Writers produce a wide array of written materials. Writers and authors create original written content for magazines, books, newsletters, online publications, advertisements and other forms of media. Writers and authors organize material and use words to convey ideas, information or story lines. Their written content is classified as fiction or nonfiction. Only writers that are paid to primarily write are included in the occupation.
Freelance writers are self-employed and sell their written content to magazine and book publishers, advertising agencies; movie, television and theater producers and news organizations. Many freelance writers are hired for recurring assignments or specific short-term assignments. Some writers might be commissioned by a sponsor to write a book or a script based on a proposal.
Writers are often categorized by the type of written materials they produce such as screenwriters, songwriters, playwrights, novelists, biographers and textbook writers. An increasing number of writers are producing scripted materials directly for the Web and other types of communication devices.
Writers perform research on their topics via libraries, personal observation, interviews and the Internet. Nonfiction writers perform comprehensive research and use pertinent sources and citations in order to gain credibility with editors and readers.
- Develop original written materials
- Revise their text to improve it
- Collect information
- Choose theme or subject for a writing project
- Provide sources and citations in their texts
- Verify sources
- Organize materials for projects
- Meet deadlines
- Confer with publishers and clients to discuss revisions
Due to laptop computers and advances in electronic communications, writers are able to work from home and other locations. The Internet provides more flexibility in where and how they complete their assignments. Some writers work from offices. Most writers set their own hours, however some writers do have regular office hours. Sometimes writers need to work during the evenings and weekends in order to meet deadlines.
Most writers utilize desktop or electronic publishing software, scanners and other types of electronic communications equipment. Those that develop material for the Internet such as online newspapers and text for video games should be knowledgeable about page layout, graphic design and multimedia software. They should also be knowledgeable about interactive technologies of the Web in order to blend graphics, text and sound.
Writers and authors need to be able to clearly express their ideas. Being creative and curious are helpful for the occupation. They also need good judgement and a good sense of ethics in deciding what materials to publish.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has forecasted a 15 percent employment growth for writers and authors from 2008 to 2018. Companies in a wide variety of industries are utilizing new multimedia technologies and online media to meet the growing demand for Internet based information and to reach technology friendly consumers. Online publications and services are growing in number which may increase the demand for writers and authors.
Some publishing companies, particularly those that rely on advertising revenues and sales receipts to support a large writing staff may employ fewer writers than in the past. Beginning writers may be able to take credit for their work by writing for local newspapers, small businesses, not-for-profit agencies and advertising agencies. Examples of perviously published written content helps writers advance in their careers.
Education, Certification, and Licensing
A bachelor's degree or higher is usually needed for a job as a writer. Many employers prefer to hire writers that have a degree in journalism, communications or English. However, people with other types of backgrounds that demonstrate good writing skills may also find a job as a writer.
Writers that want to focus on a particular subject may need to have experience or formal training in that topic. The Internet and other types of media allow people to gain writing experience through blog posts and self-publishing software. Some of this writing may lead to paid writing assignments based on a unique perspective, quality of writing or the size of a potential audience without an individual having an appropriate college degree.
Those seeking to become writers and authors can acquire training and experience by working on high school, college and community newspapers. Internships are provided by many newspapers, magazines and broadcast stations.
The top employers are professional, scientific and technical services; newspapers, periodicals, book and directory publishers; advertising and public relations.
Schools for Writers are listed in the Browse Schools Section.