Arts & crafts

Writer

Writers produce creative work, including novels, children's books, scripts, poetry and travel and technical writing.

Annual Salary

variable

Average UK salary in 2018 was £29,588
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

37 to 39 variable

You could work: freelance / self-employed; managing your own hours

What's it all about?

Day to day tasks

Your day-to-day activities may include:

  • choosing a subject based on personal interest, or at the request of an agent or publisher
  • coming up with ideas, plots or content headings
  • researching information using the internet, libraries, site visits and personal interviews
  • developing your story, article, blog, review or instruction manual
  • submitting your draft to a publisher or editor
  • revising your work after getting feedback
  • uploading your work to websites or social media, or looking for publishing opportunities
  • attending book signings, readings and discussions of your work
  • running writing workshops

Working environment

You could work in an office.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • volunteering
  • applying directly
  • specialist training or self-teaching
University

You'll need a high level of writing skill and talent. To develop these skills, you could get a qualification like a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree in a subject like:

  • creative writing
  • English language or literature
  • creative and professional writing
  • journalism

You could also do a postgraduate writing course to get into this career.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 1 or 2 A levels, or equivalent, for a foundation degree or higher national diploma
  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
  • a degree in any subject for a postgraduate course
For more information
Volunteering and work experience

You can do several things to develop your writing skills and learn more about the world of publishing. These include:

  • joining a local writers' group
  • entering writing competitions
  • blogging online

Direct application

You might be able to apply directly for technical writer jobs in industries like engineering or pharmaceuticals, if you've got the relevant background and qualifications.

Experience in journalism could also help you to get into travel or broadcast writing.

Other routes

You could work in TV or radio as a scriptwriter. BBC Writersroom has information, advice and workshops on writing and submitting scripts.

You may be able to publish and sell your work without formal training or qualifications, if you're exceptionally talented and have taught yourself. A literary agent may be able to help you with this.

More information

Career tips

You'll need:creative ideas that will sell; good research skills; the ability to express ideas in a style suited to your intended audience

You'll also need to have confidence in your writing, be able to accept criticism and remain positive.

You'll need a portfolio of your work to show to employers and commissioning editors.

Further information

You'll find more advice about careers in writing through the National Association of Writers' Groups.

The Poetry Society and Writers & Artists have more details on writing competitions.

Writers & Artists also has industry advice on being a writer and submitting work for publishing or self-publishing. It publishes the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook, which has information on literary agents, publishers, newspapers and magazines.

You could self-publish, in traditional print format, online or through e-books.

You might be able to promote your work by entering literary competitions, become a book critic or teach creative writing in colleges.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • knowledge of English language
  • excellent written communication skills
  • persistence and determination
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • the ability to come up with new ways of doing things
  • ambition and a desire to succeed
  • knowledge of media production and communication
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
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