Becoming a full-time, professional writer is the dream of many individuals, as it is a creative, diverse profession that can be very lucrative. If you have ever dreamed about becoming a writer, then you probably have wondered how to get into the career. Writing can be a slightly confusing career path to break into, as becoming a writer is not as straightforward as other professions.
Whether you dream of writing scripts or reporting on sporting events, this guide is here to help you learn all you need to know about starting a career as a writer.
What does a Career as a Writer Look Like?
Before outlining the path to starting off your career as a writer, it is first useful to outline what a career as a writer actually looks like. There are so many different areas of specialization as a writer that it is useful to decide what specific form of writing interests you the most before you start off in your career. Of course, writing is a transferable skill, so you do not necessarily need to stick to one form of writing your whole career, but choosing a specialization early can help you get into a writing job more quickly.
The list below outlines some possible jobs that you could have as a professional writer.
Otherwise known as a screenwriter, this is a writer who specializes in writing scripts. Scriptwriters might be asked to write for plays, films, television programs, video games, or short forms of content such as YouTube videos.
An author creates original work, typically a book which can either be can be fiction or non-fiction. An author usually works with a publisher who gives them an advance on their book so they can afford to concentrate on writing. However, it is not necessary to work with a publisher while writing, as many very successful authors, like J.K Rowling, wrote the first Harry Potter without the support of a publishing house.
A blogger is someone who writes specifically for an online blog. A blogger might work as a freelance writer, writing content for other people’s blogs, or write for their own site.
A freelance writer is an individual who will work with different companies and organizations providing writing services. Freelance writers usually work with an agency or have some form of management to help them win writing work.
Journalists are trained to collect information and evidence and express this to the reader in an easily digestible format. There are many different types of journalism, such as news and current affairs, sport, and fashion journalism. Journalists that work full time at one specific organization are sometimes called staff writers.
A speechwriter is an individual who is hired to prepare and write speeches that will then be delivered by another person. Speechwriters might specialize in writing speeches for elected officials and executives in either the government or private sector. Alternatively, a speechwriter could be employed to write speeches for weddings or social events.
Songwriters are individuals who write the musical composition and the lyrics for a song. Many musicians use the services of a songwriter, and successful songwriters can be in very high demand.
The role of a technical writer is to communicate information between two or more parties. The technical writer will research and then present information in an accessible format. Some examples of technical writing include white papers and e-learning resources.
A copywriter is responsible for writing content and advertising copy for companies. Copywriters can work freelance or can be employed full-time by a business or advertising company.
The job of a scribe is to either write down speech as it is written. This type of role is becoming less popular due to the advancement of speech-to-text software, but it is still used.
A reviewer will write an evaluation of many different forms of service or experience, such as a play, a restaurant hotel, a movie, or musical composition.
A poet is an individual who specializes in writing poetry.
There are also a number of jobs that are associated with writing that you might be interested in. For example, you could work as a content editor, a newspaper editor, or a proofreader. While these roles do not involve writing specifically, they are a key part of the professional writing process and require skill and creativity.
How to Get Your Writing Career Off the Ground
Now that you have learned a little bit more about what the potential job opportunities you might be interested in look like, it is time to focus on how you can begin to get your writing career off the ground. The following list outlines the typical steps that one takes to become a successful full-time writer.
1. Graduate from High School
The first step to starting a successful career as a writer is to graduate from high school. Graduating from high school is typically seen as the minim requirement that you need to become a professional writer.
The more writing experience that you can gain throughout your life, the better prepared you are to become a successful professional writer. So, at school, you might choose to take courses that specialize in writing or literature. You might also choose to work for the school paper or yearbook.
2. Get Your Bachelor’s Degree
Once you have graduated from high school, the next step on the path to becoming a successful professional writer is to gain a bachelor’s degree. There are a few different types of degrees you might choose when looking to become a professional writer. For example, you could study English literature, journalism, creative writing, or marketing.
During your time at university, it is useful to try to concentrate on building your writing portfolio. You could write for the college paper or take some writing courses or modules to gain more experience.
3. Consider Studying for an MA
Writing can be a very competitive field, especially if you are interested in working in a crowded field like journalism. To set yourself apart from the competition, it is useful to gain an additional qualification after you have completed your bachelor’s degree. Working for an MA will show a prospective employer how dedicated you are and help you to gain skills that other candidates might not have.
It is useful to specialize at this point, to gain as much value as possible out of your master’s degree. So, if you are interested in sports journalism, make sure to study at a sports journalism college rather than just studying generalized writing or literature.
4. Work as an Intern
Working as an intern does not have to occur after you have finished with your education, in fact, many people choose to complete an internship during a summer off from college. Completing an internship is a great way to gain real-world experience in a professional writing field.
As an intern, it is quite unlikely that you will be asked to do much real writing, but it is a great experience to learn more about how a professional writing environment functions. Completing an internship is also a great way to stand out to an employer and make yourself a more desirable candidate.
5. Write as Much as You Can
Writing is a craft, which means that the more you do, the more practice you get, the better you perform. Writing as much as you can is an essential step to building your portfolio and developing your skills.
You should try to take as many opportunities to write, professional or not, as you can when you are starting out. Even if the opportunity might be for work that you don’t wish to do forever, it is a great opportunity. Writing in different styles and for different purposes will also likely help you learn more than if you always stuck to one style.
Taking the Path Less Traveled By
The steps above outline the conventional path that is taken to become a professional writer. While this path does make getting your career as a writer off the ground much easier, it is by no means the only way of becoming a professional writer.
If you are not able to study at college or even gain a high school diploma, that does not mean that you will never be able to become a professional writer. If you are a ferocious reader and are a dedicated writer, then you can develop the skills and knowledge you will need as a professional writer.
It might be a bit more difficult to get your foot in the door if you don’t have the qualifications that other candidates do, but that does not mean that you will not be able to work as a professional writer.
Concentrate on writing as much as you can and developing an outstanding portfolio. While it might be more difficult to compete in the competitive writing world, that will not exclude you. If you have an outstanding portfolio, then your writing will speak for itself, and you are sure to gain the position you desire as a professional writer; it might just take a bit more time.