Creative writing might be your passion, but it’s not always easy to make a career out of it. You have to be able to find paying markets for the stories, poems, and novels you write; and you have to be as talented at marketing as you are at writing to succeed. In addition, it can take you years of unpaid labor before you start to see profits from your writing-if you ever do. If you want to be a creative writer, you’ll need a day job to pay the bills.
It’s not easy to pursue your dreams while working full-time. The trick is to choose a day job that feeds your writing habit, rather than leaving you drained of energy and uninspired. The right day job for you is a very personal choice-it may not be the same as the right job for someone else. Even so, here are six jobs that are generally considered to be good for creative writers.
Professional copywriter. Copywriters write the ads that appear in print, television, radio, and online. Copywriters can work in-house for ad agencies or marketing departments, or they can work on their own as freelancers. If you feel you need to use your writing skills in your day job, copywriting can be a great career for you-and as a freelancer, you’ll have a lot of control over your own schedule. Some creative writers don’t enjoy writing sales-oriented materials, however-and some feel burned out on writing when they have to write during their day jobs.
Creative writing professor. Creative writing professors sharpen the skills of young writers. This job can be great for a writer who loves to talk about, critique, and lead writing groups. It’s also a job in a field that values literary merit over profit, which is an attitude that fits better with some writers than a more profit-oriented copywriting environment. However, these jobs can be difficult to get-and you’ll need to earn an MFA to qualify.
Ghostwriter. Ghostwriters write books and articles for clients. Ghostwriters get up-front fees and sometimes royalties for their project, but the clients get the credit. Ghostwriting can be lucrative, and if you freelance you’ll get control over your own schedule. However, it can be frustrating for some writers to allow clients to get credit for their work.
Editor. Editors edit books, magazine and newspaper articles, and other documents in preparation for print or online publication. Editors work directly with writers to make their writing more effective, and they may collaborate on design and layout as well. Magazine and newspaper editors often choose which stories to commission and see their ideas written by others. Editors may work freelance or for a publishing company, newspaper, or magazine.
Journalist. Journalists write for print publications. They have to interview sources, dig up leads, and write articles. Journalism is a demanding job with long hours, and it may be difficult for some writers to work on their own pursuits outside of work. It can be an ideal job, however, for writers who thrive on excitement and are talented interviewers. People with a passion for social justice often find themselves going into journalism.
Librarian. Librarians get to be around books all day. They recommend books for their patrons, help patrons with research, and often decide which books the library orders. If you love books you may love being a librarian. However, it isn’t a very lucrative field; you may need to get a Master’s in Library Science for a better-paying career.
It’s not easy to make a living as a writer. But choosing the right day job can help you make a living and make time for your own writing as well. Talk to people in the career you’re considering and do some research on your own, and you should be able to choose a career that will support your creative writing.