Writers develop original written content for various kinds of media, including blogs, books, music, movies, television, theatre and advertisements. They conduct research and interviews to gather factual information and enhance work with authentic details.
Writers may compose non-fiction or fiction pieces, or write advertising copy for magazines, internet sites and other media outlets. They present drafts to clients or editors for feedback and rewrite to meet their standards.
Duties and responsibilities
- Choose subject matter to express personal feelings and ideas, or to meet needs of client
- Conduct research and interviews to gather factual information and authentic details to enhance text
- Arrange research, notes and ideas into outline or other useful arrangement to guide work
- Write fiction or non-fiction prose, including articles, novels, short stories, biographies and essays
- Write advertising copy to be used by a broadcast, print or online publication
- Compose articles, bulletins, sales emails and other marketing and promotional material
- Invent product names, slogans, movie and book titles, and character and place names
- Vary language, style and tone of message to suit the genre and desired audience
- Develop elements such as plot, dialogue, characterisations, historical settings and action
- Review and revise works to meet personal standards as well as needs of the client or publication
- Prepare projects in appropriate format for submission to publishers, editors or clients
- Collaborate with editors, clients, composers and producers to discuss needed changes and revisions
- Follow correct procedures to register copyrights for completed works
- Collaborate with other writers, biography subjects and topic experts on specific projects
- Write narrative, dramatic, lyric or other types of poetry for publication
- Create narrative text to suit musical compositions of composers, singers and theatre productions
- Promote works through personal website, social media, newsletters and other means
- Attend book launches and other publicity events, including public readings and book signings
Skills and knowledge
AVERAGE WORKING HOURS
Nights and weekends possible
Many writers work full time, during normal business hours. In-house jobs at publications, ad agencies and other businesses are abundant in major media and entertainment markets. This includes Washington, DC and cities in California, New York and Texas. Some writers prefer to travel to do hands-on research or to meet with clients or interview subjects in person.
Most creative authors and freelance writers telecommute, allowing them to work for publishers and media outlets anywhere in the country. They often set their own hours but may be required to work nights and weekends to meet deadlines. The prevalence of WiFi and other mobile connections allows writers to compose and submit pieces from anywhere they are inspired to work.
Writers typically spend long hours sitting at a computer. Meeting publisher, producer or editor guidelines and deadlines can be stressful. Self-employed writers and authors face the added pressure of juggling multiple projects and continually seeking new work.
Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.
Bachelor’s degree in English or related degree
Most full-time writers have a bachelor's degree in English, communications or journalism. They typically receive on-the-job training from more experienced writers and editors. Writers may gain their initial work experience through internships, high school and college publications or non-profit organisations.
Many new writers also create their own blogs or contribute articles to non-paying websites. This can lead to paid assignments, and offers a path to being published for writers without a bachelor's degree.
Some writers may need formal education, training or experience related to the topic they will be writing about. Many associations offer certifications, such as the American Grant Writers' Association (AGWA) and American Writers & Artists Inc (AWAI). Being certified can help you stand out from other job candidates and assist in advancement opportunities.
Many academic institutions have immersive writing programmes to enhance skills and create publishable works in a collaborative environment.
Writers and authors typically begin by blogging or writing for small business publications, local newspapers, non-paying websites, advertising agencies and non-profits. Gaining recognition as a published writer, and for quality work and dependability, can lead to jobs at more prestigious publications. Building a following through social media and earning positive reviews helps with advancement and more lucrative assignments or publishing deals.
Many writers prefer to remain as freelancers and self-publishers to retain more control over their content. Persistence, talent and hard work can lead to a lucrative client base or readership. Many writers pursue higher-paying, steady gigs to provide income while developing creative works that take longer to complete and publish.
You may choose to transition to a role in editing, to collaborate with writers and help them publish their best works. Some writers pursue further training and education to become teachers in English or creative writing.