Being a creative writer or artist is a popular career option among students, and with good reason! The world is full of exciting opportunities for writers, and the ability to make a living from your craft is more accessible now than ever before. Whether you’ve decided to go this route for personal fulfillment or to explore your passions further, you can put your creative skills to good use.
If you’re considering a career in creative writing, then consider these tips on how to prepare yourself for the job market.
Find Your Voice
One of the most important things you can do for yourself if you’re serious about pursuing a career in creative writing is to find your voice. No one else will ever be able to write your book or screen play, so you’ll need to find the voice of the person inside you that can bring your visions to life on paper (or pixels).
There are no hard and fast rules on how to do this, but perhaps the most important thing you can do for yourself is to write. Experiment with different styles and see how they work for you. If there’s a theme you consistently return to, then that’s something you can build on. The most important thing is that the story you’re telling feels authentic to you. This isn’t something you can learn from a book – it takes practice and lots of failed tries before you find what works for you. Your writing voice will develop alongside your confidence as you get familiar with the craft.
Get A Book!
One of the most important things you can do to prepare for your writing career is to get a book! Not just any book, either – you need to get a traditionally published work that can help you make contacts in the industry. Even if you don’t intend to pursue traditional publishing, it’s still essential that you build up a portfolio of publications that can help you secure future employment. Self-publishing is all the rage these days, but if you want to make a career out of writing, then you need to find a way to get your work in front of as many people as possible.
It can’t be stressed enough how important it is to get a book! It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece – even a simple, well-written book will do. All you need is a compelling story that you can bring to life through elegant prose and engaging characters. Consider using storytelling as a way to engage your audience and encourage them to learn more about your work. In a time when content is proliferating across social media platforms, having a well-written, compelling piece of work to share is more important than ever before.
Writers and artists often have to fight for their rights, so it’s important that you build up a support network both within and outside of academia. Make contacts, participate in literary and artistic forums, and get involved in your local writers’ group. Having a strong network is critical for securing future employment, especially in a time when it can be difficult to get work published. Platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter can make connecting with literary agents and publishers much easier. Even getting in touch by email can help, though it might take a while to get a response.
Beyond academics, your network can extend to friends, family, and other professionals – make sure you develop these contacts too, since you’ll often need them to help get your work published or to further your career. Being a professional is more than just getting a job – it’s about building a network of contacts that can help you progress in your career. A few years back, I wouldn’t have dreamed that I’d be doing what I do now, but I’ve slowly been building my network, and I wouldn’t have been where I am without it.
Get A Grant!
Funding for arts and culture is becoming increasingly available, and there are numerous grants available to writers and artists. Creative writing and art forms that don’t have a clear audience (such as comedy) are particularly suitable candidates for a grant, since the chance to explore new ideas and see how they play is valuable to artists and writers alike. There are plenty of grants out there to support your creative writing – look at your local library for funding opportunities, or see if your university has any funding for emerging writers.
If you’re applying for a grant, then be sure to find out what the requirements are. In most cases, you’ll need to submit a proposal that’s reviewed by a panel of judges. You can find out more from specialist websites like The Arts Council and Creative Scotland, or contact your regional arts council for more information.
Get An Agent
An agent is a professional who represents writers and artists in getting their work published. Agents can take care of the whole process from start to finish, which is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because they can make your job easier by applying their expertise to the task, and a curse because they take a cut of your earnings. It’s generally better to do your own handling of copyright and publishing – at least then you’ll be sure that you’re not being scammed.
Agents are essential for getting your work published if you’re serious about pursuing a writing career. One of the best things you can do for yourself is to get an agent. They will be able to help you craft a strong proposal that will be succinct and well-balanced. They will also be able to negotiate on your behalf with publishers, getting you higher payments and/or better terms. If you’re serious about breaking into the industry, then getting an agent is a must.
There are several different types of agents – literary agents and agents, for example, represent writers and artists respectively, and each comes with a different set of skills and expertise. A good agent will be sure to match you with the right publisher or manager for your work. Be sure to work with an agent who is a strong contender for the publishing house you’ve chosen. This way, you can be sure that you’re making the right decision for your work.
Get A Manager
A manager is someone who looks after the day-to-day business side of a performing artist or company. A manager can help you get your work staged, can negotiate on your behalf with venues and sponsors, can place your work in the right context, and can help you craft a compelling presentation. Some managers specialize in a single area, like finance or publicity, while others can take on multiple areas with one person.
It’s important to find a manager who represents the genre of work you’re interested in. It’s not unusual for artists to come together to form collaborative partnerships and share the workload – you can do this too by getting a team of writers and researchers to help you. If possible, you should try and find a manager who has experience in the industry you’re intending to enter – this way you can be sure you’re making the right choice for your work.
Being able to choose your own hours is one of the essential perks of being an independent contractor. If you’re not getting paid for your work, then you’ll need to find a way to generate an income – it’s good to have a part-time job in addition to your full-time studies. Even when you do end up getting a job, it’s going to be part-time and you’ll still need to find the time to study. It’s going to be a constant state of either being in school or working, and it’s something you’ll need to get used to if you really want to make a success of yourself.
If all of this advice so far has gotten you excited about pursuing a career in creative writing, then you’re in the right place! The last piece of advice I’d give you is to get yourself published. If you don’t have any publications to show off, then get writing. You can take this an alternative way and find your voice by writing short stories or poems. If you’re looking for a challenge, then try for a poem or short story in a genre you’re not that familiar with. Experimentation is a key component of becoming a great writer – it will help you find your voice and give you the skills to succeed in this demanding career!