Now that I’m floating high enough to see airplanes in my ego balloon, I think I can offer some advice. When it comes to the job market these days, it takes a lot hard work, some skill and a pinch of luck (or a lot of luck, depending on your perspective) in order to find something you can both support yourself with and be happy doing.
With that in mind, I’ve managed to compile a helpful list of:
(and jobs for people wondering what the hell they’re going to do with an English degree)
Author – I’m starting here since this seems to be the dream job of almost everyone who wants to write. Authors spend their lives crafting stories with the goal of being published in book form and hopefully making enough money to live on. Some authors become best sellers, but don’t count on this. As an author, you’re probably going to also have to get a day job to support yourself. Don’t believe me? Here’s an HP article on 11 authors you know who also had day jobs.
Publishing – You can get a job at a publishing house doing many different things. There are several editorial positions you can get, you can work in book promotions, electronic publishing or even as a researcher. These jobs are available at large and independent publishing houses.
Critic – Do you have a good critical eye? Are you able to pick apart a work and convey your ideas in an interesting manner? Do you have a unique voice? Well then, this job may be for you! Critics review published works like books, movies and plays for Internet based news companies or traditionally published papers or magazines.
Ghostwriter – If you don’t mind writing another person’s ideas and handing over authorship credit to that person, then this might be a suitable position for you. Ghostwriters are used most commonly by authors to mass produce material in order to turn a profit. James Patterson uses ghostwriters frequently in his novels.
Marketing – Since writers possess great communication skills, they are often utilized in marketing and advertising fields. Some are in charge of marketing campaigns for various products and may have to work in a collaborative setting. You may get a jobs as a copywriter in this field, preparing product descriptions for print in magazines, brochures and online publications.
Columnist/Journalist – Anyone who likes to write articles and is interested in journalism would like this job. You can write articles for various news publications. Generally, people in this field will set up and engage in interviews with people for their articles. There is also a lot of research involved depending on what you’re writing about.
Grant Writer – With this job, you are in charge of researching and responding to grant opportunities for an organization. There is a strict set of guidelines to follow when constructing a grant.
English Teacher – If you have the schooling (most teachers need a Masters Degree these days) and like interacting with kids or young adults, then this might be for you. With this job, you’re interacting with students on a daily basis to provide them a strong foundation in writing and literature. This job usually carries over beyond the normal 9-5 schedule as you have to grade assignments and craft lesson plans.
Screen Writer – You can work on your own independent films or write for the entertainment industry, usually movies or TV shows. This is a difficult industry to break into and involves working from the ground up. The process may be expedited with the right connections.
Comics Writer – If you enjoy writing and collaborating with an artist (or team of artists) then you may enjoy this job. You can write comics for the major companies, like Marvel, DC or Dark Horse, but this is generally difficult to do. You can also write your own project, publishing in an online format and peddling your work at conventions. Some comics published in this manner have become very popular (Penny Arcade for instance) and generally make their money off of advertising and merchandise.
Editor – There are tons of different types of editing. The major ones are copy editing and developmental editing. A copy editor generally works on a grammar and structure level, preparing texts for publication. A developmental editor makes substantive changes to a work, often reorganizing, rewriting or removing entire sections of a work.
Literary Agent – You slog through piles of manuscripts, hoping to find one worth your time. Once you do, it’s your job to represent the author and try to sell their manuscript to publishing houses. You’re often involved in editing the manuscript and are the author’s window into the publishing world.
Agent’s Assistant – There are some agents who are fortunate enough to have people that read manuscripts for them and present them with ones that might be worth using. With this job, your goal is to find the next diamond in the rough.
Public Relations Writer – Your job is to write materials in order to promote the goals and image of a company or an individual.
Writing Tutor – There are some companies who hire tutors to help their employees learn how to write and communicate better. There are tutoring agencies and even websites (wyzant.com) where you can set yourself up and advertise your services to people in your area.
Translator – If you happen to be fluent in a foreign language, you can get a job translating documents into that language or into English. Translators are often used by publishing houses for international editions of books.
Speech Writer – Are you a fan of politics? If you are, you can get a job writing speeches for various political figures at the local, state and federal levels.
Freelance Writer – You can do a lot of the jobs listed above on your own time. You set your own schedule and your own workload, but the issue is that you won’t always have constant work, which means a sometimes spotty paycheck. You hunt down publications or individuals looking for writers and are often paid for an article or a project. You can both write and edit as a freelance employee.
There are other jobs out there than the ones listed here. Once you find one that interests you, look up what it takes to get into that field and start working towards it. :)
Writing this was hard. I was very lucky to be edited by Chad Harbach, who spent many months (6? I forget. Possibly more) working on it with me. My writing group — Bennett, Anya and Lukas — also read several drafts and helped a lot. I would like to dedicate its appearance on the internet to the memory of Raffles, who cost me a lot of money but was worth every penny. I still miss you, buddy.
Out of curiosity, how many of you writers out there have had a book published? That is, how many of you have have had a publisher pay you for your writing and distribute your writing to an audience as opposed to self-publishing or using some alternative route?
Are you a writer? Do you have a writing blog? Have you published a book? Would you like for us to promote your work for free in our sidebar?
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Think you might be a writer but aren’t 150% sure? Here are ten signs that you may very well have a budding writer inside you.
- You constantly edit. Whether it’s while you’re driving down the street and pass a misspelled sign, or grammatical errors in Facebook posts, you fix errors constantly in your mind—and sometimes not so silently.
- You’re highly observant. And not only do you notice things all the time, but you file them away in your I could write about this later folder.
- You often ask, “How could I describe this?” You don’t ignore your life experiences—everything from walking outside during a torrential downpour, to burning yourself while cooking, to taking the first bite of a piping-hot homemade chocolate chip cookie can be used in your writing, and you often pause to think about how you would describe it in words.
- You have a hyperactive imagination. There’s never a dull moment in that head of yours—your imagination is always working on overtime to keep you entertained and give you fresh ideas.
- You feel inspired to write after reading a good book. Enough said.
- You often daydream about your WIPs. Your characters never completely leave you— they walk alongside you throughout the day and give you new ideas when you least expect it.
- You feel guilty if you haven’t written anything in a while. What a “while” is depends, but after a writing hiatus, a part of you begins to demand that you get back to the keyboard and reprimands you if you don’t.
- Grammar jokes are funny. Well, they are.
- You can’t get enough books. After all, every new book is a couple hours worth of inspiration.
- You keep doing this writing thing. It doesn’t matter if you’re not published, if no one else cares if you continue to write, if you don’t make a penny off of the words that you put on the page—none of that matters, because you’ll continue to write anyway.
Anonymous asked: Hi! I love this blog, and my writing has improved drastically just from all the advice and prompts I’ve gathered off here. I’m in high school, so naturally I’m always being asked things about where I plan to go to college. I know that I want to be a writer, and I’m willing to work less-than-desirable jobs to ensure that happens. But whenever I tell people I want to be a writer, they laugh, as if I’m not completely 100% serious about it. How do I make people understand that I’m serious? Thank you!
Laugh right back. Those people are idiots.
Some articles on being a writer:
Thank you for your support!
What is co-writing?
Co-writing means you and one or more people are writing a story conjointly. Each of you share a load in producing the final product. Some well-known co-authors are Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman with “Good Omens”, P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast of the “House of Night” series, and Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler with “The Future of Us”.
I’ve seen co-writing done in a variety of ways, or even any combination of the following:
- RPG style – writers divide up the characters in a turn-based style of writing. Occasionally, only one of the writers knows what the plot will be, like a game master, while the others follow along.
- Piecemeal – writers do various passages or scenes from an outline that they later string together.
- Narrator-based – each writer has their own main character, and often scenes will be written interchangeably from a main character’s limited POV. Secondary characters may or may not be assigned.
- Open mic – writers take turns writing up to certain points and then change hands.
The result of co-writing can be superior compared to writing alone. Creative minds come together and build and strengthen characters and plot and premise. Different writers have different strengths, so combining all these strengths could produce a synergistic explosion of literary greatness.
But I say “can” and “could” because the project of co-writing comes with a folded up insert of complications and warnings. Co-writing requires a lot more from writing singly and it’s certainly not for everyone for various reasons.
- Creative minds clash. Putting a handful of writers together and telling them to come up with a single piece doesn’t always work out that way. Some people will want different things. Some people will want to write differently. A collective conscious is hard to obtain.
- Cooperation. I had a group project in my fashion business class, and everyone had their own idea of what they wanted. No one was willing to compromise – at least, that’s what happened behind each other’s backs. Gossip and an unwillingness to talk things out or participate effectively created a very under-the-table type of animosity.
- Time and effort must be applied equally from each writer. No one likes to feel that they’re working harder for something than their fellow group mates. At the same time, no one likes to feel like one group member is taking over a project that should be shared.
- Solving problems. Especially if writers are unfamiliar with each other or live far away, identifying problems with plot or structure or character might make a writer nervous because they don’t want to insult their partners, especially if said partners are unaccustomed to constructive criticism.
- Revising. This has great potential to spark a variety of disagreements. One writer might think a scene needs to be altered because it’s not working out, while the other writer might think the scene is fine the way it is. There might be conflicts with characters or the way something was worded or a particular development.
If you’ve considered co-writing with someone or multiple someones, the aforementioned dangers may lie ahead. If you’ve tried co-writing and found it didn’t work out, your problem(s) might have been any of the above. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer or that you can’t ever have a partner or partners. It might just be that you need to find the right co-writers for you.
My primary co-writer is my writing soul mate (and also my actual soul mate). We have similar styles and we understand the way each other think so well that we can often predict the plot twists of our individually written stories. We also put out a lot. I mean a lot. We’re proficient and constantly so, and when one of us has a change of heart, the other can follow. We still have our disagreements and get huffy with each other, but we compromise or resolve issues quickly.
Finding a writing soul mate isn’t as simple as an ad on a Craig’s List. It takes two brains with the perfect creative chemistry and willingness to be wrong over right.
You’ve got to date the writer, movie night the writer, make promises with the writer, meet those promises with the writer, bed the writer—er, well, maybe you don’t have to take it that far. But pretty close. Both you and your writing soul mate have to be at a level where you understand and respect each other’s sexual expression, because this can resonate in whatever you write.
My secondary co-writer is a longtime friend and also one of my betas/critique partners. This means we’re completely comfortable with being objective and pointing out issues and overcoming creative pride. We’ve had a long time to mature together and establish a hearty foundation of trust and respect. (Although I haven’t had a chance to revise anything we’ve written together – then she’ll disown me for sure.)
If you’re interested in co-writing, you’ll have a much better experience if you follow these guidelines:
- Be open and allow your partner(s) to be open. Unload all your ideas and allow your partner(s) to do the same.
- Compromise. This isn’t a time where there can be “agree to disagree” situations. Either you agree to do something or you don’t. Just be ready to concede if your partner is much more adamant about their idea than you are about yours, or find ways to mesh ideas together.
- Don’t let yourself get upset or angry. If your idea doesn’t work out, don’t sulk about it, otherwise you’ll have less fun and your partner(s) will consequently have less fun.
- Research. Oftentimes a problem can stem from writers ending up with two different visuals of what the world looks like – especially in the case of fantasy. Establish your world and its rules as thoroughly as possible before writing. Create visuals. If neither/none of you are artists, then look up visuals and create a collage.
- Commit. This is a marriage, which means you owe it to your partner(s) to give it your 100 percent. If you can’t, then don’t get down on your knee and propose, or don’t say “I do.”
- Talk things out. If there are problems, don’t just sit on your hands. Be open, or else problems will ferment and grow until one little thing sets you off.
- Choose a writer or writers like you would critique partners. What I mean is you should choose writers who write similarly and write/read similar stuff. If you like writing women’s fiction “Sex in the City” style, don’t choose someone who writes hard military espionage.
- Also, you want your personal writing styles to be fairly similar, more so depending on what sort of method you’re going to be writing. I’ve had a friend who could tell the difference between when P.C. Cast had written a scene and when Kristin Cast had written a scene. You don’t want that.
If you and your partner(s) can adhere to these guidelines, then you’re likely to have a more successful time. Remember, it’s gotta be fun. When it stops being fun, reevaluate what’s gone wrong and remember to be open about it.
There comes a time in every writer’s life when they realize that the funniest, saddest, and craziest stories they can tell are their own. Here is a shortlist of great memoirs to add to your reading list:
-Wolf Hartman and C
What are your favorite memoirs?