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How to Become a Writer

By Andrea Delgado

Published:

Embarking on the journey of how to become a writer entails a profound immersion into the art of weaving words into narratives that resonate with readers on both intellectual and emotional levels. In this exploration, we delve deep into the multifaceted path of becoming a writer, examining the trials and tribulations, as well as the practical tools and techniques essential for honing one’s craft and navigating the ever-evolving literary landscape.

Career Summary

Writer Salary

Writer Salary

Writers’ salaries are subject to a myriad of influences that shape their income trajectory. To provide a glimpse into this dynamic landscape, we present a fundamental delineation of the writer salary across different stages of their careers utilizing data from glassdoor.com:

  • Entry Salary (US$50k)
  • Median Salary (US$60k)
  • Executive Salary (US$98k)

Notably, the average income earned by a writer in the United States finds itself in close proximity to the national average income for all occupations.

What does a Writer do?

The writer job description involves creating written material about a wide range of subjects and in various forms. They dig into research, put together, and polish articles, essays, or reports, all while making sure they follow specific rules and meet deadlines. Writers use their knowledge to share information in a way that gets the message across clearly and captures the reader’s interest with their words.

Writer vs Author

What is the difference between a writer and an author? Becoming a writer involves crafting words into engaging content, often for various purposes such as marketing, journalism, or storytelling. Writers can earn income through freelancing or employment, contributing to a diverse range of projects.

On the other hand, an author typically focuses on creating longer-form, published works such as books or novels. While both writers and authors require strong writing skills, authors often aspire to achieve recognition through their book publications, which can contribute to their reputation and possibly higher earning potential.

Writer Career Progression

  • Entry-Level Writers: individuals develop core writing skills by crafting content for various platforms.
  • Mid-Level Position: Writers specialize in specific niches and genres, building a diverse portfolio.
  • Senior Writers: They lead projects, oversee content strategies, and mentor junior staff.
  • Recognized Author: Extensive published works and literary contributions establish a distinguished reputation within the writing community.
Writer Career Progression

Pros:

  • Working as a writer offers the opportunity to express creativity through words while continuously enhancing communication skills.
  • Writers also enjoy the flexibility of freelance work and the potential to explore diverse topics, expanding their knowledge base.
  • Additionally, the satisfaction of seeing one’s words resonate with readers and having a tangible impact can be among the most rewarding aspects of a writing career.

Cons:

  • Working as a writer can entail coping with sporadic income due to fluctuating project demands and uncertain payment schedules.
  • The solitary nature of the job may lead to feelings of isolation and a sedentary lifestyle.
  • Moreover, dealing with writer’s block and the pressure to consistently produce high-quality content can be challenging, potentially impacting mental well-being.

Valuable Skills to Have as a Writer

  • Proficient research abilities.
  • Strong editing and proofreading skills.
  • Capacity to adapt writing styles to different genres and audiences.
  • Time management.
  • Creativity.

Popular Writer Specialties

  • Journalism
  • Creative Fiction
  • Technical Writing
  • Content Marketing
  • Copywriting
  • Academic Writing

How to become a Writer

Writer 5 Steps to Career

Education

Do I need a degree to become a Writer?

No, a degree is not a strict requirement to become a writer. While formal education in writing or related fields can be beneficial, many successful writers have honed their skills through self-study, practice, and real-world experience. Writing is a skill that can be developed over time, and what matters most is your dedication, creativity, and ability to produce compelling content. However, certain writing careers, such as academic or technical writing, might require specialized knowledge that a degree can provide. Ultimately, your portfolio and writing abilities are often more important than having a specific degree.

How long does it take and how much does it cost to get a degree in writing?

The time and cost to obtain a degree in writing can vary significantly based on factors such as the level of the degree (associate, bachelor’s, master’s), the institution you choose, and whether you attend full-time or part-time. Here’s a general overview:

  • Associate Degree (2 years): An associate degree in writing typically takes around two years of full-time study. The cost can vary widely depending on the college or university, but community colleges often offer more affordable options.
  • Bachelor’s Degree (4 years): A bachelor’s degree in writing usually takes four years of full-time study. The cost can range from $10,000 to $32,000 depending if you’re an in-state or out-of-state student.
  • Master’s Degree (1-2 years): A master’s degree in writing typically takes 1 to 2 years to complete. Costs vary greatly, with public universities generally being more affordable than private ones.

Keep in mind that there are online and part-time options available, which can impact both the duration and cost of your degree. Additionally, financial aid, scholarships, and grants may help offset the costs. It’s important to research and compare different institutions and programs to get a better understanding of the specific timeframes and costs associated with obtaining a degree in writing.

Can I complete an online degree program in writing?

Yes, you can complete an online degree program in writing. Many colleges and universities offer fully accredited online writing programs at various levels, including associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees. Online writing programs provide flexibility, allowing you to study and complete coursework from the comfort of your own home or any location with internet access.

When considering an online writing program, be sure to research the institution’s reputation, accreditation status, faculty expertise, and curriculum. Look for programs that align with your goals and interests as a writer. Keep in mind that online learning requires self-discipline and time management skills to succeed, as you’ll need to balance your studies with other commitments. Overall, an online writing degree can provide you with valuable skills, knowledge, and credentials to pursue a career in writing or related fields.

Common Steps to Become a Writer

Develop Writing Skills

Dedicate time to practice writing on a consistent basis, which helps refine your skills and uncover your distinct writing voice. Regular practice not only hones your craft but also allows you to explore various writing techniques and discover the individual flair that sets your writing apart. By consistently engaging in writing exercises, you gradually sharpen your proficiency, enabling you to effectively communicate ideas while expressing your unique perspective.

Valuable Skills to Have as a Writer

Valuable skills for a writer include proficient research abilities to gather accurate information, strong editing and proofreading skills for polished content, and the capacity to adapt writing styles to different genres and audiences. Additionally, time management is crucial to meet deadlines, while creativity and a keen eye for detail enhance the overall quality of written work. Effective communication skills also help writers collaborate with clients and editors, ensuring a successful writing career.

What are some web resources to learn skills to become a writer?

There are numerous web resources available to help you learn the skills needed to become a writer. Here are some reputable platforms and websites where you can find valuable writing resources:

  • Writer’s Digest University: Provides online workshops and tutorials for various aspects of writing, from craft to publishing.
  • Grammarly Blog: Offers writing tips, grammar advice, and insights to improve your writing skills.
  • The Write Practice: Provides writing prompts, exercises, and articles to help you refine your writing.
  • Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL): Offers comprehensive resources for academic writing, including style guides and citation guidelines.
  • Daily Writing Tips: Offers daily tips and articles to enhance your writing skills and vocabulary.
  • NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month): Hosts an annual writing challenge in November, encouraging participants to write a novel in a month. Their website also offers resources and community support.
  • Writers Write: Provides writing prompts, resources, and articles on various aspects of writing.
  • Literary Hub: Offers a wealth of articles, interviews, and insights into the writing and publishing world.

Read Widely

Delve into a wide array of genres and writing styles to broaden your understanding and draw inspiration from different literary landscapes. By immersing yourself in various types of literature, you not only enrich your knowledge base but also gain fresh perspectives that can fuel your creativity. This exploration of diverse genres cultivates a well-rounded appreciation for storytelling techniques, enhancing your ability to craft engaging narratives that resonate with a wide range of audiences.

Create a Portfolio

Gather a selection of your finest pieces, showcasing the breadth and depth of your writing prowess, which serves as a compelling testament to your skills for potential clients or publishers. Your portfolio becomes a visual representation of your journey, offering a glimpse into your writing journey, style, and versatility. By curating a collection of your most impressive work, you provide a tangible demonstration of your capabilities, making a persuasive case for why you are the ideal candidate for writing opportunities.

Submit and Network

Proactively share your work with appropriate platforms, whether it’s online publications or literary magazines, and participate in relevant writing events. Simultaneously, foster connections within the writing community by reaching out to fellow writers, attending workshops, and engaging in discussions. Through your submission endeavors, you amplify your visibility in the writing sphere, while networking provides the opportunity to exchange insights, collaborate, and forge valuable relationships that can fuel your writing journey.

Stay Persistent

Acknowledge that encountering rejections is an inherent aspect of the path; however, these setbacks should not deter your dedication to writing. Instead, use them as stepping stones for continuous growth. Continue honing your craft, nurturing a mindset of ongoing learning, and relentlessly seeking new avenues for growth. By remaining steadfast in the face of challenges, you not only develop your skills but also demonstrate the unwavering commitment that is often the hallmark of successful writers.

What are the Internship Opportunities for a Writer?

Securing a writer internship can provide valuable hands-on experience and networking opportunities. While availability may vary, here are places to explore and potentially find writer internships:

  • Research: Look into companies, publications, or organizations that align with your writing interests. Research their websites, social media, and job boards for internship openings.
  • University Career Services: If you’re a student, your university’s career services office may have resources and connections to help you find writing internships.
  • Job Search Websites: Utilize platforms like LinkedIn, Indeed, Glassdoor, and intern-specific websites to search for writer internships. Use relevant keywords such as “writing internship,” “content intern,” or “editorial intern.”
  • Industry-specific Websites: Check websites related to your writing niche. For example, if you’re interested in journalism, websites like JournalismJobs or MediaBistro might list relevant opportunities.
  • Networking: Attend writing workshops, conferences, and local writing events to connect with professionals who might know of internship openings.
  • Remote Opportunities: Consider remote internships if you’re unable to find local options. Many companies offer virtual internships that allow you to work from home.

Licensure and Certification

There isn’t a standard licensure or certification process specifically for becoming a writer, as writing is a creative skill that doesn’t typically require formal licensing. However, certain certifications and courses can enhance your writing credentials and skills. Here are a few options:

  • Copyediting or Proofreading Certification: If you’re interested in editing or proofreading, you can pursue certification from organizations like the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) or the American Society of Copy Editors (ACES).
  • Technical Writing Certification: For those interested in technical writing, the Society for Technical Communication (STC) offers certification programs that can enhance your technical writing skills.
  • Creative Writing Workshops and Courses: Many universities and online platforms offer creative writing workshops and courses. While these may not result in a formal certification, they can provide valuable learning experiences and help you refine your writing skills.
  • Content Marketing or Digital Writing Certification: Organizations like HubSpot offer certifications in content marketing, which can be useful if you’re interested in writing for digital platforms.
  • Academic Writing or Publishing Certification: Organizations like the Council of Science Editors (CSE) offer resources and training for those interested in academic writing or publishing.
  • Freelance Writing Associations: Joining associations like the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors (NAIWE) or the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA) can provide networking opportunities and resources.

Remember that the writing field values experience, a strong portfolio, and consistent practice. Certifications and courses can be beneficial in terms of learning and skill development, but they may not be mandatory for pursuing a writing career. Be sure to research any specific certifications or courses you’re considering to ensure they align with your goals and interests.

What’s the Career Outlook for Writers?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the field of writers and authors is expected to experience a 4 percent growth between 2021 and 2031, which is on par with the average rate of growth across all occupations. On average, around 15,200 job opportunities for writers and authors are anticipated annually during this decade.

Writer Popular Career Specialties

What are the Job Opportunities for Writers?

Job opportunities for writers are diverse and can be found across various industries. Here are some potential job roles and types of companies that hire writers:

Content Creation and Marketing:
  • Content Writer
  • Copywriter
  • Social Media Content Creator
  • Blog Writer
  • SEO Writer
  • Content Strategist
Journalism and Publishing:
  • Journalist
  • News Reporter
  • Magazine Writer
  • Columnist
  • Editor
Technical Writing and Documentation:
  • Technical Writer
  • Documentation Specialist
  • User Manual Writer
  • Technical Editor
Creative Writing and Entertainment:
  • Novelist
  • Screenwriter
  • Playwright
  • Scriptwriter
  • Songwriter
  • Poet
Academic and Educational Writing:
  • Academic Writer
  • Educational Content Writer
  • Curriculum Developer
  • Textbook Writer
Freelancing and Self-Employment:
  • Freelance Writer
  • Ghostwriter
  • Content Creator
  • Independent Blogger
Public Relations and Communications:
  • Press Release Writer
  • Communication Specialist
  • Corporate Blogger
Nonprofit and Advocacy Organizations:
  • Grant Writer
  • Advocacy Content Writer
  • Nonprofit Blogger
Technical Industries:
  • Software Documentation Writer
  • Medical Writer
  • Science Writer
Entertainment and Media Companies:
  • Entertainment Blogger
  • Media Content Writer
  • Film Reviewer
Travel and Lifestyle Companies:
  • Travel Writer
  • Lifestyle Blogger
  • Food Writer
E-commerce and Retail:
  • Product Description Writer
  • E-commerce Blogger
Advertising and Publicity:
  • Advertising Copywriter
  • Publicity Writer

What Type of Companies Hire Writers?

Companies that hire writers can range from traditional publishing houses and newspapers to digital marketing agencies, tech companies, e-commerce platforms, educational institutions, law firms, and more. Many organizations across industries recognize the importance of effective communication and content creation, leading to a wide array of job opportunities for writers.

What is the Work-Life Balance of a Writer?

The work-life balance of a writer can vary widely depending on factors such as the type of writing, the writer’s chosen niche, their employment status (freelancer, full-time employee, etc.), and individual work habits. Many writers enjoy the flexibility to set their own schedules. Deadlines and project demands can lead to irregular work hours, including evenings and weekends.

Writers often have the option to work remotely, which can contribute to a better work-life balance by reducing commuting time and allowing for a more comfortable work environment. Writing requires focused concentration, which may lead to periods of intense work followed by breaks to recharge. Writing is a solitary activity, which can lead to isolation.

Writers may find that their creative energy ebbs and flows. This can impact their work schedule and the need for breaks or periods of rest. The pressure to meet deadlines and produce high-quality content can lead to burnout. Writers need to be mindful of setting boundaries and taking breaks to avoid exhaustion.

Many writers are passionate about their work, which can blur the lines between work and leisure. While this can be fulfilling, it’s important to ensure that relaxation and personal time are also prioritized.

The work-life balance can differ between various writing roles. For example, a journalist working on breaking news might have a more demanding schedule compared to a novelist working on a long-term project.

Setting clear goals and priorities can help writers achieve a healthier work-life balance by allocating time for both work and personal activities. Overall, achieving a favorable work-life balance as a writer requires self-awareness, effective time management, and the ability to adapt to the demands of different projects. Writers need to find a routine and approach that suits their individual preferences and allows them to maintain their well-being while pursuing their creative and professional goals.

Should I become a Writer?

Deciding whether to become a writer is a personal choice that depends on your interests, skills, goals, and circumstances. Do you genuinely enjoy writing? Are you creative and able to think imaginatively? Writing requires dedication and perseverance. Strong written communication skills are crucial for writers.

Writing offers flexibility in terms of schedule and location.  Identify the writing niche that aligns with your interests and skills. Research the job outlook for writers in your chosen niche. Understand that income as a writer can be variable, especially in the beginning. Consider the work-life balance you desire.

Writing can be personally fulfilling, allowing you to share your thoughts and stories with the world. Ultimately, becoming a writer is a journey that requires dedication, continuous learning, and a passion for the written word. If you’re willing to invest the time and effort, and if writing brings you joy and a sense of purpose, then pursuing a writing career could be a fulfilling path for you. It’s also worth exploring writing as a hobby or side gig initially to gauge your level of interest and commitment before making it a full-time pursuit.

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Andrea Delgado

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