If you’ve been thinking about a career in writing, then you’ve probably considered whether or not to apply for a creative writing degree. While there are many opportunities for writers without a formal education, those who have a degree may find their options greatly expand. In this article, we’ll discuss 12 things you can do with a creative writing degree, followed by some advice on how to choose a school, and what to study once you’ve gotten in.
1. Start Your Own Literary Blog
One of the primary jobs of a literary agent is to find their clients work opportunities in the media world. When an agent’s client lands a book deal, the first stop is usually the editor of a well-respected magazine or newspaper. If you’ve got a degree from a prestigious university, then you may find yourself in an ideal situation to pitch your writing to some of the biggest publications out there. If you’re lucky, they may even give you a small stipend to help you along your way.
Having a degree in creative writing from an Ivy League school doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to writing for journals and cultural magazines. If you can show initiative and are able to articulate your thoughts well, then you may be able to convince an employer or even an educational institution to give you funding for an independent literary journal. If nothing else, a literary journal is a good opportunity to display your creative writing skills and gain some experience in preparing articles for publication.
2. Pitch Magazine Submissions
One of the things that makes a literary agent so valuable is their network. When an agent’s client receives a magazine pitch for submissions, the first person the editor usually turns to is the agent. In most cases, the agent will have already pitched the specific article to several publications, ensuring that your article isn’t overlooked simply because it wasn’t previously pitched. When you join the ranks of an agency, you’ll be provided with a list of publications that you can pitch to. If you decide to pursue this avenue, then make sure you choose your schools very wisely. You don’t want to limit yourself to pitching to publications that are closely associated with your Alma Maters. Instead, look for schools that have a strong reputation and can potentially land you interviews with some of the biggest names in media. When you graduate, you’ll have the opportunity to work as an intern for a well-known magazine. From there, you can progress to a full-time position or continue pitching your articles to magazines and newspapers.
There are many ways to get work experience, which is valuable not just within the world of publishing. If you’re a student at a reputable university, then take advantage of their professional development programs. For instance, the Creative Writing Program at NYU can provide you with invaluable experience by connecting you with various editors and journalists who are willing to discuss your work and even give you some editorial guidance. If you go this route, then be sure to reach out to the Office of Graduate Studies at your chosen university to see what opportunities they can provide. Many universities have professional development programs geared toward students who want to pursue a career in publishing. These are often times fully funded, so make sure you take advantage of them. You can also look into independent study programs, where you can work with a private tutor who can help you develop your skills and get you ready for the real world. Finally, try to get involved with student groups that can help you network and make connections with people who can guide you in the right direction.
3. Get A Teaching Job
If you’ve got a genuine love for teaching and getting paid for it, then a career in education can be a great fit for you. There is a wide array of opportunities out there, from elementary school to high school and everything in between. If you decide to get a credential and become a high school English teacher, for example, you can expect to start out making around $40,000 per year, increasing to over $60,000 after several years on the job. The key here is to find a school that doesn’t require you to have your bachelor’s degree, as many schools will require you to complete your bachelor’s degree in order to gain your teaching license.
Beyond the salary, there are plenty of perks to a career in education. You’ll get to work in a school setting and be able to interact with and inspire students. This can also be a stepping stone to a career in publishing, as many magazines and newspapers now require their writers to have some teaching experience under their belt. When you combine this with a creative writing degree, then you’re essentially set for life in regard to career opportunities.
4. Pursue An Agent Or Literary Fellowship
An agent is typically the first stop for those who want to break into publishing. When an agent’s client wants to become published, the agent usually helps them get an idea of what kind of publishing house could potentially be interested in their work. If you’re lucky enough to land an agent, then things can really start to open up for you. However, this can take some time, as most agents will only represent a select group of authors. If you’ve got the connections, then make sure you contact as many agents as possible and see which one of them represents your ideal publishing house. Alternatively, you can apply for a literary fellowship. A literary fellowship provides you with money to pursue your goals. To qualify, you must have a demonstrated interest in literature, be a graduate of a reputable university, and have a fellowship proposal in hand. Once you’ve received the fellowship, then you can use it to take a class or enroll in a creative writing workshop that can help you hone your skills and prepare you for your career in publishing.
5. Join A Society Of Writers
If you happen to be a fan of Jane Austen, then it’s time to join a society of writers. There are several well-established literary societies out there that will help you make connections and advance your career. The most important thing you’ll need to do is simply join the society. You don’t need to do anything else. Once you’ve joined, then you can start looking for opportunities to submit your work and begin to establish yourself as a credible and talented writer. When you join a society of writers, you’ll be presented with a list of literary journals that you can submit your work to. Many of these journals have extremely high submission standards, so make sure you meet them to really stand out.
6. Try Your Hand At Editing
As a graduate of a reputable university, you’re in a position to try your hand at editing. If you’ve got a passion for books and an eye for detail, then editing may be the position for you. The job of an editor is to look at several different versions of a manuscript and craft the final product into something that is professional, polished, and compelling. This is a lot of work, so make sure you’re willing to commit to it. Most of the editors at publishing houses and large media organizations have to put in a lot of overtime, as there are usually several projects going on at any given time. In order to get started, you’ll need to connect with an editor who is willing to give you some editorial guidance. When you’re starting out, it’s a good idea to ask other editors for references or to read some of their previous works to get an idea of how they handle themselves in a professional setting. Aside from editorial guidance, you’ll also need to decide how much you want to charge. Most editors will need to see a sample of your works before they’ll give you an idea of what you’ll need to charge. However, the key to getting this job is connecting with an editor who already has experience and knows your work. When you do get hired, then expect to start out making $45,000 per year, with this figure increasing to over $60,000 after several years on the job. While the pay isn’t bad, it isn’t great. You’ll need to find other ways to make money. When you’re starting out, put yourself in as many positions as possible. For instance, if you’re a diligent and focused student who wants to get into publishing, then try getting some of your work published online for free. This way, you’ll be able to build a small audience and eventually, you may be able to get a book deal or even a magazine contract. Beyond that, you can look into getting an editorial role at a publication. Most large media organizations and prestigious publishing houses now have an editorial department. Sometimes, these roles are opened up to freelancers. If you can build up a good sample of your work, then it’s worth applying for an editorial role at a publishing house or large media organization.