still others start their own workshops or training programs, helping new writers fall in love with the craft.

Creative writing degree overview

In this article:, what is a creative writing degree, program options, degrees similar to creative writing, skills you&rsquo;ll learn, what can you do with a creative writing degree.

If you think a creative writing degree might be for you, read on. In this article, we’ll cover:

A quick Google search for "how to study creative writing" will reveal just how many degree options there are available. Most universities and colleges now offer some form of creative writing program, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. But as you’ll see, there are lots of other ways to learn creative writing, from online courses to workshops and more.

Self Study Are you curious about writing but not ready to invest in a formal degree? If you’re a dedicated and self-motivated learner, taking your studies into your own hands can be a great option. For example, you could:

  • Join a creative writing group (or create your own!)
  • Enrol in an online writing class
  • Sign up for a writing residency or workshop
  • Intern or volunteer for a magazine or newsletter to gain first-hand writing experience
  • Start (and maintain) your own blog
  • Find a writing mentor or hire a writing coach
  • Build your own degree: Set yourself a writing schedule and ensure you stick to it. You could write daily, weekly, or even monthly—just as long as you’re consistent.

Certificate in Creative Writing — Varying Durations Pursuing a certificate in creative writing is another affordable, flexible degree option. These programs tend to be shorter than university degrees, often taking less than a year to complete. Many can be done part-time or online, making it possible to work while you study. Certificate programs in creative writing tend to focus on skill building, rather than writing theory.

Of course, professional certifications aren’t necessary for most writing jobs. But freelance writing is a competitive space, and having a certificate can help you stand out from the crowd. Some writers also say this training allows them to charge higher rates for their services.

Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Creative Writing— Four Year Duration Bachelor’s degrees in creative writing typically take about four years to complete. They offer a broad introduction to the main genres of creative writing, including screenwriting, creative nonfiction, poetry, short story, memoir, and more. Students learn about the basics of plot, style, character, and story structure. They practice writing in different styles and genres, and also learn to read and critique other students’ work. In addition, most bachelor’s degrees offer plenty of opportunities to network with other writers and publishing professionals.

Master of Fine Arts Degree in Creative Writing — Two Year Duration Master’s programs in creative writing offer an opportunity to dive even deeper into the craft. Most take about two years to complete, and combine hands-on writing workshops with seminar courses by professional writers. At the end of the program, students typically complete a dissertation or thesis. Depending on the program, this could be a novel, memoir, poetry collection, or some other long-form piece of writing that is ready to submit for publication.

Doctoral Degree in Creative Writing — Four Year Duration Interested in becoming a professor of creative writing? A Ph.D. may be in your future. Doctoral programs in creative writing are highly intensive and specialized. They tend to focus on mastering critique, research, and academic writing, rather than on building creative writing skills.

Although obtaining a Ph.D. is one way to get an academic job, it isn’t the only option. Often, faculty positions in creative writing are offered to candidates who have published books or screenplays, rather than to candidates with formal academic training.

Many students struggle when choosing between a creative writing and a related degree, like journalism or English literature. Although these three programs share some commonalities, they are distinct in key ways.

Journalism Both journalism and creative writing degrees offer hands-on training in written communication. Both help students develop essential techniques in research, writing, editing, critique, and revision. However, journalism focuses primarily on communicating real events and information—that is, writing news articles, opinion pieces, feature articles, and other non-fiction content. Creative writing, on the other hand, incorporates fantastical elements, combining real-world facts or settings with ideas drawn from the writer’s imagination.

English Literature Some people believe that being able to create great writing begins with appreciating great writing. English literature teaches students to do just that. Through critical reading, research, essay writing, and presentations, this degree trains students to understand and analyze acclaimed writing from all over the world.

English literature students study classics and contemporary works, covering everything from haiku to 800-page novels. However, although these programs will help you learn to recognize excellent writing, few will actually teach you how to write. Creative writing programs, on the other hand, focus primarily on building hands-on writing and editing skills.

No matter what path you choose, a degree in creative writing can serve you well—both in the writing world and beyond. Most students graduate with valuable professional skills under their belt, including:

Although many students enrol in a creative writing degree in hopes of becoming an author one day, this isn’t the only career option available. Here are some of the many professional directions creative writing graduates can pursue. Here are a few of the most common ones:

Content Writing The demand for high quality digital writing is growing, as more and more businesses are moving online. With a creative writing degree, you can help companies of all kinds prepare newsletters, social media posts, blogs, website pages, and more. You could become a freelance content writer, work as a corporation’s head of content, or even start your own blog .

Journalism Journalism and creative writing are distinct professions, but they share common features. Both rely on the power of storytelling to engage different audiences. Both require strong skills in research and communication. With so many similarities, it’s no surprise that many creative writing graduates find success as writers, editors, and fact checkers for magazines, newspapers, and other media companies.

Communications Just like writing a great piece of fiction, communicating effectively requires clarity, awareness, and a knack for the written word. Creative writing majors are ideally suited to a number of communication roles. Many pursue public relations positions, preparing compelling press releases, speeches, and more for clients of all kinds. Others pursue careers in internal communications, publicity, or public outreach.

Publishing Publishing is another promising career path to consider after a creative writing degree. Aside from becoming a published author, creative writing majors can pursue jobs such as book editors , proofreaders , editorial assistants, or ghostwriters. While less obviously related to writing, publishing jobs in other departments—like sales, marketing, or production—can also be a great fit.

Digital Marketing Digital marketing is a fast-growing field with lots of exciting career opportunities. Digital marketing jobs focus on promoting different products, services, events, or brands to online customers, using tools like social media, email marketing, and Search Engine optimization (SEO).

Creative writing graduates are skilled communicators, great at using words to entice and persuade. They can make excellent social media managers , digital marketing specialists , SEO specialists , and more.

Advertising Like digital marketing, advertising is all about persuasion. Penning the words for the perfect jingle or TV ad takes creativity and precision. With their mastery of the English language and awareness about the power of words, creative writing majors are a natural fit. Many pursue careers as advertising managers , copywriters , or art directors .

TV, Film, and Radio In the age of Netflix, YouTube, and podcasts, the potential opportunities for talented storytellers are endless. With the right connections and experience, creative writing majors can pursue work as screen writers, radio producers, and even film editors .

Libraries and Archives With their literary knowledge and their passion for the written word, creative writing graduates can make excellent librarians . From positions in academic libraries to rare book collections, there are lots of different options to explore. Although many jobs in this domain do require extra training, others, like library assistant , do not. Gain some experience in the area and build up your skills; if the profession feels like a fit, consider pursuing a degree in library and archival studies.

Education Last but not least, a creative writing degree can be the perfect training for a career in education. With their mastery of the English language, many creative writing graduates go on to become successful high school teachers , creative writing lecturers, or instructors for English as a Learned Language (ELL) courses. Others become professional tutors or personal mentors, offering one-on-one coaching to aspiring writers. Still others start their own workshops or training programs, helping new writers fall in love with the craft.

See which schools are the most and least expensive.

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Find details about every creative writing competition—including poetry contests, short story competitions, essay contests, awards for novels, grants for translators, and more—that we’ve published in the Grants & Awards section of Poets & Writers Magazine during the past year. We carefully review the practices and policies of each contest before including it in the Writing Contests database, the most trusted resource for legitimate writing contests available anywhere.

Find a home for your poems, stories, essays, and reviews by researching the publications vetted by our editorial staff. In the Literary Magazines database you’ll find editorial policies, submission guidelines, contact information—everything you need to know before submitting your work to the publications that share your vision for your work.

Whether you’re pursuing the publication of your first book or your fifth, use the Small Presses database to research potential publishers, including submission guidelines, tips from the editors, contact information, and more.

Research more than one hundred agents who represent poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers, plus details about the kinds of books they’re interested in representing, their clients, and the best way to contact them.

Trying to get your work published can feel like wandering in a maze. If you are running into one dead end after another, not sure which way to turn, Poets & Writers can demystify the process and help you reach your destination—publication.

Every week a new publishing professional shares advice, anecdotes, insights, and new ways of thinking about writing and the business of books.

Stay informed with reports from the world of writing contests, including news of extended deadlines, recent winners of notable awards, new contest announcements, interviews with winners, and more.

Since our founding in 1970, Poets & Writers has served as an information clearinghouse of all matters related to writing. While the range of inquiries has been broad, common themes have emerged over time. Our Top Topics for Writers addresses the most popular and pressing issues, including literary agents, copyright, MFA programs, and self-publishing.

Our series of subject-based handbooks (PDF format; $4.99 each) provide information and advice from authors, literary agents, editors, and publishers. Now available: The Poets & Writers Guide to Publicity and Promotion, The Poets & Writers Guide to the Book Deal, The Poets & Writers Guide to Literary Agents, The Poets & Writers Guide to MFA Programs, and The Poets & Writers Guide to Writing Contests.

Find a home for your work by consulting our searchable databases of writing contests, literary magazines, small presses, literary agents, and more.

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Poets & Writers lists readings, workshops, and other literary events held in cities across the country. Whether you are an author on book tour or the curator of a reading series, the Literary Events Calendar can help you find your audience.

Get the Word Out is a new publicity incubator for debut fiction writers and poets.

Research newspapers, magazines, websites, and other publications that consistently publish book reviews using the Review Outlets database, which includes information about publishing schedules, submission guidelines, fees, and more.

Well over ten thousand poets and writers maintain listings in this essential resource for writers interested in connecting with their peers, as well as editors, agents, and reading series coordinators looking for authors. Apply today to join the growing community of writers who stay in touch and informed using the Poets & Writers Directory.

Download our free app to find readings and author events near you; explore indie bookstores, libraries, and other places of interest to writers; and connect with the literary community in your city or town.

Let the world know about your work by posting your events on our literary events calendar, apply to be included in our directory of writers, and more.

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Find a writers group to join or create your own with Poets & Writers Groups. Everything you need to connect, communicate, and collaborate with other poets and writers—all in one place.

Find information about more than two hundred full- and low-residency programs in creative writing in our MFA Programs database, which includes details about deadlines, funding, class size, core faculty, and more. Also included is information about more than fifty MA and PhD programs.

Whether you are looking to meet up with fellow writers, agents, and editors, or trying to find the perfect environment to fuel your writing practice, the Conferences & Residencies is the essential resource for information about well over three hundred writing conferences, writers residencies, and literary festivals around the world.

Find information about venues that host readings and author events, including bookstores, bars, cafes, libraries, literary arts centers, and more. The Reading Venues database includes details about how to schedule your own reading, admission fees, audience size, parking and transit information, and more.

Discover historical sites, independent bookstores, literary archives, writing centers, and writers spaces in cities across the country using the Literary Places database—the best starting point for any literary journey, whether it’s for research or inspiration.

Search for jobs in education, publishing, the arts, and more within our free, frequently updated job listings for writers and poets.

Poets & Writers Live is an initiative developed in response to interviews and discussions with writers from all over the country. When we asked what Poets & Writers could do to support their writing practice, time and again writers expressed a desire for a more tangible connection to other writers. So, we came up with a living, breathing version of what Poets & Writers already offers: Poets & Writers Live.

Establish new connections and enjoy the company of your peers using our searchable databases of MFA programs and writers retreats, apply to be included in our directory of writers, and more.

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Bring the literary world to your door—at half the newsstand price. Available in print and digital editions, Poets & Writers Magazine is a must-have for writers who are serious about their craft.

View the contents and read select essays, articles, interviews, and profiles from the current issue of the award-winning Poets & Writers Magazine .

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In our weekly series of craft essays, some of the best and brightest minds in contemporary literature explore their craft in compact form, articulating their thoughts about creative obsessions and curiosities in a working notebook of lessons about the art of writing.

The Time Is Now offers weekly writing prompts in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction to help you stay committed to your writing practice throughout the year. Sign up to get The Time Is Now, as well as a weekly book recommendation for guidance and inspiration, delivered to your inbox.

Every week a new author shares books, art, music, writing prompts, films—anything and everything—that has inspired and shaped the creative process.

Watch videos, listen to audio clips, and view slideshows related to articles and features published in Poets & Writers Magazine .

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Start, renew, or give a subscription to Poets & Writers Magazine ; change your address; check your account; pay your bill; report a missed issue; contact us.

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Poets & Writers is pleased to provide free subscriptions to Poets & Writers Magazine to award-winning young writers and to high school creative writing teachers for use in their classrooms.

Read select articles from the award-winning magazine and consult the most comprehensive listing of literary grants and awards, deadlines, and prizewinners available in print.

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Jobs for Writers

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FAO Schwarz Fellow at 826 Boston

The 826 Boston Fellow will provide individualized writing support across 826 Boston’s programs and develop processes and tools to provide more students with access to 826 Boston’s publishing program.

The University of Virginia

Sydney blair memorial professorship in creative writing (fiction).

The University of Virginia’s Department of English/Program in  Creative Writing —one of the nation’s highest-ranked—invites applications for the Sydney Blair Memorial Professorship in Creative Writing (fiction), at the level of associate or full professor. Created through a gift from the Kapnick Foundation, this professorship honors the memory of longtime faculty member Sydney Blair and her love of teaching.

The University of British Columbia

Assistant or associate professor in black speculative writing.

In support of its commitments to inclusive excellence in academia and research, The University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada has launched a university-wide Black Faculty Cohort Hiring Initiative (BFCHI) to recruit up to 23 Black scholars over the next four years.

Atlantic Center for the Arts

Executive director.

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

ATLANTIC CENTER FOR THE ARTS [ACA]

Oklahoma State University

Assistant professor in creative writing–poetry.

The Department of English at Oklahoma State University seeks to hire a tenure-track Assistant Professor in Creative Writing-Poetry beginning in August 2024, contingent upon available funding. Responsibilities include a 2/2 teaching load of introductory through graduate creative writing workshops, as well as advising graduate students and willingness and ability to serve on thesis, dissertation, and exam committees.

Trellis Literary Management

Agency assistant.

Trellis Literary Management is hiring an Agency Assistant to provide editorial and administrative support for two founding partners/literary agents. Candidates should have strong editorial skills and experience, and must be extremely organized, pro-active, and eager to work in a collaborative environment. A deep and abiding interest in literary, upmarket, and commercial fiction is required. Familiarity with our authors is a plus.

The Fine Arts Work Center

Fellowship director.

Title: Fellowship Director Supervisor: Executive Director, in consultation with Visual Arts Committee (VAC) and Writing Committee (WC) Full-time/Part-time: Full-time Exempt/Non-exempt: Exempt On-site/Remote: On-site

This opportunity is ideal for a candidate with a deep commitment to and expertise in arts and letters who would like a career opportunity surrounded by the beauty of Cape Cod, the vibrancy of Provincetown, and artists and writers working on their craft. We welcome candidates with their own creative practice.

Artist Services Manager

Title: Artist Services Manager Supervisor: Fellowship Director Full-time/Part-time: Full-time Exempt/Non-exempt: Exempt On-site/Remote: On-site 

This opportunity is ideal for a candidate with a passion for arts and letters who would like a career opportunity surrounded by the beauty of Cape Cod, the vibrancy of Provincetown, and artists and writers working on their craft. We welcome candidates with their own creative practice.

Hofstra University

Adjunct faculty, publishing studies.

At Hofstra University, intellectual curiosity is not just aspirational – it is central to how we engage on a daily basis. Hofstra faculty work within a diverse scholarly community committed to student success, intellectual discovery, free inquiry, inclusivity, and collaboration.

Enrolling more than 10,000 students, Hofstra offers students an array of undergraduate and graduate academic programs spanning the arts, humanities, sciences, business, engineering, law, health care, communications, and more.

The Writers Circle

Creative writing instructor.

Creative Writing Instructor for Children in Suburban New Jersey

The Writers Circle is looking for published authors to teach the joy of the creative writing process to young people in Summit or South Orange, New Jersey.

If you are a motivated self-starter who loves kids and wants to nurture young writers, we’d love to hear from you. Our instructors are experts at recognizing the good in every student’s writing and finding ways to bring it to its own best level. We are not looking for classroom teachers, but rather experienced writers who can teach.

Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

Become a juror for the century-old Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, the nonprofit organization that presents the Awards, is seeking jurors to select the national award winners.

SuperSummary

Literature study guide writer.

Are you an experienced writer with a love of literature and the desire to work from home? We are looking for skilled, passionate writers to contribute to our literature study guide company and our mission to help learners of all ages get more out of the texts they read! Whether you’re a post-grad student looking to build your professional portfolio or an experienced freelance writer ready for reliable and enjoyable assignments, writing literature study guides with SuperSummary could be your dream job. 

What we provide for you:

Graywolf Press

Associate publicist / publicist.

Graywolf Press seeks an energetic, organized, and creative person with book publicity experience for the position of Associate Publicist or Publicist.

Graywolf Press is a leading nonprofit publisher of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, including work in translation, that is committed to the discovery and energetic publication of twenty-first century American and international literature. We publish thirty to thirty-five books each year. Our nineteen-person, hybrid staff is primarily based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

Zando Projects

Ip associate editor/editor .

Zando Projects: IP Associate Editor/Editor 

Michigan State University

Assistant or associate professor.

The Residential College in the Arts and Humanities (RCAH) at Michigan State University (MSU) seeks a committed poet to serve as the Director for the RCAH Center for Poetry. The Director will also teach a variety of courses in an interdisciplinary undergraduate arts and humanities curriculum that emphasizes community engagement.

Westmont College

Assistant professor of english—composition/rhetoric.

The Department of English at Westmont College invites applications for a tenure-track position in Composition/Rhetoric to begin August 2024. The successful candidate will be expected to teach a 3/3 load (24 units per year), which will include upper- and lower-division writing courses across genres in the English major and Writing minor. All colleagues in the English Department regularly teach introductory Writing for the Liberal Arts (Composition) courses.

Park & Fine Literary and Media

Senior coordinator.

An in-office position in downtown Manhattan that provides day-to-day support to the CEO of a fast-growing, independent literary agency of 20+ employees. The job of Senior Coordinator offers interesting, practical experience and unique insight into the world of book publishing and running a small agency. The right hire understands that learning to anticipate the CEO’s needs across a breadth of activities is the priority and intellectually rewarding in itself as well as a career-making opportunity for future endeavors. Minimum of 2 years of in-office experience required.

Le Moyne College

Assistant professor of creative writing.

About Le Moyne College:

Le Moyne College, located in Syracuse, N.Y., is an independent college established by the Jesuits in 1946 to provide students with a values-based, comprehensive academic program designed to foster intellectual excellence and preparation for a life of leadership and service. Today, Le Moyne has evolved into a nationally acclaimed college of liberal arts and sciences that draws students from across the U.S. and abroad.

Our Mission:

Elon University

Assistant professor of english.

ENGLISH Creative Writing/Nonfiction.  Elon University invites applications for a tenure-track writer of creative nonfiction, at the assistant professor level, beginning mid-August 2024. Requirements: MFA or higher, an active record of publication in top-tier journals and/or presses, and a history of innovation and excellence in undergraduate teaching.

Hope College

Assistant professor, creative writing—fiction.

English – Assistant Professor, Creative Writing—Fiction

The Department of English at Hope College invites applications for a tenure-track assistant professor in Creative Writing—Fiction to begin in the Academic Year of  ‘24 - ‘25.

Description :

The George Washington University Department of English

2024-2025 jenny mckean moore writer-in-washington.

For appointment beginning in the fall of 2024, we seek a writer of creative nonfiction to teach two semesters at the George Washington University as the Jenny McKean Moore Writer-in-Washington. Each semester, the successful candidate will teach a small community workshop in creative nonfiction for members of the metropolitan Washington area. No tuition is charged for these workshops, which are not open to University students. The successful candidate will also teach two classes, one each semester, for students at the George Washington University.

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25 Creative Jobs & Careers for Creative People

creative writing career

Creativity is far from just a skill; it’s an essential part of an identity. Why settle for a career that doesn’t allow creative individuals to shine? Creative people deserve equally creative careers — and yes, there are dozens of creative jobs that don’t require a degree! 

Whether a self-taught photographer or a classically trained painter, rest assured that jobs for artistic people do exist. Today, we’ve gathered 25 of the top creative careers and jobs for creative thinkers, from photography and videography to creative writing and arts and crafts. 

Photography & Videography Careers

1. photographer.

Creatives with photography skills can share their gifts across a wide range of industries. As one of the many creative jobs that don’t require a degree, most photographers can discover professional work with a polished portfolio and general photography experience. 

A few examples of photography creative careers include:

  • Product photographer
  • Wedding photographer
  • Newborn photographer
  • Real estate photographer
  • Photojournalist

Check out our full Photography Careers Guide for more photography career options.

How Much Can a Photographer Make?

The general yearly salary for a photographer averages $43,114 per year but can vary depending on professional experience. Even those just beginning their photography career can find entry-level photography assistant positions. These opportunities can help set novice photographers on a strong path for career growth, potentially leading them to start a photography business.

2. Videographer

Though a career in videography may require a bit more equipment than photography, it’s an awesome freelance or employment opportunity for creatives with a love for visual arts in motion. Videography skills are often highly requested across numerous industries for purposes including but not limited to advertisement commercials, music video production, and product marketing. 

How Much Can a Videographer Make?

As of 2022, the average videographer’s salary sits at around $68,703 per year . It can range from $56,668 per year to $85,611 per year, depending on education and prior experience. Those of us looking to jumpstart our videography career can lock in some general videography knowledge and research local entry-level positions or apprenticeship programs. 

3.Photo Editor

Jobs with photography don’t all happen behind the camera. If you have the skills to edit photos , you are extremely hireable. There is a lot of work in the field, whether that’s through freelancing gigs (which, thanks to digital photography, can be done entirely online) or with an ad agency. While you may not be taking the photos directly, you will stay engaged with the art and the questions that surround its technique.

4. Film Producer

For those with a deep love for videography and the visual arts, plus a desire to take on a management-focused career, a creative career in film production is the way to go. These creative individuals are responsible for managing various stages of film production, ranging from early development to post-production on everything from small indie films or highly anticipated blockbusters. 

Roles as a film producer often require a bit more experience and knowledge to help land a position. The current average salary for a film producer is $70,319 per year . Some positions offer upwards of $135,000 per year, depending on skills and experience. 

5. Video Editor

Falling under the field of videography, video editors are responsible for editing recorded footage used in movies, television shows, company commercials, and online videos. Many businesses will seek video editing services on a project-to-project basis, making this a great freelancing opportunity for those with strong video editing abilities. 

The average base annual salary for a video editor is approximately $38,850 per year. However, a video editor typically prices their professional services based on their experience and specific skills, which can significantly influence final income amounts. 

Design Careers 

6. graphic design .

Rather than capture art with a camera, a creative career in graphic design allows an artistic individual to create the art themselves. A graphic design career offers great freelance and employment opportunities, from developing gaming graphics to crafting custom company logos.

How Much Can a Graphic Designer Make?

The current salary average for a graphic designer is approximately $50,710 per year . With many graphic designers beginning their careers through self-taught online instruction , designers who continue to enhance their skill sets have a chance of securing higher-paying positions and projects.

Graphic designers who expand their expertise through continued education and ongoing experience can land more advanced roles. For example, the salary for senior designers averages $82,384 per year , and product designers earn an average of $102,237 per year .

7. Web Design

Like graphic design, a creative job in web design also offers fantastic freelance and employment opportunities for those with an eye for art. This creative career pairs personal website design tools, including WordPress and Adobe Dreamweaver, with technical web development language skills, like CSS, Java, and Python, to create websites that are equal parts functional and visually appealing.

How Much Can a Web Designer Make?

For those with an established portfolio, web design offers great self-employment opportunities due to the project-to-project nature of this profession. However, the average annual salary is also $67,916 per year , so it’s crucial for web designers to stay up to date with current web design trends and skills , as many preferred web design tools and processes regularly update and change. 

8. UX Design

User experience (UX) design positions partner the skills of a web designer with the ability to make cloud-based programs and websites user-friendly. UX designers hone their skills to program and alter the functions and layout of a website or program to support customer satisfaction and accessibility.

How Much Can a UX Designer Make?

UX design positions average a yearly salary of roughly $98,816 . Unlike other creative jobs that don’t require a degree, these jobs also require some college education.

People just beginning their UX design career path and those without college experience often start by teaching themselves UX design topics and skills. 

9. Fashion Design

Apart from the digital aspect of creative design, fashion design offers robust creative potential for those interested in designing all types of clothing and accessories. This highly prized and competitive niche offers huge employment opportunities with various fashion brands. We can also consider freelance design opportunities to create a proprietary clothing brand . 

How Much Can a Fashion Designer Make?

Due to fashion’s varying nature in price and popularity, salary amounts fluctuate with a current average of $75,810 per year . However, those who enter the entrepreneurial space of fashion design can experience far beyond average salary amounts dependent on personal success. 

10. Interior Design

Interior design is a highly desired job for artistic people that offers excellent employment opportunities with design firms. Interior designers are responsible for using their keen eye for aesthetics to create visually appealing residential and commercial interior spaces with a curated selection of wall colors, furniture, and other design elements. 

How Much Can an Interior Designer Make?

The average annual interior design salary is roughly $52,034 , with previous experience and education qualifications potentially affecting this amount. Many design firms often request educational design experience. Yet rising interior designers can get a taste of industry expectations through online education . 

11. Art Director

Securing a role as an art director is built for those seeking a bit more of a management position. Art directors are responsible for overseeing the visual design aspects of a media campaign and often manage and mentor entry-level designers. 

How Much Can an Art Director Make?

Art director roles are considered senior-level positions and offer an average annual salary of $100,890 . Due to the high level of this position, companies seeking an art director often require multiple years of experience and a bachelor’s degree in an art and design subject. 

12. Jewelry Design 

Those searching for creative jobs that don’t require a degree may want to consider jewelry design. While major jewelry companies may offer design assistant positions, many people opt to design jewelry through their own small businesses. 

In fact, the booming popularity of e-commerce has enabled jewelry design entrepreneurs to sell their work directly through online marketplaces such as Etsy.

How Much Can a Jewelry Designer Make?

Jewelry designers hold an average annual salary of $42,501 . However, those who tap into the entrepreneurial space of jewelry design may see a much higher wage. 

13. Motion Design

As one of the top jobs for artistic people, motion designers leverage graphic design skills to create web, television, and film content with animation and visual effects that put their art into motion. Motion designers will often work alongside various marketing and production companies to help craft animated commercials, trailers, and mobile app openings. 

How Much Can a Motion Designer Make?

Many motion designers work freelance and offer their skills on a project-to-project basis and can make an average of $60,703 per year , depending on professional experience and portfolio presence.

Music Careers

Visual arts may not be for everyone. Some of us have a deep passion for music production, which we can develop into creative careers as well.

14. Music Producer

Music producers are responsible for leading the creative and technical development of music recordings ranging from a single song to an entire studio soundtrack. Producers work hand-in-hand with those in the music business , managing songwriters, audio engineers, and artists as a team to help craft an awesome audio project. 

How Much Can a Music Producer Make?

Because of the expansive level of industry success a music producer can encounter, yearly salary amounts can average anywhere from $70,326 per year to upwards of a multi-million dollar amount. 

15.Start DJ ‘ing

For those who enjoy entertainment and are looking to take their music career outside of the studio, entering the professional DJ space may be the answer. From mastering the machine to getting the scratching down pat, DJing involves numerous music mixing skills that we can use to host parties, work on a radio station, and create custom medleys. 

How Much Can a DJ Make?

A professional DJ’s salary averages $58,267 per year. Yet, as with most careers in music, the exposure level and demand for services can significantly impact a DJ’s salary. 

16. Audio Engineer

An audio engineer is responsible for the numerous mechanical and technical components of sound, whether it’s for music recordings, television shows, or even video game sound reels. A creative ear is essential, as responsibilities include recording, editing, and reproducing enjoyable audio files. 

How Much Can an Audio Engineer Make?

The current average annual salary for an audio engineer totals $51,774 per year . This income can climb upwards of $136,500 per year with added experience. For those looking to enter the field, online audio engineering classes can offer excellent insight into the skills needed to become successful. 

17. Sound Mixer

Often referred to as production sound mixers, sound mixers lead the process of capturing, editing, and uploading audio for television, film, and music operations. Sound mixers are often responsible for overseeing the entire audio production team, which makes for the perfect creative career for those seeking a management position in the music industry. 

How Much Can a Sound Mixer Make?

A professional sound mixer can earn an average annual salary of $62,809 or more, depending on the level of experience and general industry education.  

Arts and Crafts Careers 

18. painter.

Some of us love to paint but have never considered it as a potential career path. Yet professional painters can sell their work, commission their paintings to corporate or private collections, and work on specific projects to make money. Likewise, those who can demonstrate strong painting skills can also teach art classes or workshops.

The yearly salary for an artistic painter truly cannot be averaged to a general amount. As with many artistic career routes, yearly income amounts will rely on the artist’s success and the exposure they receive. Another contributing factor is whether painting is a side hustle or a full-time freelance gig. 

19. Illustrator 

Another option for those of us with a passion for drawing is to become an illustrator. With both freelance and employment opportunities available, illustrators play a huge role in all things that require physical drawing.

How Much Can an Illustrator Make?

Illustrator careers can stretch from magazines and children’s books to fashion design and advertisements. Depending on skill level and general level of experience, illustrators can earn an average annual salary ranging from $21,500 to $131,500.

20.Online Craft Seller

For us creatives who create pottery or macrame plant hangers, there are online opportunities to sell our artwork — and even take special requests from customers looking to use our skills to create something custom. The trick is to master the art of running an online craft shop like in a platform like Etsy or similar platforms.

Like painters, online craft sellers can earn a wide range of salaries. Creative individuals can benefit from learning craft business basics , like establishing a personal shop, to create endless opportunities to share their skills with the world and also turn a profit. Plus, a personal shop with traction can quickly turn a side gig into a full-time self-employed operation. 

Creative Writing  Careers

21. copywriter.

In terms of creative writing career paths, copywriting tends to take the cake. From blog writing for big companies to creating website copy and product descriptions for small businesses, copywriting skills are present just about anywhere there’s text. 

Copywriting offers great freelance, side-hustle, and employment opportunities, with many successful writers sourcing their guidance strictly from creative writing classes .

How Much Can a Copywriter Make?

The current average salary for a copywriter is $54,184 per year . This amount can increase with industry experience, client caliber, and skill.

22. Ghostwriter

Ghostwriters are the solutions for thought leaders and various industry professionals who want to write a book or start a blog, but simply don’t have the writing skills. Though ghostwriters do not receive a byline (credit) for their work, they still receive payment for each piece they author.

Many successful ghostwriters have a background in copywriting and other creative writing fields. Others hone their skills through self-education. As ghostwriters often operate independently as freelancers or side hustlers, yearly pay varies based on the number of projects and their cost.

23. Social Media Marketer

Individuals with both creative writing and social media skills who don’t want to take on long-form copywriting or ghostwriting projects may consider social media marketing. Social media marketers use platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and now Tiktok to create, upload, and manage content that attracts and engages customers. 

How Much Can a Social Media Marketer Make?

As with many creative writing careers, social media marketers can freelance or opt for a full-time position with an average salary of $56,423 per year. One way to learn the basics and jumpstart a career in social media is through online classes. 

24.Journalist

A career in journalism is a perfect match for those who have a passion for storytelling and staying connected with hot topics and global news. Journalists allow creatives to hone their writing skills to educate and inform readers on various topics through newspapers, magazines, or online publications. 

Many professionals possess a degree in journalism. However, a degree is not always necessary if aspiring journalists can demonstrate previous work samples.

How Much Can a Journalist Make?

The average starting salary for a journalist is $41,968 per year , and career growth depends on the employing publication.

25. Technical Writer

For those seeking creative careers that involve a challenge, try technical writing. Technical writers are responsible for transforming complex and difficult-to-digest topics into something all readers can understand. Technical writers often create product guides, medical manuals, and other documentation to be used as a reference following a product purchase or service request. 

How Much Can a Technical Writer Make?

Due to the high-grade nature of this writing, the average salary for a technical writer is approximately $69,234 per year . With both freelance and full-time opportunities available, technical writers can score creative jobs by demonstrating robust knowledge in a particular niche.  

Types of Career

Not all creative careers will require a 9 to 5 job. Before diving into the individual job types, consider the multiple types of careers that offer creative direction.

Freelance Creative 

Freelance work is often not referred to as a job but rather as self-employment or a personal business. Instead of being employed by a single company or organization, freelance professionals offer their creative skills as a pay-per-service to various individuals and companies. 

Likewise, freelance creative professionals can also take on contract work. This allows a creative to sign an agreement with a company to complete a project over a designated amount of time. But it does not deem the creative as an employee of that entity. 

The demand for creative freelance work is always growing with platforms such as Fiverr , which offers creatives opportunities to sell their work such as graphic design, voice acting and more. 

Talented and experienced freelance creatives can also take on much bigger endeavors and produce complete campaigns and projects for big brands, if you are one of them you can offer your time and skills in platforms like WorkingNotWorking .    

Employed Creative 

Creative skills are in demand in many different industries, such as advertising, fashion, architecture, music and more. Companies are looking for talented individuals who can fit into positions such as design, photography, copywriting, editing, illustration, etc. and some may eventually move into management roles. 

Creative management jobs allow creatives to use their skills to guide both the company’s creative processes and the employees’ artistic processes.

Creative managers — like art directors — often control higher-risk creative and decision-making abilities. Depending on the specific management position at hand, creatives may need to demonstrate proof of education and experience to gain the role.

Creative Side Hustle

Not all creatives are ready to leave their current job just yet, and that’s okay — that’s what a side hustle is for. A side hustle allows artistic people to use their skills as a service without committing to an entire business venture. 

Writing, photography, and graphic design are just a fraction of the creative professions that make money as a side hustle while offering flexibility for those balancing a full-time job. Here are 25 different creative careers that can start as a side hustle and blossom into a full-time career.

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Creative Writing Careers: Exploring Future Prospects for Aspiring Writers

creative writing career

In a world where technology continues to evolve, and traditional job roles are being redefined, creative writing careers have emerged as exciting and viable options for individuals with a passion for words. Gone are the days when writing was solely confined to the realm of literature or journalism. Today, the demand for skilled writers extends across various industries, offering a plethora of opportunities for those seeking a career in writing. In this blog post, we will delve into the diverse career prospects available to future writers and explore how this field continues to evolve in the digital age.

1. Content Creation and Copywriting: 

As the digital landscape expands exponentially, the need for engaging and persuasive content has never been greater. Companies, both large and small, are constantly in search of skilled writers to create compelling content for their websites, blogs, social media platforms, and marketing campaigns. A content creation and copywriting career allows writers to showcase their creativity while delivering impactful messages to target audiences.

2. Editing and Publishing: 

Behind every great writer is an equally great editor. The publishing industry relies heavily on professionals with a keen eye for detail and a deep understanding of language and grammar. Whether it's working for a publishing house, literary agency, or as a freelance editor, there are ample opportunities for aspiring writers to embark on a career path that involves refining and polishing the work of others.

3. Technical Writing and Documentation: 

Technical writing is a specialized field that involves translating complex concepts into clear and concise language. Software development, engineering, and healthcare industries require skilled technical writers to create user manuals, product documentation, and instructional guides. This career path blends writing with a strong understanding of technical subjects, making it an excellent option for those who enjoy both writing and problem-solving.

4. Journalism and Freelance Writing: 

While the rise of digital media has disrupted traditional journalism, it has opened up new avenues for writers to share their perspectives and expertise. Journalists now leverage online platforms, such as blogs and independent publications, to report on various topics and directly engage with their audiences. Additionally, freelance writing offers the flexibility to work on diverse projects, ranging from feature articles to ghostwriting books, enabling writers to build a versatile portfolio.

5. Teaching and Writing Education:

For writers who have a passion for sharing their knowledge and nurturing the next generation of wordsmiths, a career in teaching or writing education can be immensely rewarding. Many universities and educational institutions offer creative writing programs where experienced writers can serve as mentors and instructors. Moreover, online platforms and workshops allow writers to create their own courses and share their expertise with a global audience.

creative writing career

The realm of creative writing careers has expanded significantly in recent years, offering aspiring writers a range of exciting prospects. From content creation and copywriting to editing, technical writing, journalism, and teaching, the opportunities in this field are diverse and ever-evolving. With the advent of the digital age, writers have found new platforms to express their creativity and connect with audiences worldwide. Whether you dream of becoming a novelist, a blogger, or a copywriter for a major brand, the path to a fulfilling writing career is within reach. Embrace your passion, hone your skills , and seize the opportunities that lie ahead as a future writer. For more ideas, check out The Big List of Careers for Writers .

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On Nov. 2, author David Anthony Durham led a writing workshop and discussed his oeuvre. This event was part of the Creative Writing Reading Series and was co-sponsored by the Mandel Center for the Humanities.

Prof. Stephen McCauley (ENG), the co-director of the creative writing program, gave an introduction. The event was supported by the Dafna Zamarripa-Gesundheit Endowment, and McCauley explained that the endowment was created to memorialize Dafna Zamarripa-Gesundheit, who was a Brandeis student. 

During the talk, Durham emphasized that perseverance is essential for writers and highlighted advice from author Octavia E. Butler. Butler believed that the most important trait for a writer to have is persistence. Out of the students Durham has worked with, the ones who kept trying, worked through rejection, and remained incredibly patient with the writing process were the ones who made progress. “Forget about talent, whether or not you have any. Because it doesn’t really matter,” Butler stated . “I don’t feel that I have any particular literary talent at all. It was what I wanted to do, and I followed what I wanted to do.”

Similarly, author Neil Gaiman stated that it’s normal if one’s writing doesn’t appeal to everyone. Gaiman’s mindset influenced Durham and showed him that writers should showcase their work even if not everybody likes it. Gaiman stated that ideas can come from anywhere, whether that be at the airport, from one’s imagination, from daydreaming, or from boredom. However, “the only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we’re doing it,” according to Gaiman. Durham added that “we [also] write things down.” Durham relates to Gaiman’s statement, and as an undergraduate student, there was a moment when he realized that he had ideas but was not writing them down. His decision to start writing was a significant step because he “was attempting to put them on paper, to make them tangible, shareable, so that I could remember what I’d written, ... develop the stories better, and maybe hopefully other folks could read them.”  

Just as Gaiman found inspiration at an airport, Stephen King and Suzanne Collins’ work also drew from mundane occurrences. King fell asleep on a plane ride once and dreamt of a woman who imprisoned a writer and killed, skinned, and fed him to a pig; she then bound the writer’s novel in his own skin. King’s dream provided the basis for his novel “Misery.” Meanwhile, Collins was flipping through channels on television and saw a show where young people were trying to win money. Then she came across footage of the Iraq War, “and these two things began to fuse together in a very unsettling way … that is the moment where I got the idea for Katniss’s story,” Collins told Scholastic.       

Although Durham said that he has never found a story in a dream, he has often taken ideas from the news. He described that when he switches to writing mode, “It’s like an antenna that is always picking up things [and] stealing from the world, from news, from mystery, and finding a good idea and making it your own in some particular way.” 

Durham also delved into how his stories challenge other authors’ portrayals of Black characters. He used Victor LaValle as an example. LaValle grew up reading the horror stories of H.P. Lovecraft and enjoyed them. However, as he got older, he recognized the racism evident in Lovecraft’s work, which created conflicting feelings. LaValle wrote his book “The Ballad Of Black Tom” to criticize the prejudice in Lovecraft’s books. 

Similarly, Durham wrote his first book “Gabriel’s Story” partly as a criticism of Cormac McCarthy’s depiction of a Black character in his novel “Blood Meridian.” Durham admired  McCarthy’s writing style but took issue with its treatment of Black characters. He wanted to write a Western with an African American character as the center of the story. Moreover, as a history major for most of his college experience –– before switching to an English major –– he fell “in love with the unexplored history of African Americans in the American West.” Durham read an excerpt from “Gabriel’s Story.”

His second book “Walk Through Darkness” was also historical fiction. It combines a story of immigration from Scotland, a story of slavery, and the forced migration of African Americans to America. The book reflects his family in two ways: his wife and her family, who are from Scotland, and also his own family. He also read an excerpt from this novel. 

“Pride of Carthage” was inspired by a college lecture on Hannibal Barca and the Second Punic War. Durham wanted to explore how the war affected everyone, and he “had no interest in telling the story of the war from one perspective, or from Hannibal’s perspective. It needed to be about everyone who was caught up in it.” 

Durham also read a section from “The Risen.” The book is about “the legendary gladiator Spartacus and the vast slave revolt he led that came ever so close to bringing Rome, with its supposedly invincible legions, to its knees.” His original idea was a vampire and werewolf novel, but his publisher rejected the idea. He joked that there are still some elements in the book reminiscent of vampires and werewolves, though.  

Durham additionally authored a trilogy of fantasy novels called the Acacia Series that includes “Acacia: The War with the Mein,” “The Other Lands,” and “The Sacred Band.” “The Shadow Prince” and its sequel “The Longest Night in Egypt” are part of his middle grade solarpunk fantasy series. According to his website, his stories were featured in four of George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards novels: “Fort Freak,” “Lowball,” “High Stakes,” “Texas Hold ‘Em,” and “Pairing Up.” 

In addition to his literary work, Durham has consulted for several shows in development at HBO and is currently writing the film adaption of “The Ice Dragon” by George R.R. Martin. For his collaboration with George R.R. Martin for the “Wild Cards” novels, Durham had to create his own signature character which had not been done before in the series. Many of his ideas were rejected, but he finally found an idea when he saw his young son Sage’s drawings. Sage had a binder with character worksheets inside, and each page had a drawing of the character, the character’s name, their origin story, nemesis, special powers, and weaknesses. One of them was a character named Black Tongue, and Black Tongue became the basis for the first character that was accepted for the series.

Durham has also taught at many places, and he is now teaching at the Stonecoast MFA Program of the University of Southern Maine. He received the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Fiction Award in 1992, the 2002 Legacy Award for Debut Fiction, and was a Finalist for the 2006 Legacy Award for Fiction. He won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2009. Durham also mentioned his connection to Brandeis through his mother, who attended the University in the 1960s and was the first person in his family to go to college. 

After his mother passed away in 2001, he did not want to take life for granted. He started thinking about what his next novel would be, and he turned to the fantasy genre, ultimately resulting in his “Acacia” trilogy. When he was young, he admits that he was a reluctant reader; however, fantasy helped nurture his love for books, and his favorite authors included J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and Ursula K. Le Guin. For the trilogy, he wanted “to write a fantasy world [that] was a lot more representative of our world’s diversity.”    

After Durham’s talk, there was a raffle to win free editions of his books. Four winners were chosen from a bucket containing slips of paper with people’s names on them. People could also purchase his novels and get them signed by him. 

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