In my post about the things they don’t tell you when you’re getting a creative writing degree, I made a reference to all the different career options out there for creative writer types. I figured that merited it’s own post entirely, considering there really are a ton of options you may not realize you have.
This is actually something I’d written up and had published before my website went down, but it’s worth revisiting and republishing for people who are interested in being professional “writers” even if that doesn’t mean they have a book out yet (or aren’t making enough on that book to live on–which will be the vast majority of us).
But let’s face it–most writers never successfully publish their books, and if they do, they make pennies compared to the JK Rowlings of the world. Most writers are “working writers.” In other words, they have the job they do to pay their bills, and then the write.
Unfortunately, many writers end up in a position they hate. They want to write for a living, but instead they find themselves cashiering at Target or waitressing instead. Well, good news, folks! Here are some great career ideas for people who want to get paid for writing!
Though it is a way different style of writing, journalism still involves very clever wordcraft and can be an extremely satisfactory job for writers who like to be social and have a very succinct style. Unfortunately, there is little creative leeway here unless you get into reviews or columns.
Writers who simply love to write and don’t care whether their name is attached to a work may enjoy ghostwriting. The major benefit is getting paid to write, but if the idea of someone else’s name going on your work makes you itch, it might not be for you.
In the technology age (which is, by the way, what we’re living in), tech writers can make bank if they can do it well. Though it can seem a bit tedious, the technology industry will never run out of a need for writers who can convey complex, scientific information in an easy-to-digest way.
Writing website, marketing, advertising, or other kinds of copy can be extremely lucrative. Copywriters tend to work freelance and carry clients or work under a single company. Copy writing has some interesting correlations with creative writing that make it a lot of fun (this is what I do).
Unfortunately, becoming a successful screenwriter is almost as difficult as getting your novel published, but for people with the right connections, it’s an excellent way to get your plot-line-writing itch scratched. Additionally, you tend to work with awesome people, like Tom Hanks (seriously, I know a writer who worked with Tom Hanks–whaaat!?).
At the end of the day, if you can’t get into a writing career, you can always try editing. Reading tends to be a big pastime for writers, and writers tend to (whether they like it or not) edit while they read, so why not make money out of it? The downfall obviously is that you aren’t technically “writing,” and you’ll end up reading some real crap work, but hey–it’s better than serving food.
Similar to editing, you can always go the publishing route. Working at a press, small or large, or a literary agency is an option for many writers. It keeps you immersed in the field and could even make the connections you need to get your own work published. To be honest, though, I suspect this is a pretty tough industry to get into as well.
Those who can’t, teach–right? Wrong. Teaching can be extremely valuable for writers. Teaching writing or English classes at least keeps you involved in a subject you love, and let’s not forget that teachers get an entire summer to work on their manuscripts. Teaching, though, is the furthest removed from actually writing, so you’ll have to take that into consideration.
Ultimately, though, this also goes back to another point I made: most people who are hiring you as a writer will want to see legitimate experience and education in the field. If you haven’t already enrolled or graduated with a creative writing degree, or you don’t have any previous writing experience, now might be the time to get at it!