So you want to be a writer. What exactly does that mean? Do you have a story in your heart that you need to tell? Perhaps you get a thrill out of playing with different combinations of words to create the most ear-pleasing results? No matter your reason for wanting to write, the fact that it is something that you love is what’s important. The great news is, there are many ways you can turn this passion into a career. From poetry and prose to technical documents and scholarly journals, words are the foundation of many parts of society. The trick is finding the realm for you.
To help get you on the path to finding out what sort of writer you want to be, we’ve gathered up the ultimate list of writing types and careers. Which one (or ones) will you choose to pursue?
Writing for scientific journals, scholarly articles and university magazines is not for the faint of heart. The results can make or break careers and do not often lead to financial success on their own. Steer clear unless academia is your passion.
You know the “expert witness” who gets called in for a court case? That could be you! Highly specialised writers in niche fields and esoteric topics can often be paid top dollar to write well-informed articles on the subject(s) they know best.
If you have a wide variety of interests or truly unique insights, you may be just what a newspaper or magazine is looking for in a columnist. It can be tricky to write a different topic for the same column every week (tell me about it – these Writing Wednesdays add up!), so you need to make sure you are always on the lookout for relevant new topics.
Think the life of Peggy from Mad Men is for you? Then copywriting may be right up your alley. Any text that falls under the Marketing category is “copy,” so if you can find a role as a staff writer you will become one of the company’s most important players (but be aware: that does not mean the role is glamorous). From catalogues to websites to packaging to advertising, copywriters essentially provide all the words needed to help sell.
Are you passionate about music, food, travel, fashion, wine and other subjects that fall under the “cultural” headline? Then becoming a lifestyle writer, freelance or otherwise, could be a great opportunity to explore these passions further.
Granted, the “fiction” category could probably be about ten categories on its own. If you have a story to tell that doesn’t already exist in the world (or a unique spin on a common theme), then fiction writing could be for you. Now, to choose a genre. Will you write science fiction, romance, horror, mystery, legal thrillers, dark humour, youth literature…
Poetry and Songwriting
If the structure of what you want to say is just as important as the subject matter, then poetry could be for you. And why not take it one step further and try setting your poem to music?
Much like film and television acting is entirely different than in the theatre, writing for the screen is a whole new beast. Not only do you need to craft a story, but you need to be able to visualise how a director will interpret it for the camera. The good news is, if your script gets picked up, it could be a lot of fun seeing it come to life (not to mention the royalties that could come along with it!).
Possibly even more tricky than screenwriting, writing for the theatre involves strict stage direction as you cannot rely on strategic edits and camera angles to help sell your story.
Speeches and Ghostwriting
Do you want to help get a story out into the world but don’t care about the recognition? Writing for politicians or helping assist non-writers with their memoirs can be highly rewarding when you see the reaction to the final product, and allows you to make money from this sort of writing while saving your name recognition for something else.
You won’t be a successful journalist unless you are equally as passionate about the journalism side as you are about the writing. This involves proper schooling in the subject, an ability to stick to deadlines no matter what and a keen awareness of the world around.
If you don’t mind not getting to create the source material, translating can be a great way to use your language skills to bring a piece of writing to a new audience. And that isn’t to say there is no glamour in this profession: Sometimes the translated version ends up being far more popular than the original!