Creative Writing Jobs
Don’t quit your day job. How many times have writers been told this by friends and family when discussing their ambitions to “make it” as a creative writer? The truth of the matter is that there are a wide variety of creative writing jobs out there—you just have to know where to look.
In this article, we’ll take a look at a number of creative writing jobs that may just become your next day job!
Creative Writing Jobs: Published Author
In most people’s minds, the most ubiquitous of the creative writing jobs out there is to become a published author through a well-established publishing house. If you’re a fiction writer, you may not get picked up by one of the larger publishing houses right out of the gate. But if you’re prolific, you can earn a decent living. The barriers can be a little steep, especially considering all the work it takes to create a well-written novel or a non-fiction work that is sellable.
For more on traditional publishing, check out our in-depth article on How to Publish a Book. This topic is also discussed by our resident writer P.J. Aitken, in his traditionally published book The Online Writer’s Companion.
Creative Writing Jobs: Self-Publishing
Of course, if you are more independent minded, self-publishing is one of the creative writing jobs that you, well, create yourself! Nowadays, you can easily create your own works—whether they are fiction or non-fiction—and bootstrap your way into generating legitimate sales through retailers like Amazon and Ingram Spark.
Self-publishing goes beyond just books and ebooks. Some authors with a popular following use a subscription service for their serialized content. This helps them monetize their writing without the pressure of creating a finished work. Other writers simply ask for crowdfunded solutions from their audience via a “Donate” button or using a platform like Patreon. By adding exclusive content, you can dictate the course of your career at your whim.
As a side benefit to self-publishing, your finished works can help persuade traditional publishers to pick up your work; persuade literary agents to work with you; or display your skills to employers should you be looking for steady employment.
Creative Writing Jobs: Content-Generator
It may be a buzzword you’ve heard lately, but one of the many creative writing jobs available is working as a “content-generator”. Essentially, it is a fancy name for a commercial writer. But you do get a chance to expand your creativity.
Often, you’ll be contracted to write something called a “white paper”. This is “an authoritative report or guide that informs readers concisely about a complex issue and presents the issuing body’s philosophy on the matter.” In other words, it’s a “how-to” or “what’s this”. Consider each white paper that you write a creative writing lesson in and of itself. Here are a few examples of a content-generator in action:
Persuade the reader to discover the merits of Icelandic spring water vs. tap water
Explain in laymen’s terms how a percolating coffee machine works
What’s a good metaphor for using brown sugar vs. refined sugar in the beer-brewing process?
It may not be the most inspiring work that you’ve undertaken, but you can apply these same concepts down the road when you choose to focus on your “real work”. Think of this as an internship for your other literary ambitions.
Creative Writing Jobs: Copyediting
One way to become a better writer is to be sift out all of the mistakes in other’s work—and get paid for it! Copyediting isn’t just dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s. There are elements of every copyediting gig where you are exercising the same muscles as you would for any number of creating writing jobs. For instance, you will have the opportunity to research the best ways to fact-check articles, or check for endemic grammatical errors that distract the reader from the story. You gain a keen insight into how a writer actually developed their work and where their weaknesses lies.
And considering that more and more content is being produced with each passing day, there’s always a shortage of skilled copyeditors.
Any writer will tell you that there’s more to the career than just putting words down on the page. In fact, writers can benefit from something I’ve coined called “adjacent” skills. There’s plenty of ways to make money online while still falling underneath the umbrella of creative writing jobs.
As an example, there are a number of jobs for lonely suitors who want to hire writers to “catfish” on their behalf. On websites like Plenty of Fish and OkCupid, writers can compose creative messages to stir the hearts and minds of potential mates. While you may cringe from the ethics of it, or feel that you’re wasting your English degree, it’s work, and it pays.
Creative Writing Competitor
The job title may sound a little clunky and pompous, but if you’re looking for a legitimate supplement to your income, why not consider regularly participating in writing contests? Of all the creative writing jobs listed, this may provide a sizeable income for poets who may have few other opportunities to make a living.
There’s nothing like strolling down a city street, only to be met with a musician plying their trade in song. Luckily for writers, these spontaneous opportunities are available, too. If you have a talent for poetry and wish to experiment with an unorthodox career path, why not selling your writing and/or compose poems for people strolling by?
While it may seem uncouth and embarrassing at first, you can distribute your work to a wider audience and get paid for it. Even famous authors like Richard Brautigan began their career this way. And now that vintage is in vogue, all you need is a typewriter and a sign advertising your services. Poems for $1? Sure, why not!
Depending on which city you live in, you may need to apply for a street-performers/buskers license from the city hall before setting up shop. For a small fee, you can create a job of your own.
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When your relatives tell you to not quit your day job, you can tell them how many jobs there actually are for writers today. This list, of course, is only the tip of the iceberg for creative writing jobs. To be honest, anywhere that you’ve seen writing, ask yourself the following question: “How did they get that job?” Chances are you can find that job (or ones similar) by doing a little deductive research.