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So You Want to be a Professional Writer?

February 23, 2019 by Shelby Baile

So You Want to be a Professional Writer?

Becoming a writer has long been considered something of a pipe dream for many people. And, while the profession itself is respected, the idea of chasing this dream can be met with ridicule and scepticism. But the writing industry is far more diverse than you can imagine – and it’s growing!

There are many misconceptions about what exactly a writer does. Some people automatically assume that writer is synonymous with author, and that you aim to work solely within the publishing world writing novels, poems or stories. And, while some writers do focus purely on these forms of writing, this is a very narrow definition.

This is in fact, the realm of the creative writer.

The Creative Writer
Creative writing involves all forms of – you guessed it – creative texts. Typically, creative writing focuses on writing fiction and creative nonfiction, usually in long-form. And while the emergence of self-publishing has opened up the barriers to entry, this is still an industry full of fierce competition. However, don’t despair, while the creative writing path can be difficult, it can also be extremely rewarding and lucrative for the passionate few who do make it.

Another career pathway for would-be writers – that of a professional writer.

The Professional Writer
Professional writing is a role that can be found across almost all industries. No matter what industry you work in, there will always be some form of written communication needed – be it an instruction manual or job advertisement. And, while job title varies massively, there’s always a place for professional writers.

Professional writers are often responsible for writing in a range of styles, such as industry specific manuals, textbooks, company blogs, speeches and internal communications.

To be successful as a professional writer you have to be able to communicate clearly and effectively with your audience, and be able to edit and proofread your own and others’ work. If these are skills you excel at – a career in writing may just be the path for you.

Here are seven of the most common roles professional writers undertake in the professional world:

  • Copywriter – generates creative advertising campaigns, slogans, and promotional material either in-house or as part of an agency.
  • Speechwriter – highly specialised role, responsible for writing powerful and compelling speeches, usually for politicians and top-level executives.
  • Technical writer – experts on a particular topic, usually STEM, and are able to produce specific, technical documents that are easy for anyone to understand and follow.
  • Digital content writer/blogger – able to create online/social media content that is interesting and shareable in order to build a brand’s voice or popularity.
  • Communications officer – responsible for communicating internally and externally with a company’s audience to maintain a positive relationship.
  • Magazine feature Writer – researches and creates magazine features and articles that are timely and attention grabbing.
  • Social media manager – responsible for managing and communicating with the audience through social media apps and sites.
  • Editor – responsible for proofreading, rewriting and helping format work produced by writers before it’s published. Editors can also take on a leadership role by assigning work and publishing their unique viewpoint as editorials.

These are just some of the many career pathways out there for professional and creative writers with passion and the ability to create interesting, well-written content – all it takes is a little initiative!

If you’re not studying a writing major but have electives to spare, some writing units might also build on your practical or creative written communication skills.

Curtin students can also access our Career Guide: Writing via the Resources tab on UniHub.

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