Careers in Creative Writing

By Saima Rashid

Creative-WritingAll writing is creative to a degree. Writers must think of words to use, how to organize their thoughts and how to appeal to an audience. However, creative writing tends to refer to writing specific types of things that include poetry, drama, short stories, personal essays, long and short fiction and some non-fiction. It goes beyond writing in certain formats like journalism or technical work, and there are sometimes grey areas where writing is both creative and professional.

In many colleges and in some vocational schools people can study creative writing and they may also study it at the high school level. Those who want to major in this art should expect to do a lot of reading. They’ll read example material from some of the best writers in the world, past or present, and they’ll also read books, texts and guidelines on how to begin or enhance their writing skills. It almost goes without saying that someone studying creative writing will need to spend a lot of time practicing the art form too.

In college settings, students may earn a BFA, or Bachelor of Fine Arts degree by studying creative writing. Some people earn a BA in English literature instead, but have had a primary focus on creative works in their college studies. Students can also progress to the graduate level and there are many programs that offer an MFA or Master of Fine Arts degree in the area of creative writing. Some doctoral programs exist that may offer this study too, though these are still relatively rare.

When people want to write primarily plays or screenplays, they may study for this separately. They’re still likely to earn a fine arts degree but it might be in screenwriting or in drama instead. This can depend on the school, but many people who choose to specialize in one of these areas look for a school that offers this specific focus.

It isn’t always necessary to major in creative writing or in fields like English to choose this as a career. People may come to it from a variety of directions or disciplines. John Grisham was a lawyer before he penned works like The Firm, and JK Rowling did her university studies in French. Other writers like Laurie R. King, have studied in diverse fields like religious studies.

There are many potential paths to having a writing career. While some people will go to school to study, others learn by doing, and might take the occasional creative writing workshop. There are many of these located online and in numerous local communities.

It should be stated that some of the most successful writers in the world never took a class on creative writing, but it can certainly help. It is important to have good writing skills, which means at minimum most creative writers need to understand grammatical conventions and the art forms in which they work. They must possess, in general, very strong language skills.

A degree in this field is certainly not a requirement, but persistence is, in addition to being able to take criticism. Most writers are used to having their work rejected, repeatedly. The field is also not one where most will hit the jackpot and make tons of money.

Yet many may make a living at least, if they continue to work and submit work, and there are now many ezines and Internet sites that pay a little bit for creative works, in addition to the more traditional publications like magazines and if you like write and are wondering how to take your passion and turn it into a job you will enjoy, consider the following 15 writing career options.

Some creative choices you might want to consider are writing (1) poetry, (2) fiction, (3) plays, (4) screenplays, (5) TV scripts, (6) comedy material, and (7) trivia. Although the odds of succeeding in any of these endeavors are not great, there are still many people who are successful writing in these various genres.

Both poets and short writers can market their work to magazines and online publications. There are also numerous contests available that both poets and short story writers can enter. Novelists will need a publisher for their work. One great place to start looking is The Writer’s Market.

Playwrights can also enter contests but they can also approach theaters directly that might be interested in staging and performing their work. For screenplay and TV writers, they need to write a spec script and send it to an agent who can market it for them.

In the case of the TV writer, the script is not often purchased; instead, it serves as an example of the kind of work you can do and often opens doors for you to pitch story ideas to various shows. If you have a good sense of humor and enjoy making up jokes, consider writing comedy material.

Comedians are always looking for new jokes and monologues. You can contact comedians directly, offering to write some material for them on speculation. If they like your stuff, they just might hire you. Another fun thing to write is trivia questions. You can create crosswords, word searches, puzzles, etc. Many magazines and newspapers buy this sort of material, and if you write enough of it, you can actually create a book that you can publish books.


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