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How to Become a Writer: 8 Steps and Writing Jobs to Consider

Summer Nguyen | 10-15-2020

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If you have aspirations of becoming a writer, there are numerous avenues open to you, depending on your interests and talents. The writing profession offers diverse opportunities, from crafting literary works to contributing articles to newspapers or developing scripts for television and film.

Knowing the steps involved in pursuing a career in writing can help you determine if it aligns with your goals. In this guide, we clarify the responsibilities of a professional writer, detail the path to becoming one, and offer insights into various writing roles along with their career prospects.

What does a writer do?

A short description of a writer’s job is to create original content in the form of writing texts. Using the common language gearing toward their specific audience, writers conceptualize the ideas, topics, and concepts related to what they’re going to write. They do extensive research and collect useful information, proof, and other essential resources to provide readers with authentic and quality content.

You may have heard about famous writers such as William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell, or William Shakespeare. They composed classic books and plays.

Actually, writers produce different kinds of written content such as novels, newspapers, articles, blogs, books, poems, research papers, plays, screen manuscripts paper writing service, short stories, songs, advertisements, essay writer, and more. Due to the variety of genres, the writers’ works can be published and used across ranges of media.

Career roles for writers

To become a professional writer and make money, the easiest way is to pursue a degree in a specific writing concentration. Below are typical career concentrations of a writer with the median salary reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you are seriously considering living a writer’s life, this section should be noted carefully on your handbook.

Writer career concentrations: science writer, technical writer, grant writer, screenwriter, and copywriter.

Science writer

Science writers cover the field of science, but not science fiction you read. They write about the advances and discoveries, such as astrophysics, biotechnology, climate change, and genetics, that require a profound and concrete understanding of complex scientific information, theories, and practices.

Science writers usually research, write and edit scientific news, papers, for business and professional publications, or scientific and technical journals. Discovery is a digital channel and newspaper that publishes a wide variety of scientific and natural news.

Discovery
Discovery

If you are a bookaholic, you may know Carl Sagan - one of the best science writers of all time and also an influential astronomer. He published over 600 scientific papers and wrote over 20 different books. His famous book “Cosmos” is a must-read for anyone who wants to discover the magnificent and complex development of science and civilization in a logical and comprehensive way.

Like Carl Sagan, science writers’ role is to turn science information into something easier for readers to understand and update the latest scientific advances.

The median salary of a science writer is about $64,380.

Technical writer

As a technical writer, you can work in various fields, such as engineering and manufacturing. Technical writers communicate complex information. They translate and interpret complex technical texts into simple, and easy-to-understand documents for average readers and laypersons, such as user guides, how-to instructions, and materials. They help readers read and get the messages easily without being stuck in specific technical jargon.

Technical writers will work with other departments and teams to develop content plans suitable for specific audiences. Technical writers also need to understand what they are translating to convey the right message of the original text and help others understand correctly.

The most common examples of technical writing are software installation guides, user manuals, Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), company documents, annual reports, Service Level Agreements (SLA), Request for Proposal (RFP), legal disclaimers, etc.

Pro Git book was written by Scott Chacon & Ben Straub - a helpful guide to understanding and mastering Git
Pro Git book was written by Scott Chacon & Ben Straub - a helpful guide to understanding and mastering Git

The median salary of a technical writer is about $70,240.

Grant writer

Grant writers research and write proposals that help nonprofit and public organizations call for grant fundings from governments, charities, private foundations, or business groups. Grant writers need to research and identify the grants that match the organization’s objectives so that the proposals have the capacity to get accepted.

To be eligible for funding, a grant proposal must align with the grant’s specifications and comply with the standard structure of a proposal. A common grant proposal consists of a cover letter, project narrative, and supporting information that may include things like letters of endorsement from the members of the community.

More importantly, the grant writers need to explain why the cause is important, and the fund is noteworthy. The proposal must be persuasive, genuine, and professional.

Besides writing, editing, and sending the proposals, grant writers can also address funders’ questions about the proposals, seek and develop relationships with potential funders for other projects.

Here is a sample of a private RFP.

The median salary of a grant writer is about $58,920.

Screenwriter

Screenwriters write screenplays for TV shows, movies, and films. They are typically for self-employed freelance writers. These types of screenplays can be entirely original or based on existing content. Screenwriters need to have the ability to construct a narrative and connect a series of events to form a larger story with plots and characters. The creativity and experience are of the essence for any screenwriter.

In TV shows or films, screenwriters play a vital role in helping producers, directors, and actors develop the screenplay and successfully demonstrate the story.

Here’s an example of a paragraph in the screenplay “The Disaster Artist,” written by Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber, based on the novel by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissel.

See the full screenplay here.

The median salary of a screenwriter is about $58,400.

Copywriter

Copywriting is a buzzword now and copywriter is one of the hot careers in the employment field of various industries. Copywriters create a compelling and purposeful copy or piece of advertisement to promote and sell products or educate and engage customers. These pieces of content come with a variety of forms, such as blog posts, product descriptions, emails, newsletters, banner advertising, white papers, social media content, etc.

Copywriters typically work with marketing departments, designers, product managers, and other creative departments to brainstorm ideas and develop communication and marketing strategies. Copywriters must ensure that their copies embrace the brand’s tone and voice and communicate the consistent message across the channels.

Copywriters are also typical for freelance writers.

An example of a killer copywriting is RXBAR’s packaging. The usual ingredients of supplements are hard to read, so RXBAR makes it simple and readable for customers.

The median salary of a copywriter is about $57,640.

Now that you already know which types of a writer you can become, let’s get down to the two paths to realize your career goal as a professional writer.

How to become a writer

Here are eight sequential steps to adhere to if you aspire to pursue a career as a writer:

1. Seek for inspiration

Becoming a prosperous writer requires a diverse range of ideas, emotions, and life encounters to fuel creativity, particularly in the realm of creative writing. Seeking inspiration can involve spending time outdoors, pursuing enjoyable hobbies, immersing yourself in music, exploring new activities, taking leisurely walks while observing people, and even brainstorming and collaborating with fellow writers.

2. Choose your focus

Identifying a specific style and genre within the broad field of writing is crucial for honing your skills effectively. Here are some categories to consider:

  • Creative Writing: This involves employing storytelling techniques and imaginative language across various genres such as fiction, drama, and poetry. Creative writers focus on character development, settings, and themes, often experimenting with different styles to create unique pieces.

  • Business Writing: Business writers produce documents and communications for clients, colleagues, and stakeholders. They may work as copywriters or content creators, developing materials like email newsletters, white papers, reports, proposals, and presentations tailored to corporate needs.

  • Journalistic Writing: Journalists report on news and current events, prioritizing objectivity and factual accuracy. Their work spans various formats like news articles, feature stories, and investigative journalism, often involving interviews and data gathering from multiple sources.

  • Academic Writing: Academic writers, including professors and graduate students, produce research papers, essays, and dissertations. Their focus lies in creating evidence-based arguments, citing sources accurately, and presenting information in a clear and organized manner.

  • Nonfiction Writing: Nonfiction writers base their work on real experiences, people, or events, aiming to inform, educate, or persuade readers. Genres within nonfiction include memoirs, biographies, and historical narratives, all requiring accuracy and thorough research.

By pinpointing the style and genre that resonate most with you, you can concentrate your efforts on developing the necessary skills and expertise within that specific category.

3. Keep reading regularly

Keep reading

To excel as a writer, it’s crucial to embrace reading as an essential practice. Understanding your preferences in reading materials can offer valuable insights into your writing aspirations. Regular reading confers numerous benefits for writers:

  • Expanding Vocabulary: Through reading, writers encounter diverse lexicons and expressions, enriching their own linguistic repertoire. This facilitates clearer articulation of ideas and the crafting of more refined and compelling prose.

  • Aiding Research: Reading provides writers with essential background knowledge and contextual understanding when delving into specific topics. Strong reading skills enable efficient information retrieval, crucial for thorough research endeavors.

  • Enhancing Storytelling Mastery: By immersing themselves in various narratives, writers grasp the intricacies of storytelling, including plot dynamics, character arcs, and dialogue intricacies. Analyzing and dissecting fellow authors’ works empowers writers to refine their own narrative techniques.

  • Facilitating Self-Improvement: Reading cultivates critical thinking and analytical prowess, vital for proficient writing. Exposure to diverse perspectives and challenging literature fosters reflection, empathy, and self-awareness, nurturing writers’ holistic development.

By immersing oneself in a wide array of literature, writers absorb new concepts and literary techniques, subtly refining their craft. The cumulative effect of extensive reading enhances writing proficiency and fosters the cultivation of a distinctive authorial voice.

Exploring diverse genres and seeking recommendations from peers and literary sources can broaden one’s reading horizon, nurturing continuous growth as a writer.

4. Consider higher education

Depending on your career aspirations in writing, pursuing a college degree may be beneficial. Many writers hold bachelor’s degrees in fields such as English, creative writing, or journalism. Alternatively, a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) or Master of Fine Arts (MFA) can also be advantageous.

For those aiming to pursue careers as content writers or novelists, a major in English provides foundational knowledge essential for teaching as well as for crafting literary works.

Individuals interested in roles as reporters or public relations specialists can benefit from a journalism degree, which imparts skills in investigation, research, and reporting.

While formal education may not be mandatory for creative writing careers, it can be invaluable for professions in nonfiction, journalism, academia, or business writing, where technical expertise is often required.

5. Practice writing

As you embark on your journey to become a professional writer, prioritizing skill refinement is paramount. Maintaining a consistent blog or journal serves as a wellspring of inspiration and offers ample opportunities to hone your craft. Whether chronicling daily experiences, capturing fleeting moments of inspiration, or articulating personal aspirations, these exercises enable regular writing practice and skill development.

Practice writing

Additionally, embracing writing prompts, participating in workshops, and engaging in freewriting exercises fosters creative expression and strengthens your abilities. These structured activities provide avenues for experimentation, exploration, and refinement, ultimately enhancing your capacity to convey ideas effectively.

6. Enter the professional arena

As you embark on your writing career, numerous avenues await depending on your interests and expertise. Consider the following opportunities:

  • Pitching to Publishers: Grow your network within the publishing industry and pitch your book or article ideas to various publishers. Researching and targeting publishers aligned with your genre and style can enhance your chances of success.

  • Self-Publishing: Take control of your writing journey by self-publishing your work. Platforms like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing offer accessible avenues for authors to share their books with a wide audience.

  • Freelance Writing: Explore opportunities as a freelance writer, offering your writing services to clients across various industries. Freelancing allows flexibility and autonomy in choosing projects that align with your interests and expertise.

  • Business Writing Positions: If your focus is on business writing, consider submitting your resume to potential employers or applying for positions as a copywriter or content writer. Companies across industries require skilled writers to create compelling content for their marketing efforts.

7. Build your own portfolio

Once you’ve honed your skills crafting short stories, poems, articles, or marketing newsletters, it’s time to organize them into a portfolio. This collection serves as a showcase for potential employers or publishers, allowing them to assess your abilities and distinct writing style.

Building a website to display your portfolio facilitates easy access for others and can be linked in your application materials, such as your resume and cover letter.

8. Request for feedback

Once you’ve reached a level of confidence in your writing and your literary project, consider sharing it with friends or fellow writers for feedback. This step not only enhances your writing but also cultivates your ability to accept criticism gracefully. Here are some guidelines to follow when seeking input on your writing:

  • Choose your readers wisely: Select individuals whom you trust and who possess knowledge about writing or your specific genre. Seek out those who can offer honest and constructive feedback.

  • Ask specific questions: Direct reviewers to focus on particular aspects of your piece, such as character development, pacing, or dialogue. This targeted approach elicits more insightful feedback.

  • Remain open to critique: Listen attentively to feedback without becoming defensive. View criticism as an opportunity for growth in your writing career rather than a personal attack.

  • Express appreciation: Thank your critics for their feedback, regardless of whether you agree with all their points. Acknowledge the value of their input and express gratitude for their time and effort.

  • Implement feedback: Take time to reflect on the feedback received and incorporate it into revisions of your work. Utilize constructive criticism to strengthen and refine your writing effectively.

7 Common writing jobs to consider

1. News reporter

News reporter

US average salary: $44,544

News reporters and journalists play a crucial role in investigating, researching, and reporting on factual events for the news media. Their work spans across various mediums, including print publications, websites, radio, and TV broadcasts. They engage in thorough research and often conduct interviews with sources to gather firsthand accounts, ensuring the accuracy and reliability of their news stories.

Through their reporting, they aim to inform and educate readers or viewers about current events and developments.

2. Copywriter

US average salary: $63,165 Copywriters specialize in crafting written content for employers and clients, which includes developing material for websites, creating marketing content, and writing advertising copy. Their roles may vary, as they can work as full-time writers for a single company or agency, or they may opt for self-employment, seeking freelance writing opportunities.

3. Content writer

US average salary: $60,399

Content writers are responsible for crafting written material used in a company’s marketing campaigns. Their tasks may include contributing to newspaper or magazine articles, as well as developing content for social media campaigns. Additionally, content writers may conduct market research to gain insights into a company’s target audience and their specific interests and priorities.

4. Novelist

US average salary: $50,108

Novelists primarily focus on writing novels but may also venture into other forms of fiction and nonfiction. Depending on the chosen genre, extensive research and exploration of diverse topics are often necessary to generate distinctive and carefully crafted ideas. Additionally, novelists collaborate with editors to refine and enhance their work before it reaches publication.

5. Technical writer

Technical writer

US average salary: $64,118

Technical writers specialize in producing written content for businesses, elucidating the features, purposes, and advantages of a company’s products or services.

Their tasks encompass creating instruction manuals and how-to guides, aiding users in comprehending the operation of a specific item post-purchase. They bear the responsibility of incorporating all essential information to equip end-users with the requisite knowledge.

6. Grant writer

US average salary: $60,756

A grant writer is tasked with the creation, drafting, and submission of grant proposals on behalf of businesses or organizations. Their responsibilities encompass researching grant criteria and identifying private and public foundations offering funding opportunities.

In addition to writing grants, they may engage with donors and clients to address inquiries regarding the intended use of funds and the potential impact of a grant on a company or project.

7. Columnist

US average salary: $109,907

Columnists contribute opinion pieces to websites, magazines, or newspapers, often focusing on current events or news stories. Many columnists develop distinctive writing styles that cultivate a dedicated readership, potentially boosting website traffic or newspaper circulation. Their topics range from politics to fashion and personal advice, providing diverse perspectives on various subjects.

Conclusion

Regardless of the writing journey you embark upon, progress remains stagnant until you initiate action. Achieving success as a writer isn’t reliant on mystical forces or preordained fate; rather, it hinges on the consistency of your actions, even when faced with competing desires.

Pause for a moment and revisit the outlined steps, allowing yourself to brainstorm tangible ideas for the upcoming week. By taking proactive steps, you set the wheels of progress in motion, moving closer to your writing goals with each deliberate stride.

Summer

Marketing Manager of Mageplaza. Summer is attracted by new things. She loves writing, travelling and photography. Perceives herself as a part-time gymmer and a full-time dream chaser.



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