General Creative Writing

A degree program in general creative writing can familiarize you with general and specific writing principles. You acquire knowledge about methods for evaluating the caliber of writing and ways to tell a true or fictional story in an interesting manner. If you enjoy telling stories and want to discover possible career opportunities in this field, continue reading for more information.

Is General Creative Writing for Me?

Career Overview

Creative writers might explore many different methods of literary expression, including poetry, creative non-fiction, short fiction and traditional fiction prose. Choosing subjects that interest them and future readers, authors and creative writers develop works through research, imagination, multiple drafts, editing and proofreading. Their completed works may then be submitted to agents and/or publishers.

Salaried positions may exist with magazines and newspapers, or with broadcast and Internet companies. Many authors and writers are self-employed and work as freelance writers, submitting works to news organizations, producers and publishers, for possible purchase.

Specializations and Skills

Creative writers may choose to specialize as biographers, copywriters, novelists, songwriters or playwrights. A degree in creative writing can lead to a career as an author, a writer, an editor, a proofreader or a reporter. Individuals who enjoy travel and know a foreign language could become travel writers. A background in photography can lead to a career in photojournalism or provide opportunities for additional payment since many magazines and newspapers pay for photos, both individually and accompanying stories. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the best writers are creative, curious, self-motivated and able to express ideas clearly through writing (www.bls.gov).

Employment Information

The BLS projected that between 2012 and 2022 the demand for writers and authors would increase by 3%. In comparison, job opportunities for editors might decrease by 2%, while reporters and correspondents could expect a 14% decrease. In May 2013, the BLS reported that the median annual salary for editors was $54,150, and writers and authors earned $57,750. The median annual wage for reporters and correspondents was $35,600, while proofreaders and copy markers earned $33,130.

How Can I Work in Creative Writing?

Education

General creative writing programs are available through associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs. Although not always necessary, an associate's or a bachelor's degree program in general creative writing can provide you with the skills to create an interesting piece of fiction or nonfiction. This can lead to publication and a salaried or freelance position writing for magazines, newspapers or online publications. It can also lead to a career as an author. According to the BLS, a minimum of a bachelor's degree is required for a career as an editor.

Through undergraduate degree programs in creative writing, you explore techniques used by poets and other writers. You'll examine various writing styles and read different types of literature to discover what works and why. At the undergraduate level, you have the chance to produce different types of writing, including memoirs, screenplays, poems and short fiction. You receive critiques from university professors and fellow students so you can further develop your skills. Courses you might encounter include creative nonfiction writing, writing for young adults, technical writing, stage writing and American literature.

Master's degree programs in creative writing may cover all aspects and styles of creative writing or require you to select a specialization, such as creative nonfiction, fiction or poetry. Within these programs, you assess your own and others' writing skills and create works that are suitable for publication. Doctoral degree programs in creative writing include writing workshops where you assess traditional and contemporary literature, as well as literary theories. Creative writing programs are not career training programs; instead, they provide you with the opportunity to focus your craft.

Master's and doctoral degree programs provide additional training, which allows you to specialize in a specific area of writing, such as poetry or short fiction. This can also lead to additional opportunities as a magazine editor, a copywriter, a book critic or a staff writer for a newspaper or magazine.

Alternate Career Options

Pairing a degree in creative writing with undergraduate or graduate studies in another field can also lead to additional possibilities. For instance, with a graduate certificate or master's degree in teaching, you could teach creative writing at the high school level, and a graduate degree can lead to opportunities teaching at community colleges or universities.

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