You can probably hear the response from your parents already, if you are thinking about telling them that you want to do a degree in creative writing. ‘But, love’, they’ll say, ‘what about the employment prospects?!’.
It’s always a bit of a downer when you feel like your folks are standing in front of your dreams, thinking just about money when all you want to do is to learn how to be a professional writer. But maybe they are right – just a little bit at least: maybe it is worth thinking just a bit about what your undergraduate degree program will offer you in terms of future possibilities.
Because the sad thing about creative writing courses is that not everyone goes from their writing program straight into a cushty book deal. Not even everyone at the end of a creative writing course wants to keep being a creative writer. And others, unfortunate as it may sound, will just not have the talent or determination to fight for their work in the publishing industry.
So, as much as it pains us to say it, maybe you should listen to your parents for a moment. Because it is well worth thinking seriously about other options after your degree.
And luckily enough, there are many of them. From a professor to a librarian to an editor – or to something completely different entirely – there is a wealth of opportunities out there for you and your creative spark.
In this article, we’re going to have a look at what they are. You can check out our article on how to develop your creative writing for more!
The Skills You’ll Learn in a Creative Writing Degree.
But first, let’s take a look at the different skills that you will learn in a creative writing program at university. Because whilst, yes, you’ll be focusing on your creative process and your personal writing style, that’s not the extent of it.
Writing skills are one thing, for sure. However, besides those, there are the analytical skills, the time-management skills, the self-discipline and personal commitment, and the ability to see a project through to its end. All of these things are valued highly in the world of work beyond.
Here are three of the skills that employers will love to see in your creative writing degree. Find out more in our introduction to creative writing!
For many in the English department, it can feel that the majority of your time is spent just critiquing other people’s work. And whilst this is not done to quite the same degree in creative writing, critical reading and analysis are crucial to the role of the creative writer.
Why? Because you are constantly engaged in close reading of other people’s work. This means attention to detail, an ability to give constructive criticism, and an eye for errors in texts and arguments.
Self-Starter, Initiative, and Commitment.
There is no task that requires as much commitment and self-motivation as novel-writing.
The act of writing your first novel not only takes time. It takes guts, belief, and serious dedication right from the very beginning.
This ability to do it is very valuable to employers. It speaks of an ability to take risks and give yourself to something about which you are passionate.
The Art of Narrative and Communication.
In practical terms, professional writing is about communicating. It’s about spinning unity and coherence from seemingly disparate events.
This is a hugely valuable skill in life more broadly – particularly in a world in which ‘storytelling’ is one of the new buzzwords of business and marketing. To tell a story is not just to transmit information; it is about creating a beguiling world in which other people can take an interest and play a part.
What is creative writing? Find out in our article!
Jobs You Can Get with a Creative Writing Degree.
Given the transferable skills that the arts of fiction writing, poetry writing, screenwriting or scriptwriting actually boast, it should be no surprise that there in fact plenty of jobs around that are screaming out for the abilities of creative writers.
So, if your writing career seems not to be going so well after your creative writing major – or if you lose your interest in the field – remember that all is not lost. There is plenty you can do with your writing work beyond writing poetry.
A Poet, Novelist, Playwright, Screenwriter: A Creative Writer Proper.
So, it is the dream that everyone starting a degree in creative writing has: they will leave as a bachelor of arts and start playwriting full-time, start writing fiction, start adding their name to the list of the great figures in British literature or American poetry – or whatever it might be.
And yes, this is absolutely possible for those with talent and the desire to work hard to hone their craft of writing. Honestly, everyone is publishable: it is just depends on how much you are going to work for it.
Find out the key features of creative writing!
A Creative Writing Tutor or Professor.
Then there is the option of turning the tables and getting a different perspective on the classroom itself. Having graduated as a student of creative writing, why not work to become an academic in the field yourself?
To do this, you will need to reinforce your arts degree with a masters and a PhD – and it would help if you had some published work yourself.
However, teaching the writing classes and writing programs that you yourself experienced is a great way to use your writing qualifications.
Technical Writer and Copywriter.
Not all writers are called ‘creative writers’, even when the vast majority of writers use at least a little bit of creativity in their work.
Technical writing, for example, is the work that goes into all the texts that we take for granted: the user manuals, the niche-specific texts that require serious, particular knowledge.
Meanwhile, copywriters are those people who work with words in advertising. When you are writing for marketing campaigns, online creative content, or brochures, you are copywriting. It is a varied, fulfilling, and interesting career path for creative writers.
Journalist or Columnist.
You’ll know about journalism – and you may well have considered it as one of the writing careers you were ready to pursue.
This field is largely split into two subcategories: being a reporter and being a columnist – and the two channels require different skills and focuses.
As a columnist, the only prerequisite is experience: that the editor likes your writing style and content. However, to be a reporter, you probably will need further training – as it is a bit of a different game.
Here is why you should take a creative writing course.
Magazine or Fiction Editor.
Whilst a lot of people think that editors are just failed writers, this is not true or fair really. Editing requires something of a different skill set to writing – and it needs a different way of looking at literary texts.
Whether you want to work for a literary magazine or for publishing houses, editing is a very well-respected profession – and one that will be very rewarding for you too.
Librarians are some of the most underrated specialists and professionals around. They have specific skill sets and dedicated training; it is not just sitting around stamping books all day.
Having said this, librarianship is a great career path to pursue if you love literature but have had enough with creating it yourself. In fact, librarians need a deep and broad knowledge of books, their histories, and their classification.
Don’t underestimate librarians any longer!
Work in Comms or PR.
As we said, there is a real demand for employees with skills in storytelling and audience engagement in the world of employment these days. Someone who can spin a yarn that draws attention and brings people in is a skill whose power cannot be underestimated.
Working in communications and public relations is about managing, maintaining, and boosting the image of organisations in the eyes of the public. And being able to tell a good story is crucial among this.
Work in Social Media.
Like copywriting, work in social media is about selling an image, brand, or product through text, image, and video. And, like copywriting, it requires an ability to play with language and create intriguing posts, as much as it does a knowledge of the technical aspects of online.
Working in social media is fun – and it can be a great use of your creative writing degree.
Thinking Outside the Box.
Finally, it is worth saying that the world is no longer based on career paths that spread forward from childhood and never change.
People are these days working in fields that have nothing to do with their degrees at all – and they are flourishing. Employers take on people of all different types of skill.
So, if none of these jobs above tickle your fancy, do something else. What is stopping you?