How to Become a Writer or Author
Writers and authors may have to manage multiple assignments simultaneously.
A college degree in English, communications, or journalism is generally required for a salaried position as a writer or author. Experience gained through internships or any writing that improves skill, such as blogging, is beneficial.
A bachelor’s degree is typically needed for a full-time job as a writer. Because writing skills are essential in this occupation, many employers prefer candidates who have a degree in English, communications, or journalism.
Other Work Experience
Writers and authors can get job experience by working for high school and college newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations, advertising and publishing companies, or nonprofit organizations. College theater programs offer playwrights an opportunity to have their work performed. Many magazines and newspapers also have internships for students. Interns may write stories, conduct research and interviews, and gain related experience.
Employers may prefer candidates who are able to create a visual story using tables, charts, infographics, and maps. Knowledge of computer software and editing tools that combine text with graphics, audio, video, and animation may be helpful.
In addition, anyone with Internet access can start a blog and gain writing experience. Some of this writing may lead to paid assignments regardless of education. Writers or authors can come from different backgrounds and experiences.
Writers and authors typically gain writing experience through on-the-job training. They may practice and work with more experienced writers and editors before their writing is ready for publication.
Writers may need formal training or experience related to a particular topic that they want to write about.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Some associations offer certifications for writers and authors. Certification can show competence and professionalism, making candidates more attractive to employers. For example, the American Grant Writers’ Association (AGWA) offers the Certified Grant Writer® credential.
Certification may increase opportunities for advancement.
Writers and authors can get a start by putting their name on their work when writing for small businesses, local newspapers, advertising agencies, and nonprofit organizations. However, opportunities for advancement within these organizations may be limited.
Writers and authors may advance their careers by building a reputation, taking on complex writing assignments, and getting published in prestigious markets and publications. Having published work that has been well received and consistently meeting deadlines are important for advancement.
Many editors begin work as writers. Those who are particularly skilled at identifying stories, correcting writing style, and interacting with writers may be interested in editing jobs.
Adaptability. Writers and authors need to be able to adapt to updates in software platforms and programs, including various content management systems (CMS).
Creativity. Writers and authors must be able to develop interesting plots, characters, or ideas for new stories.
Critical-thinking skills. Writers and authors must be adept at understanding new concepts that they convey through writing.
Determination. Writers and authors must have drive and persevere to meet deadlines.
Persuasion. Writers, especially those in advertising, must be able to convince others to feel a certain way about a good or service.
Social perceptiveness. Writers and authors must understand how readers react to ideas to connect with their audience.
Writing skills. Writers and authors must be able to write clearly and effectively to convey feeling and emotion and to communicate with readers.