how to start creative writing career

How To Launch A Writing Career

So, you want a writing career…

You have your reasons. You’ve long loved to write, and people have told you you have a way with words.

But how do you know the time is right or whether you have what it takes?

I urge you to immerse yourself in the craft. If you really want to make a career of it, make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into.

Full-time writing is not a hobby, a diversion, an avocation. It means discipline. It’s a job.

And it’s not easy.

But, oh, the rewards…

I’m one of the lucky ones, knowing I wanted to be a writer from my early teens and going at it with a passion I’d shown for nothing else.

But even that didn’t guarantee success. It guaranteed only that I would not quit, could not be dissuaded, would never give up regardless.

I became a sports writer before I was old enough to drive, sports editor of a daily newspaper at 19, a magazine editor at 22, a magazine publisher at 28, a book publisher at 31.

On the side I pursued book writing and became an author at 24, a novelist at 29, and decades later I’ve had nearly 200 books published, 21 of those New York Times bestsellers (including The Left Behind Series™), and more than 70 million copies sold.

Several of my novels have been made into movies, and I’ve written the first-person as-told-to autobiographies of countless superstar athletes (Hank Aaron, Walter Payton, Orel Hershiser, Nolan Ryan, Meadowlark Lemon, et al ).

I tell you all that not to brag but to say I’ve been in the game for decades and have enjoyed a career most people only dream of.

The bottom line? Dreamers talk about writing. Writers write.

You don’t have to be overly prolific to enjoy a writing career. But you do have to produce, and that takes knowledge and training.

I wasn’t born a good writer, and VERY few are.

So if you want a writing career, where do you start?

Among the steps necessary to grow as a writer , you’ll want to:

  • Read as many books on the craft as you can get your hands on, starting with with my favorites .
  • Spend time writing—maybe even take a journalism class or online writing course.
  • Avoid starting with a book. Beginning your writing career with a book is like enrolling in graduate school when you should be in kindergarten. You have a lot to learn first.

You may dreamt of this for years, putting it off because you’re not sure you’re good enough.

Would you believe I didn’t become a full-time writer until after my 90th book was published? Until then, I worked full-time and wrote during my extremely limited free time.

Only after I lined up enough book projects to pay me three times what I was making in salary did I feel in a position to quit my day job. Even then, the decision wasn’t easy.

Because it’s not just your salary that must be replaced. It’s ALL your expenses, including your pension, benefits, supplies, even your off days and vacations.

And my biggest breakout project, Left Behind, was hardly my first book, or even my 50th. It was my 125th.

Again, you don’t have to aim for dozens and dozens of books to have a writing career. But here’s….

  • How To Start A Writing Career in 10 Steps

how to start creative writing career

Writing is hard work, but becoming known as a writer is even harder.

You won’t likely begin with many cheerleaders.

So, how badly do you want this?

1. Don’t wait to call yourself a writer.

You don’t have to be published to be a writer. You’re a writer if you’re writing—working at it, learning, progressing.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a novice.

Every writer you can name began unknown and unpublished.

2. Don’t quit.

You’ll find more than enough reasons to give up. Determine to write no matter what.

Study, research, grow, develop a thick skin, work hard, accept editing and input—painful as they can be, and learn to become an aggressive, even ferocious self-editor .

Get your seat in the chair every day and get words on the page. They won’t all be perfect, but writing is the only way to get better at it.

3. Write from your passions.

I was a sports fanatic as a kid, dreaming of becoming a big league baseball player. Every book report I wrote in junior high was about baseball, until my teacher insisted I broaden my reading.

I read Sports Illustrated , the sports section of our local newspaper, and anything else sports-related.

My father created a dice baseball game that occupied me for hours. I wrote about each game as if I were a sports writer .

At age fourteen, I talked my way into a sports stringer job covering high school sports for the local newspaper. I was paid a dollar per column inch that survived the sports editor’s edits, making me a professional writer.

At nineteen, I became sports editor for that paper. My passion had become my profession.

4. Work at it every day.

Would you believe I still work at honing my writing skills every day?

I believe that if I’m not growing, I’m stagnating. Writers who think they have arrived get lazy and become obsolete.

5. Create your writer’s website.

When you begin pitching your work to agents and publishers , they’ll look you up on the Internet.

Your website becomes your calling card, your portfolio, and it also allows you to begin building the following you need to become a full time writer.

6. Look for opportunities.

Do you volunteer with an organization that could use writing help? Is your local newspaper looking for content?

Opportunities, paid and unpaid, can give you valuable experience.

Be willing to do what nobody else will do.

7. Seek like-minded writers.

Most writers I know are surrounded by a helpful community that helps them deal with:

  • Frustration
  • Discouragement
  • Procrastination
  • Wanting to quit

Another pair of eyes on your work can prove invaluable. Ten pairs of eyes are even better.

That’s why I recommend finding a writers critique group or a mentor.

Be prepared to take an ego-bruising at first. You’ll become a better writer by being held accountable and encouraged to stick with it.

One caveat: Be sure at least one person in the group—preferably the leader—is experienced and understands the writing business. A group of all beginners risks the blind leading the blind.

8. Network, network, network.

Meet people in your community. Get involved. Volunteer. Build relationships.

Introduce yourself and get to know writers who you admire.

Gaining experience isn’t just about writing; it’s about building relationships. The more people you know, the more opportunities will come your way.

A writer career can mean more than just writing books. You could become a journalist, a medical writer, a translator, a business plan writer—all niche markets need writers.

As a freelancer, you can’t be all things to all people (especially when you’re first starting out). So, you need to pick an area of focus.

Here are a few of the most popular writing career paths:

Do you have a story idea that so captures you you can’t get it out of your mind?

Maybe you’re meant to write a novel .

Start by immersing yourself in short stories and trying your hand at writing them. You’ll learn the business, how to interact with an editor, and you can benefit from the feedback.

Nonfiction Writer  

Categories include, but aren’t limited to: articles, autobiographies, biographies, essays, memoirs, nature writing, reviews, profiles, reports, sports writing, how-to, self-help, and travel writing.

The demand for nonfiction is huge —and nonfiction writers have produced some of the most influential books of our time.

Comic Book Writer

This is an art form best accomplished through teamwork. The writer is the visionary—he creates the plot, characters , and story. Illustrators create the art.

Video Game Writer

Like comic book writing, video game writing is an art form in which teamwork is a given.

The video game writer works with developers, animators, graphic designers, and voice actors and creates the plot, characters , and scripts dialogue.

Journalist  

Do you love news and have the ability to be objective?

The best journalists have stellar research skills and the ability to detach from the story in order to give the most accurate, neutral account possible.

Journalists write for newspapers, magazines, news websites, or creates scripts for television news broadcasters.

Web Content Creator

Individuals, companies, and organizations need content for blogs , social media, and websites and often hire freelance writers.

It helps to be versed in SEO, HTML, CSS, and WordPress and also be a social media specialist.

As opposed to a journalist, a columnist writes opinions and perspective on current events.

Songwriter (Lyricist)

A songwriter is a poet who writes song lyrics.

Greeting Card Writer

This is a competitive art form that requires writing a concise, moving message—humorous or compassionate—that appeals to a broad audience.

Speechwriter  

Politicians aren’t the only ones who need speeches written. So do government officials, business executives, celebrities, and PR firms. Some even hire writers to craft wedding speeches and toasts.

An excellent speechwriter gets to know the voice of the person doing the speaking, researches the subject, and prepares the speech.

Screenwriter

Writing scripts for movies, cartoons, and television programs may be the most collegial of all freelance writing. Up to a dozen people may have a role in producing a script.

Working on a movie set or the stage and learning the business is helpful for writing in this field.

Technical Writer  

If you can turn complicated jargon into something readable and understandable, technical writing might be for you.

Grant Writer  

A grant writer finds funding sources, conducts research, and writes proposals seeking money for foundations, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and corporations.

Ghostwriter  

A ghostwriter writes but doesn’t get the credit.

He’s often the writer behind social media posts, scripts, speeches, blog posts and other web content, and even books. He could be doing any of the jobs listed here, but remains behind the scenes.

Ghostwriting requires you to get excited about someone else’s message, to write in their voice, and to be quiet about the work you do.

Copywriter  

A copywriter creates publicity and advertising copy, including brochures, billboards, websites, emails, and catalogs. He must know how to say a lot with few words, conveying a powerful message that invokes action.  

10. Respect the profession.

Writing is hard, exhausting work, and if it isn’t, you’re probably not doing it right.

Writing a book is especially daunting because of the sheer magnitude of it. Attack it the way you would eat an elephant—one bite at a time.

Don’t let fear of failure stop you. Even the most successful writers are afraid there’s too much competition and that they’re not good enough.

Don’t try to overcome that fear. Embrace it! It’s valid! Let it motivate you to do your best work every time.

Follow these steps, and you may find there’s room for you in this business.

Welcome to the writing career you’ve always wanted..

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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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how to start creative writing career

How To Launch A Writing Career: 10 Tips For Success

launch a writing career

by Sarah Rexford

Many creatives want to launch a writing career , but taking the steps to do so is a frequent roadblock. The good news is, if you want to launch a writing career and are committed to doing so, you’re likely to succeed. 

Of course, the definition of success is subjective to each writer, but with the proper guidance, execution, and willingness for feedback, there are steps you can take today to help launch a writing career you love.

In this article, I discuss the ten tips that can help, how to start freelance writing, and how to start a book. Whether you want to work full-time as a freelancer or as an author, you can use these tips to help you begin your journey. 

Launch A Writing Career With These 10 Tips

Learning how to launch a writing career can feel overwhelming, but by following a few tips, you can take long strides toward your goal. Let’s start off with the basics and then move into your mindset. 

#1 – Learn Writing Rules

Whether you knew there were writing rules or this is the first time hearing about them, writing rules matter. You may dream of starting a career writing fiction, articles, or short stories. Regardless of your chosen path, learning the rules is imperative. 

Show don’t tell, writing actively , focusing on strong nouns and verbs over numbers adjectives, and mastering the art of point-of-view are a few rules that will take your writing to the next level. 

#2 – Commit To Becoming A Self-Editor

Everyone who wants to launch a writing career starts with some form of a rough draft. However, just because you start with a rough draft doesn’t mean you need to submit your rough draft. Learn to edit your own work until it is as perfect as you can make it—only then should you submit it to an agent, editor, client, or publish it.

#3 – Practice Every Day

When I first started music lessons as a child, my instructor recommended I practice a little bit every day, rather than cram my practice in on the weekend. You can apply this routine to writing as well. The more frequently you immerse yourself in the craft the quicker you will grow.

#4 – Test Your Work 

It can feel intimidating, even scary, to share your work with others, but small tests are helpful ways to track your progress. Consider sharing a part of your work via a social media caption. Test how viewers react. Does it resonate? Do they want to read more? With your newfound data, continue your journey to launch a writing career.

#5 – Consider Investing In A Mentorship 

Particularly early on, working with a coach, mentor, or instructor can help you as you guide yourself in the right direction. There are many writers who are just enough steps ahead of you that they can:

  • Relate to where you are in your journey 
  • Help you effectively move forward 

I’ve found investing in mentors is well worth it. 

#6 – Make Use Of Beta Readers 

Beta readers read your work before it is published for the purpose of providing you with helpful feedback. Other writers are often eager to provide this service free of charge, especially if you have some form of previously established relationship. 

#7 – Treat Your Work Like It’s Your Primary Income

If you want to launch a writing career that can one day replace your current income, treat your side hustle with seriousness. Prioritize your paid work, but devote the necessary time to your writing. 

#8 – Establish Healthy Habits 

Simple, healthy habits help you succeed long term. To launch a writing career you can sustain, don’t forest to invest in an ergonomic keyboard, comfortable writing chair, and paying attention to maintaining correct posture. 

#9 – Talk About Your Work

Word of mouth is one of the best marketing tactics we have today. The more you talk about how you want to launch a writing career, the more networking possibilities you will gain.

#10 – Focus On The Long Game

Overnight successes usually take years, if not decades, of work. Don’t give up. 

How To Start Freelance Writing

To launch a writing career that focuses on the freelance niché, you will need to focus on learning the art of copywriting. Writing as a freelancer often comes down to writing words that translate into revenue for your customer. To give yourself the best chance at success, study:

  • Interpersonal relationships 
  • Your target audience’s pain points 

Next, reach out to brands you are familiar with and offer your services. If you have previous work or maintain a professional website, consider adding a portfolio page where you can showcase your work to build credibility.  

And finally, remember to keep track of your contacts. The one-off gig you did may not feel important in the moment, but you never know how your contact could come in handy in the future. In other words, don’t burn your bridges, but work to keep them standing strong. 

How To Start A Book

If you desire to launch a writing career as an author, your journey will look quite a bit different. Whether you choose to self-publish or traditionally publish, you will need to work through the following steps: 

  • Identify the book idea you are most passionate about
  • Write and edit your book
  • Brainstorm your marketing strategy 

However, without actually starting your book, the above points won’t prove helpful. So, how do you start writing your book? 

  • Usually it’s best to choose the one you are most passionate about sharing
  • Who has the most at stake? 
  • Who’s character arc will be most compelling?
  • Your first sentence must keep readers moving to the second sentence, third, and so forth.
  • Introduction to protagonist 
  • Any details pertinent to your specific first page 

Once you start your book, you are well on your way to launch a writing career. Getting started is sometimes the most difficult step! 

After You Launch A Writing Career: Steps For The Journey

Oftentimes, the journey up to the launch is exciting, filled with adrenaline, late nights, early mornings, and for some, quite a bit of caffeine. But if you plan to launch a writing career, what happens after you decide to sit down and just…start? This is where persistence, perseverance, and patience come in. 

When it feels difficult to continue, persistently remind yourself why you started. This will help you refocus, re-engage, and re-commit. 

Persevere 

No matter if you write books or articles, continuing to meet your daily word count goals can feel anything but glamorous. The writing life is often romanticized, and in many points it is, but it’s also grueling. Before you begin, commit to persevere . 

Be Patient 

And finally, be patient with your progress. Slow and steady often wins out over fast, overnight growth. Choose a pace you can sustain and be patient as you work, day by day, toward your goal. The journey may feel slow at times, but it it is so worth it!

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how to start creative writing career

How to start a writing career: 7 bright ideas

  • Post author By Jordan
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how to start creative writing career

Starting a story or novel is challenging enough. But how do you start a writing career , one of longevity and rewarding opportunities taken? Read 7 ideas for how to start a writing career:

How to build a writing career:

Invest in your skills every day, balance theory with praxis, manage expectations, define what ‘writing career’ means to you, get support, take writing opportunities, practice positive promotion.

The same principles apply, whether you’re asking how to start a writing career or wish to pursue another calling. Invest in your skills as often as you can.

When we invest in something, we may invest:

Many aspiring writers invest in the third category out of proportion to the first. Yet making time to write is essential for truly expanding your writing ability. Wanting it and raw talent are great, but so is putting in the work. Make time to write, every day. On how to launch a writing career, Ray Bradbury says:

Just write every day. Read instensely - Ray Bradbury | Now Novel

Seek out opportunities to write to a brief (such as freelance copywriting). Learning to write on diverse subjects (even if they aren’t your greatest passion) is a valuable skill. After you’ve written a blog article about weather vanes every day for a year (true story), it’ll be easier to produce; to find words when you’re not feeling inspired.

Take free courses (such as our free 5-day email lessons on writing craft here ). Learning resources such as Coursera provide education on a broad range of fascinating subjects, including writing.

Many famous authors went to grad school for writing. Yet an MFA isn’t essential for a career in writing, as Now Novel writing coach Romy Sommer shares in this extract from her webinar on becoming a pro writer:

It is a relevant credential you can add to your byline when querying. Yet astute agents and publishers are equally interested in questions such as ‘Is it good?’ and ‘Will it sell?’ Sometimes, academia is paralysing to creativity. The background noise of theory may make it hard to hear what you want your work to be.

A career in any field involves praxis – acts of doing. If you’re studying a concept, try to make a practical exercise out of it.

For example, say you were reading about decolonisation in history. As an exercise, you could do the following:

Practical exercise: Imagining historical events

Write an indigenous character’s perspective as they watch a ship landing on a beach bearing the emissaries of an imperial power. Next, rewrite the same scene from the perspective of the settlers aboard the ship.

now novel community

Start with structured support

Structure your story with step-by-step prompts and get helpful critiques.

Rare (and talented, and lucky) is the author who ignites a bidding war between publishers for their debut.

Self-publishing has made it easier to build a writing career despite prestigious gatekeepers such as ‘Big Five’ publishers, though. It’s easier than ever to access ‘the market’ as an author. Learning how to make a career in writing no longer necessarily requires the right social network, degree, or industry ‘in’.

Yet self-publishing also requires work, of course, plus funds for:

  • Cover design (if you want your book to intrigue and stand out in the crowd)
  • Editing (developmental, copy-editing, proofreading)
  • An ISBN number (the unique identifier for your book)
  • Other book expenses

There are also other key differences between traditional vs self-publishing as models.

Hybrid-published Author Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn unpacks the core differences in her helfpul article, ‘Pros and Cons of Traditional vs Self-Publishing’.

However you choose to start your writing career, have realistic expectations. Planning and first drafts take time . Rewrites and edits take time. Publishing and marketing take time. Divide your process into small, attainable steps. Practice the two Ps – patience and perseverance.

When we say ‘how to start a writing career’, a lot hinges on how we define ‘writing career’. A writing career may mean:

  • Writing to connect to others and share stories important to you
  • Telling stories to build recognition or prestige through publication and other achievements
  • Writing to make money

None of these are mutually exclusive.

Let’s be honest about the third category, though: ‘Making money’ is not necessarily synonymous with the typical fiction writing career. As an example, a respected English lecturer won a national book award for a traditionally published book. He held up his Amazon Kindle and said ‘this is what I bought with the proceeds of my award-winning book’, with a sardonic smile on his face.

Prestige thus does not necessarily guarantee riches (though it may boost sales).

If you plan to start a writing career with making in money at the top of your priority list, remember to:

  • Research what has been published in the last year or two in similar genres/subject areas. What’s been a bestseller? What’s passé? (Publishing a love triangle story featuring sparkly vampires straight after the Twilight series, for example, wouldn’t make much sense)
  • Learn as much as you can about your market: For example, who your readers are, demographics (who reads the kind of books you want to write?), how best to reach potential readers, what you need to price your books at to sell and to break even
  • Consider a sideline in writing commercially (e.g. blogs, website copy and other formats) while you build up your list of fiction titles. Freelance websites such as Freelance Writing Jobs , Fiverr, Problogger and others have jobs boards as well as platforms for marketing your writing services and showcasing your skills

Remember, too that many working authors supplement their fiction writing income by:

  • Speaking at paid public events
  • Writing commercially (technical writing, copy-writing, blogging, speech-writing, and so forth)
  • Holding other full- or part-time jobs

Seize every opportunity to write. Commercial writing is not ‘selling out’. It may help you support your passion for fiction and develop better style.

How to start a writing career - infographic | Now Novel

When you watch roundtable discussions with authors, actors, directors and other creatives, you often hear ‘it takes a village’.

In writing, the ‘villagers’ include authors, editors, agents, beta readers, book designers and others. An online writing group is a good place to find support and build rapport with likeminded people.

If you’re starting out your year with a dream to write, surround yourself with people who will cheer you on and help you.

Novel coaching by a published author or fiction editor will help you improve as you go. Alternatively, a free online writing group (ideally) provides a safe space to share snippets, discussion, and the shared joys of reaching new milestones.

When we talk about how to start a writing career, we are already thinking about ‘the long game’.

Longevity is built on small moments of brilliance, plus lots of getting down to work. Each small achievement is a bead you’ll one day string on one colourful thread.

So seize opportunies. Enter short fiction contests (short stories provide a great practice/training grounds). Submit to journals or reputable fiction-publishing websites. Treat new opportunities as a chance to explore your writing voice under new conditions or requirements.

If you’re offered an internship or unpaid writing work for a company whose values, subjects or culture you admire, and you have the time, take it. You never know: The practice, lessons and insights you gain may more than compensate for the time you volunteer.

Social media provides many platforms to start building an audience for your writing.

Share occasional snippets or quotes from your own work. Ask your audience about their writing, what they love, too.

Do book blog tours when a release is imminent, where you can shine and show what makes your work and insight as an author one of a kind.

Building a tribe of others interested in what you’re doing also means listening and engaging. The same way that in a writing group, you trade critiques; share and listen.

What’s the best career advice you ever received? Share in the comments below. Finish your book in six months with group novel coaching including weekly Q&As, workbooks and a structured plan to help you finish.

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  • Tags writing careers

how to start creative writing career

Jordan is a writer, editor, community manager and product developer. He received his BA Honours in English Literature and his undergraduate in English Literature and Music from the University of Cape Town.

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Creative Writing Careers: Exploring Future Prospects for Aspiring Writers

how to start 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.

how to start 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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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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How to become a fiction writer

Is becoming a fiction writer right for me.

The first step to choosing a career is to make sure you are actually willing to commit to pursuing the career. You don’t want to waste your time doing something you don’t want to do. If you’re new here, you should read about:

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Still unsure if becoming a fiction writer is the right career path? Take the free CareerExplorer career test to find out if this career is right for you. Perhaps you are well-suited to become a fiction writer or another similar career!

Described by our users as being “shockingly accurate”, you might discover careers you haven’t thought of before.

How to become a Fiction Writer

Becoming a fiction writer requires dedication, perseverance, and a willingness to learn and improve your craft. Here are some steps you can take to become a fiction writer:

  • Read extensively: Reading is essential for writers because it exposes you to different styles, techniques, and voices. Reading also helps you understand the elements of storytelling and how they work together to create a great story. Make a habit of reading every day, and try to read widely and across genres.
  • Practice writing: Writing every day, even if it's just for a few minutes, is essential for improving your writing skills. Set aside a specific time each day to write, and commit to it. You can start with free writing exercises, where you write without any particular goal or direction. Over time, you can start working on specific writing projects, such as short stories, novellas, or novels.
  • Learn the craft: Learning the basics of storytelling is essential for becoming a good writer. Take classes or workshops on writing, read books on writing, and join writing groups or communities. You can also learn by analyzing the work of other writers you admire.
  • Formal education: Formal education can be beneficial if you are looking to improve your writing skills and gain a deeper understanding of literary techniques. A Bachelor's Degree in Creative Writing or English provides students with access to experienced professors and workshops.
  • Find your voice: Your writing voice is what sets you apart from other writers. Experiment with different styles and techniques until you find the one that suits you best. Don't be afraid to take risks and try new things.
  • Get feedback: Getting feedback on your writing is essential for improving your craft. Join a writing group or workshop, or hire an editor or writing coach to help you improve your work. You can also share your work with trusted friends or family members who can give you constructive feedback.
  • Submit your work: Once you feel confident in your writing, start submitting your work to literary journals, magazines, or publishers. Be prepared for rejection, but don't give up. Keep submitting and keep improving your craft. You can also consider self-publishing your work.
  • Keep learning and growing: Writing is a lifelong process of learning and growing. Continue to read, write, and learn new techniques to improve your craft. Attend writing conferences and workshops, and seek out feedback and advice from other writers. Remember, the more you practice and learn, the better writer you'll become.

Associations There are many different associations and organizations that fiction writers can join, depending on their specific interests and goals. Here are a few examples:

  • The Romance Writers of America (RWA): This is a professional association for writers of romance novels and other romantic fiction. Members have access to networking opportunities, educational resources, and contests and awards.
  • Mystery Writers of America (MWA): MWA is a professional organization for writers of crime and mystery fiction. Members receive access to networking opportunities, industry events, and resources such as webinars and newsletters.
  • Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA): This organization is for writers of science fiction and fantasy, as well as related genres such as horror and magical realism. Members receive access to networking opportunities, resources, and advocacy efforts on behalf of writers.
  • International Thriller Writers (ITW): This is a professional organization for writers of thrillers and suspense novels. Members receive access to networking opportunities, educational resources, and industry events.
  • Authors Guild: The Authors Guild is a professional organization for writers of all genres. Members receive access to legal resources, advocacy efforts on behalf of writers, and networking opportunities.
  • Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI): This organization is for writers and illustrators of children's literature, including picture books, middle grade fiction, and young adult novels. Members have access to networking opportunities, educational resources, and industry events.

Online Resources There are many online resources available for fiction writers, ranging from websites and blogs to online courses and workshops. Here are some examples:

  • Writer's Digest: Writer's Digest is a well-known resource for writers, with a wealth of articles, tips, and resources on all aspects of fiction writing, from craft to publishing.
  • Reedsy: Reedsy is an online platform that connects writers with editors, designers, and other publishing professionals. In addition to its marketplace, Reedsy offers a free writing course, blog posts on writing and publishing, and a podcast featuring interviews with industry experts.
  • The Creative Penn: The Creative Penn is a website and podcast run by Joanna Penn, a successful indie author. The site offers articles, courses, and resources on writing, self-publishing, and book marketing.
  • The Writers' Workshop: The Writers' Workshop is a UK-based writing school that offers online courses in fiction writing, as well as manuscript assessment services, editing, and coaching.
  • Coursera: Coursera offers a wide range of online courses on writing and literature, including courses on creative writing, poetry, and screenwriting.
  • Gotham Writers Workshop: Gotham Writers Workshop offers online classes in fiction writing, as well as a variety of other writing genres and topics.
  • NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a yearly event that challenges writers to write a novel in a month. While the event takes place in November, the NaNoWriMo website offers resources and support for writers year-round.

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  • how to break out of analysis paralysis

How To Shift Into A Creative Career (And Still Earn Sufficient Money)

Paints, brushes and sketchbook

Dream of pursuing a creative career, but written it off as a self-indulgent fantasy? Convinced it would mean a pay cut too far, or worried you'd end up ruining a much-loved hobby? Katie explores why following the call of your right-brain may not be as risky as it can sometimes appear, and shares (with real-world examples) a roadmap to making it a reality.

Do you dream of 'doing something creative' in your new career?

Perhaps you'd love to work in a bakery, be a landscape gardener, paint canvases all day, or animate films?

By ‘creative’, I mean the thing you’d love to do. The route you’d follow if there was no risk of failure. But for many of us, that creative path seems closed off by a big pile of doubt and uncertainty.

When we asked you, our audience, what challenges hold you back from moving into a creative career, this is what you said:

“My current career pays the bills. Looking at creative careers it always seems I'd have to take a pay cut I couldn't afford.”

“Finding time to get started while still working full-time.”

“Repositioning myself as a creative and not an office worker, and working to gain creative skills that I've neglected over the years.”

“How to make money as an artist.”

“Fear that I won’t be able to earn a living, and not knowing exactly what I want to do.”

Yet, there's often a little voice in our heads that won’t be silenced. It says our ‘creativity’ (whatever form that takes for us) is important. It’s the key to a long-term shift we genuinely love. After all, isn’t fulfilling work what we’re looking for?

In my case, I love to paint, write and make things.

I’ve worked through every aptitude test, personality type and career change book – looking for the secret that can turn these into stable employment. If I loved mathematical formulae, I could make that my job. With a good salary, and all the benefits. Instead, my creative interests feel like the short straw of career shifting. The route to making them successful is slow, foggy and rocky. It would be so much easier to stay on the safe path of a regular job… and feel unfulfilled.

Sound familiar?

If so, this article provides a road map to a viable creative career shift, based on the experiences of those who have made it happen – members of the Careershifters community who've been where you are now, and who've shifted into creative careers (without destroying their finances!).

We can break this shift into three stages:

  • Exploring ( what’s my creative shift? )
  • Reflecting ( is this a hobby or a new career? )
  • Building ( how do I build my creative career and keep a stable income? )

Let’s start with the first step...

Exploring: how to find your creative shift

how to start creative writing career

The urge to do 'something creative' can feel too vague to action. So how do we find a specific idea and test it out? Here are some methods to use before you quit your job:

Consider a simple change

Not all creative shifts involve chucking out everything you’ve done in your career so far, and running away to learn patisserie (unless that’s the vision you have in mind!).

Instead, it could start with a simple change in context.

For example, taking your current skills to a more artistic setting, such as managing finances for a gallery, or leading marketing campaigns for a theatre. Bear in mind, shifting into the arts is often lower paid and less stable than the corporate sector. But if you’re looking for more work flexibility, the trade might suit your circumstances.

Of course, you don’t have to work in the arts to feel more 'creative'. A more subtle culture shift could suit you well; for example, from an environment that feels restrictive, to one that gives you more energy and freedom.

Thea Partridge wanted to shift out of her job at a social media marketing agency. She started freelancing as a marketing consultant, alongside pursuing her passion for sculpting. Her interest in sculpture led her to a rewarding new job that uses her marketing skills:

how to start creative writing career

But what if you can’t stand the idea of doing the same type of work as before?

What if you need a complete change, but haven’t yet found the right creative activity to kick-start your shift?

Then, we need to explore further...

Find your creative activity

how to start creative writing career

Many creative shifters start without knowing what their future job title will be. They use their free time to test different creative activities, until they find the right one to spark their career change. This is inevitably a process of trial and error:

“Because I wanted to be more creative, I'd started seeking out hobbies that I would enjoy. I started with sewing classes, but I'd always liked the idea of woodworking, even though I'd never tried it before.” – Honor Dalrymple (shifted from civil engineering to furniture making)

“I'd long felt a desire to work with my hands and become skilled in a handcraft. I loved many different creative areas, so I signed up to various part-time courses, including a jewellery course and a millinery-design course at Kensington and Chelsea College in London. I also took on a short placement in a print studio.” – Joanne Edwards (shifted from fashion to millinery)

Remember, you don’t have to pay for a course to explore your options. There are plenty of free learning opportunities available:

“We live in the best time ever for learning new things. Almost anything you need to know can be found on YouTube, or the internet in general. Find it and practise it.” – George Winks (shifted from graphic design to furniture)

It’s easy to dismiss this creative exploration as a luxury or a waste of time. Especially when “What am I doing with my career?” hangs so heavily overhead. But we have to allow ourselves this phase. Otherwise how can we progress? How can we find what specific creative skill is calling us? It doesn’t matter what you start with, as long as you start.

In my own experience, I found that I already knew what creative activity I wanted to pursue; I just had to give myself permission to treat it professionally.

Pick up lost hobbies

how to start creative writing career

Do you already know what your creative shift is? Your inner eight year old might. It could be a skill that you put aside somewhere along the education / career ladder.

For example, I started painting again at the start of my career change process, for the first time in about ten years (I stopped when I went to university instead of art school).

I knew that painting canvases wasn’t an immediate job solution. But it was a way of ‘defrosting’. I was reclaiming something I loved but hadn’t made time to do in years.

I committed to painting regularly – squeezing in an hour each day. This reminded me that I was more than my job title or industry. I was on a quest to remember my other talents, and see what I could do with them.

From a ‘hobby’ start, I then got my first commission. This led to setting up an online shop, and (gradually) selling to customers across the UK.

My art business is slowly growing. It might become my main job. But that's not the only point. I now feel much more like myself.

Plus, I’ve gained the skills to shift into many possible industries. Product development, customer service, business management, budgeting – I've been paid to learn these. It’s as valid to have gained these skills from my own business as through a regular job (plus I can tick the ‘uses own initiative’ / ‘manages own deadlines’ boxes). I’m a more interesting job candidate than I’ve ever been. All from trusting the instinct to pick up my brushes again.

Commit to doing it

how to start creative writing career

So far, so fun.

But there’s a harsh reality to creative careers. Nobody is going to give you permission (except you) that this can work.

You have to trust that you’ll make something worthwhile, and put the time in up front. With no guarantee of success.

You can’t have a novel published unless you write it. You can’t sell your artisan soap unless you craft some. You have to make the product before you can sell it.

This is also true if you’re shifting into a service (like photography, interior design, or website building). You have to make a portfolio, or find a way of showcasing your skills. Even if that’s giving yourself hypothetical projects to work on.

Sounds obvious. But are you finding time to actually do this, or just thinking about it?

Whatever our activity, we have to commit to doing it. Consistently. As a worthy use of our time. Rather than a special reward (when every other to-do list task is complete). We need this regular exposure to work out whether we really want to make this creative task part of our working life. Or prefer it as a hobby.

Make time and defend it

how to start creative writing career

If you’re looking to find more time, start noticing your habits. Look for the gaps where you can do your creative task, and defend that time.

Can you spot the points where you’re drawn to scrolling your phone, or checking social media? Is it possible to redirect these minutes towards your creativity (taking out a notebook instead)?

Can you try a simple change in routine? For example, setting a rule with your family that you have 20 uninterrupted minutes at a particular point in the day?

Remember, you have to treat yourself as a professional before anyone else can.

This exploring phase can feel overwhelming to start, and easy to get lost in. So how do we focus our efforts, around our job and other commitments?

Action points for the 'Exploring' stage:

  • Identify one learning activity for a creative skill you’re interested in. As well as YouTube, other options include Coursera (which has free options). Skillshare (which has a two-week free trial) and the Open University’s free Open Learn platform.
  • Find one person who is doing your creative work professionally. A quick bit of research can dig up online festivals, open studios and one-day workshops. Find one opportunity where you can practise the creative skill you’re interested in, in the company of a professional. Ask them questions!
  • Make regular time to practise your creative activity. Start with a simple challenge. For example: I will write for ten minutes each day at 7.00 a.m. for three weeks. Pick something that feels achievable around your job and commitments (you can build up later). Tell someone who can hold you to account.  
  • Swap excuses for questions (“I don’t have the time” becomes “How can I make a small amount of time?”). Our creativity can be crushed to death by perfectly reasonable excuses. But if you turn the excuse into a question, there’s probably an answer.

As you start to treat your creative outlet seriously, the doubts will grow.

You will become more aware of the gulf between where you are now, and where you want to be. The route will look steep, and there’s always a handy reason not to continue: “I’m not good enough”, “this is a waste of time” or “I don’t have enough talent/experience/money to turn this into a career”.

So, how do we replace these doubts with more useful thoughts? How do we work out whether to take things further?

Reflecting: how to tell the difference between a hobby and a new career

Stop worrying about talent.

There isn’t a single rule that can tell you whether you should go professional or not.

You might think that ‘talent’ is the dividing line. It isn’t.

When you go to a gallery, do you like all the paintings? Talent is subjective.

When you read about someone who sells cakes, makes jewellery, opened a bookshop: is their business running solely on talent?

Being 'good' at something might help you get started. But other skills are more vital for long-term success.

Perseverance. Marketing. Budgeting. Connecting. Goal-setting. As a career changer, you’re likely to have learnt these skills in your work history already. You're in a position of advantage.

This isn’t to brush your concerns under the carpet. Of course we’re going to ask ourselves if we’re good enough. It’s scary to start doing something new. To leave what we know. To set up our own creative business, or start at the bottom in a new industry.

But the empowered question to ask is:

Why do you want to shift into creative work?

how to start creative writing career

As with any career change, it’s important to understand your why. Think of this as the mission statement that keeps you focused.

For example, I want to do creative work because I love to take a pile of materials and create something new. Something that’s vibrant, expressive, and brings other people value. This energises me. It connects my inner life to that of others. It’s my way of making a useful contribution.

This keeps me on track: something either fits my ‘why’ or it doesn’t.

Writing an article (like this one) and painting a canvas may seem like very different forms of work. But they both fit the ‘why’ given above. I can find various forms of work for this ‘why’.

This also helps to switch off the “oversaturated” fear. I don’t have to swim in the busy pool. I just focus on the clients, organisations and customers who share my ‘why’. It’s a small and friendly place to start. 

But alongside our ‘why’, we also have to be honest with ourselves about our expectations:

Does your creative shift pass the holiday resort test?

how to start creative writing career

Imagine you’re at a holiday resort. You’ve had a lovely relaxing time, and you’re wishing you could just stay. It would be so easy to move out here permanently – where the pace is slower, the activities are fun, and you’re free of your usual cares.

But do you really want to be at that resort through the rest of the year?

When it’s empty, in awful weather, with no company, and no guarantee the next season will be better? When it’s entirely work, not leisure.

Maybe that’s the challenge you’re looking for… or perhaps you prefer to enjoy it as a tourist.

We can apply this to creative careers:

You’re not choosing it for when it’s fun. When you’re doing that activity you love, business is thriving and you’re feeling happy and fulfilled.

You’re choosing it for when it's hard. Because you’re willing to be there through the problems. Whatever those may be. Whether that’s struggling to find clients, overcoming the uncertainty of a contract falling through, learning a new skill from novice to expert, juggling several jobs, or having no guaranteed money next month. The struggle will be 99% of the time.

Ask yourself: do you want to live there?

Your creative shift is not a peaceful, easygoing alternative to your current job. All the hard and boring bits are still there (in a different form). This is the reality across the Careershifters community:

“It's financially very tough in the early years and beyond – everything really does take longer than you anticipate.”   –  Joanne Edwards

“Mostly it's just taken a very long time to get to where I am now, and there's a long way to go still.”  – George Winks

In my own shift, I’ve berated myself for 'not being successful fast enough'. I thought I could make a clean jump, from fundraiser to artist and writer. One shift. Sorted. 

Frankly, this was just naive.

Who makes a full-time income from creative work straight away? Nobody.

Whether you’re learning a new trade, or setting up your own business – it’s going to take time. It’s more accurate to view this route as a series of mini-shifts.

During that time, you’re going to feel scared, worthless and uncertain. You’re not getting immediate validation that you’re doing the right thing. So the high achiever in you will start screaming to pull the plug. It takes a lot of inner resources to keep going, along with a healthy dose of realism, and a financial plan.

Action points for the 'Reflecting' stage:

  • Set your why: Why do you want to do creative work? Write it down. Then ask ‘why’ again until you hit the root (try three rounds).  This is the statement you need to stick above your desk, or anywhere you can see it regularly. It will help you stay focused, and pick a suitable direction. Set a timer for two minutes and bullet point as many kinds of work as you can, that suit the ‘why’ you’ve written. Start with the obvious, and keep going. The aim of this is to start thinking more widely and imaginatively about your options (and dispel the "I’ll be a starving artist in the garret" fear). What excites you within that list? What ones would you like to do in the long term, and what feels most achievable to start with in the short term?  How does your ‘why’ solve someone else’s problem? Find one contact who your ‘why’ is useful for.  
  • Do a Risk Assessment Write out all the problems you can think of for your creative shift. What business skills will you have to learn? What money uncertainties would you have? What could go wrong?  List each of the dangers that come to mind, and who will be affected. Then rank the likelihood of this occurring, out of 10. What steps can you take to reduce each risk? For example: I will not earn enough in my first month as a freelance illustrator, which will mean I have to rely on my partner’s salary (8/10). Could become: I know I need to have four clients per month to cover my costs. I will arrange three months' worth of freelance work before I finish my job. Consider the solutions you have written. Those will be your job. Are you willing to have that job? Unless you’re screaming “No!” , the only way to know for sure is to try.

So how do we make taking action as smooth as possible?

Building: how to build a stable creative income

how to start creative writing career

There are many ways to build your creative career change, without burning bridges or risking your finances. You can create a work structure that suits your needs and goals.

Here are methods used by members of the Careershifters community, to help you find what’s best for you:

Test and build your buffer (before leaving your job)

Nathan Walker shifted into wedding photography, after years in the science sector. He set up the foundations for his shift whilst in his previous job:

how to start creative writing career

After leaving his job, Nathan’s plans for that first year were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. But he used his back-up plan to tide him over, until wedding bookings resumed:

“We saved a financial buffer to last one year based on a worst-case scenario that assumed I wouldn't get any bookings during my start-up year.”

Nathan’s route was to test, save and then make a clean break. This was influenced by his desire to work for himself:

“I wanted to become self-employed, so that I could pursue something that I was passionate about and have the freedom to create my own opportunities.”

But this isn’t the only path to a successful shift. You can keep your job for a longer period, whilst progressing your creative shift alongside it.

Work part-time as you build your creative business

After a career in investment banking, Lucy Houle wanted to find a work mix with better work–life balance and creative fulfilment.

She shifted into working as a school secretary. At the same time, she set up her own business making luxury oilskin tote bags and accessories. She used her free time to build her business, until juggling both roles became unmanageable:

how to start creative writing career

It’s important to remember that your creative ‘success’ isn’t measured by how quickly you can quit your other work. There’s a range of benefits (beyond financial) to keeping a job alongside. 

For example, Camille Deniau’s part-time job at Google benefited her creative work (Project Roots):

how to start creative writing career

But how do you manage the workload, without your creative work slipping to the bottom of the priority pile?

Set clear and achievable goals for your creative work

It's crucial to clearly define your goals when you're juggling different types of work. So you can set priorities for your remaining time, stay focused, and make empowered decisions. For Camille , this came through coaching:

“I can’t recommend coaching enough; it made the difference for me. Without this year of working on my purpose, my saboteur voices and building my project, I wouldn't have had the clarity and confidence I had when making the shift.”

With a bit of internet research, you can find support that suits your needs. At the start of my own shift, I was able to receive free coaching through The Young Women’s Trust. If your creative shift involves starting a business, there may be free support available.

Joanne Edwards found help for her shift into millinery through Enterprise Nation and The Prince’s Trust:

how to start creative writing career

“I wanted to find a mentor to help me navigate my ideas and keep me accountable, so I signed up to The Prince's Trust which, amongst other things, allows you to meet with a volunteer. That has been a huge support and for me, something which has perhaps made all the difference.”

But we can also use the contacts we already have to progress our creative shift:

Use your connections

Your perfect creative job may never come up as a traditional listing. But you can make it up. Whether that’s through going self-employed, setting up a business, or networking into your dream industry. Don’t underestimate the work that can come through word of mouth:

“My first clients were musicians, colleagues and authors from the publishing house I worked at before.” – Luminita Ciobanu (shifted from music publishing to website design and development)

A useful place to start is by making an inventory of the connection methods you have already:

“I drew on my network, updated my LinkedIn, met a lot of people for coffee, asked for advice, and told as many people as possible what I was looking to do and achieve.” – Catherine Allison (shifted from marketing to a creative career portfolio)

Whatever your creative career route is, you need to be proactive. The more you go out and look for opportunities, the more easily they can find you.

Choose a work structure that suits you

how to start creative writing career

It’s really important to be honest with yourself about what work structure suits you. Some people thrive being self-employed. But that way of working doesn’t suit everyone (and that’s OK!).

Are you someone who likes variety in their week? Then combining your own business with a part-time job might be the winning option for you.

Would you panic without a regular pay cheque? If so, you may do your best creative work in one day per week (and four days of income security). This isn’t a failing; it leaves you space to focus on your creativity by removing the fear.

The most important thing is to pick the route that feels right for you. What’s going to be your best way to get started? You can always change it later.

Action points for the 'Building' stage:

  • Decide what way of working will allow you to build your creative career. Look at the solutions that have come up in your Risk Assessment. What form of work does this suggest to you? What’s one action you can take on this right now?  
  • Consider the contacts you’ve gained from your work so far. Who are three people it would be useful to talk to?  
  • How can your creativity solve someone else’s problem? This applies whether you’re looking for a job, or marketing a service. It applies for products, even if they seem like they don’t meet an ‘obvious’ need. For example, a painting solves the problem of a bare wall, a birthday gift, preserving a memory, and more; a poem solves an anniversary gift, a speech, a journal cover. Talk to people you know, look at what sells, suss out what people need. Where can your creativity offer a solution?  
  • If you’re starting a business, make use of the support in your area. This could be as simple as joining a networking group with other local businesses. If you’re struggling with a problem or knowledge gap, tap into free resources online. As well as Enterprise Nation, Natwest has a Business Builder course, Holly & Co has an advice hub for small businesses, edX has business modules, and Etsy has an online handbook.  
  • Stick with your creative idea until you earn your first £100 / $100. Don’t give up too quickly – you need time to work out how it’s going, what you can improve or make easier, and what to change.  
  • Write an income booster list. Write out all the ways you could make £100 / $100, from your skills and experience so far. Whether that’s using skills from your past work, selling household items, offering tuition – whatever! This is your back-up list. It reminds you that, if money feels tight, you have ways to generate some quick relief.

But what if it doesn’t work out?

how to start creative writing career

Heading off on any new career route is exposing. But for a creative career, it’s easy to feel paralysed by extra pressure: What if I can’t make a living? What if it destroys my hobby? What if I’m not the right personality type to run a business? What if I fail?

But we can replace these fears with facts:

You’re allowed to change course

The purpose of our career shift is not to make money from our passions. That puts our career under crippling pressure – “If this fails I'll be miserable forever” . Who can thrive under that burden?

Instead, we're shifting to have a fulfilling and rewarding career that gives us the life we want.

We might find this in a creative career. But that’s not our only route. It could lead us to another direction entirely. For example, Rebecca Fennelly shifted from being a professional dancer to working in tech:

how to start creative writing career

It’s this “new lease of life” we’re aiming for. As long as we’re finding that, our career shift is a success.

Better to start than to stay stuck

how to start creative writing career

There were lots of reasons why I stayed in my old job.

Despite knowing I wanted to make a creative career shift. I read articles, and stayed put. Because I was afraid of failing.

Now I’m here, I wish I could pass a note back. There is no outright ‘failing’. 

I might continue to grow my creative business. Or it might lead me to another job. Either way, I’ll be in a more fulfilling and rewarding place than the one I left. Simply because I know myself better.

If the creative struggles outweigh the rewards, I’ll shift again. If it’s no longer serving my needs, I’ll leave. I can do this now. I’ve got my agency back. Whatever happens, I’m no longer stuck.

But for now, my days are surrounded by the things I make. This article, the pile of canvases by my desk, the orders I shipped out this morning. I could have been doing this all along. Even in little spare pockets of time around my old job.

All it took was a little step. Just the confidence to start.

So where are you going to start with your creative career shift? Let me know in the comments below.

Katie Rigg's picture

Katie Rigg is a writer for Careershifters, a freelance writer and artist. After working for several years in arts administration and fundraising, she left to build her own creative career. She's passionate about helping people find fulfilling work. 

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How to Start a Writing Career

Last Updated: March 6, 2023

This article was co-authored by Lydia Stevens . Lydia Stevens is the author of the Hellfire Series and the Ginger Davenport Escapades. She is a Developmental Editor and Writing Coach through her company "Creative Content Critiquing and Consulting." She also co-hosts a writing podcast on the craft of writing called "The REDink Writers." With over ten years of experience, she specializes in writing fantasy fiction, paranormal fiction, memoirs, and inspirational novels. Lydia holds a BA and MA in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University. This article has been viewed 41,946 times.

We read books, novels, magazines according to our interest. Reader always read the matters which are illustrated in the way directly make curious to readers. We want to read even whole content of novels and books as we read a single sentence headline. Many options of writing are emerged with the technology. Now day’s digital content is needed for any organization and they want to hire candidates who are expert in writing content writing as per industrial requirements.

Beginning the Career

Step 1 To begin with, you only need a good vocabulary.

Becoming a Successful Writer

Step 1 To be a successful writer you must understand what the industry needs and sharpen your proficiency accordingly.

Community Q&A

Community Answer

  • Sometimes you think you already found what's going to stay for a lifetime. But at some point, you realize you're wrong as you reach the end of the road. If writing is not really working out for you, don't feel bad. Instead, be thankful for all the things it taught you. Move on and welcome a new beginning. Thanks Helpful 3 Not Helpful 0
  • A writing career doesn't assure financial stability. A suggestion would be to make it part-time and take on high paying jobs. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 0

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‘I’m so excited to connect with readers’ … Melanie Cantor at home in Dorset with her dog Mabel.

A new start after 60: after a decade of rejections, I got my first novel published. Now I’ve got my dream, I won’t stop!

After a successful career as a talent agent – representing Michael Parkinson, Ulrika Jonsson and Adam Ant – Melanie Cantor became disillusioned with TV. So she took up writing – and refused to give up on her passion.

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A t 61, after a decade writing four unpublished manuscripts and receiving hundreds of rejections from agents and publishers, Melanie Cantor got an email in 2019 from the literary agent Felicity Blunt. “It started off positively and I was just waiting for the ‘but’ to arrive, but it never did,” Cantor says. “She said she wanted to represent me.”

In 2020, Dorset-based Cantor’s debut novel Life and Other Happy Endings , about a woman with three months to live who spends her remaining time writing letters to those who have wronged her, came out. Its publication was the culmination of a lifelong fascination with writing.

“My father was an artist and even though I couldn’t draw for toffee, words were my creativity,” she says. “I used to write stories and poetry. When I was given a guitar at 15, I even wrote songs. I never thought being a writer was possible, though, since the only option if you were good at English in the 60s was to become a teacher.”

Rather than work in education, Cantor became a secretary for the theatre publicist Peter Thompson and developed her own roster of clients. In the 90s, she made the switch to talent management, founding her own agency that represented everyone from Michael Parkinson to Ulrika Jonsson and Adam Ant. Yet by 2008, she was becoming disillusioned and decided to take a new direction.

“The industry had moved towards reality TV and I just wasn’t as passionate about work any more,” she says. “I had just turned 50 and having spent so long working on other people’s interests, it was time to do something for me. I decided to get back to writing.”

Aside from a manuscript in 2001, after being inspired by the bestselling comedy novel The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing, Cantor hadn’t written anything long-form since she was a teenager. She decided to enrol on a writing course to hone her skills. “I spent five days in Oxford and it was eye-opening,” she says. “We had to read out the pages we wrote every day. It was so embarrassing when it got to me because mine wasn’t poetic like the others. But I did make everyone laugh.”

After meeting an agent through the course, Cantor was encouraged to write a manuscript that focused on the celebrity world she had worked in. “It almost got picked up by HarperCollins but failed in the sales and marketing tests and that was devastating,” she says. “I went out and got drunk and met someone who told me: ‘Rejection is what makes you a writer.’ I’d learn that over the next decade!”

Drawn to creating characters and plotlines, Cantor wrote every day, regardless of the rejections, with her dog Mabel by her side. “Writing brought me such pleasure,” she says. “Even if it was just for myself, I loved living with these characters and when I wrote it was so meditative, I would lose track of time. It’s only when I finished a draft and pressed send – to an agent – that it got scary.”

Cantor produced three more manuscripts before she began working with a freelance editor, who helped shape Life and Other Happy Endings. It was published, however, as the Covid pandemic hit and she was unable to attend any events to meet readers. Happily, her follow-up comic novel, The F**k It List, which recounts a new start for a 40-year-old single woman who decides to become a mother, is about to be published.

“I’m so excited to connect with the readers and keep telling these stories of powerful, independent women,” she says. “Not everyone will like your work but I’m so thrilled to be able to entertain the people who engage with it. It makes all that rejection worth it.”

Now 66, Cantor is working on her third novel and a screenplay adaptation of The F**k It List that she is hoping will get picked up. “Now that I’ve started, I won’t stop,” she says. “I want to show people that failure is simply part of the journey of life. If you keep going, time, luck and talent will combine in your favour.”

The F**K It List by Melanie Cantor is published by Penguin on 9 May (£8.99).

Tell us: has your life taken a new direction after the age of 60? Fill in the online form at theguardian.com/new-start-after-60

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    2. Editor. 👩🏻‍💼 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.

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