How to Become a Writer

This article provides in-depth information into What is a Writer? What Writer do? Degrees for Writer, Steps to become Writer and much more.


What does a writer do?

A writer is a person who is engaged in writing their thoughts and ideas as stories, articles, poems, journals. A writer as a professional conceptualises ideas, researches, writes, edits the scripts to make it easy for the audience to read. 

A writer can choose to work across various genres such as fiction, nonfiction, poetry, satire and in various industries such as technical writer, blogger, editor, copywriter, novelist, creative writer, feature writer and other.

The writing skills is important in the professional world and it is developed over time with experience and practice 

  • Conduct research on the topic you want to write

  • Write exhaustive articles, scripts, novels with appropriate research

  • Choose subject matters according to the reader interests

  • Prepare drafts and approach the editors 

  • Receive feedback from the clients

  • Writ copies to advertise in newspapers, magazine, broadcast and internet

Writers salaries

According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics,  The average salary for a Writer in the United States is $60,088 per year and the salary ranges from $50,198 and $69,727 and the salary typically depends on the amount of experience, education, certification and additional skills.

Not all writers want to be in the occupational field and two-thirds of writers are self-employed freelancers and their salaries varies. 

Professional, scientific, and technical writers earn about $61,630. Entertainment  and recreation writers earn $59,290.The Educational services, state, local, and private writers earn about $52,340.

Job growth

The advent of the writer's profession has given a new dimension to the internet, social media, online publishing and media productions. According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics the job growth of the writers is expected to increase by 8 percent compared to the average job growth during the period of 2016 to 2026.

These changes and new employment openings are added due to the growth of talented writers with digital skills and being competitive in the marketplace.

Steps to become a Writer

Being a writer is like diving into a diversified career path, this may depend on your field of interest and you must decide firmly on what kinda writer you want to become. Here are six common steps you can follow to become a professional writer,

Step 1- Earn a high school degree

The first step to get a high school degree or an equivalent education which is the minimum educational requirement to qualify for a writing job. This gives you the proficiency in computer usage, writing, reading and editing skills. With good writing practice,  you can start preparing towards being a professional.

Step 2- Decide on your Career path

You must decide upon what you want to write and specialise in, it could be deciding upon the different genres such as fiction, nonfiction, biography, poems, novels and other. You can also  decide on what industry you want to enter such as technical writer, blogger, editor, copywriter, novelist, creative writer, feature writer.

Before choosing your education, be sure on what you want to write, you could also explore your interest as you start writing.

Step 3- Complete your writing education

Your writing education could be of two types. One, being the formal training by obtaining an Associate’s degree in English or Bachelor's degree in English, Journalism or Communication. These degrees give you skills on creative writing and how to emphasize on the words used,you can be chosen if you want to work as a full time writer. 

Second, Informal education is learnt through experience, as you get exposure by publishing your writings in the newspaper and other mediums, you gain knowledge with the technicality and familiarity with the improvement of the articles.

Step 4- Gain experience

After obtaining education, you seek to gain a practical experience where you apply your classroom learning in real-world projects. You could begin writing as early at your college for the theaters as a playwright, college newspaper. Gradually enter into the professional writing in the fields of business, marketing or healthcare. An internship could help you develop new skills in writing and also get to be supervised under an experienced writer.

Step 5- Land on a job

After gaining sufficient education and experience, you could get a full-time job opportunity in the industry of your interest. But if your interests are towards writing novels, poems, screenwriting you could be hired based on your work and experience. This requires your dedication and persistence.

You must note that a writer or an  author required several hours of on- the -job training and experience.

Getting a certification from the Certified Grant Writers or the American Grant Writers Association can increase your credibility. These certifications helps writers gain professionalism and competence which demonstrate  higher chances of getting hired among the applicants

Step 6- Earn an MA/ MFA

If you are career-oriented and interested in advancing your career better, you could choose the Master of Arts or Master of Fine Arts which gives you better understanding on the literature and writing techniques. This is an optional degree and if you are interested in pursuing PhD level, this acts as a bridge to your professional.

Types of degree for a Writer

Every writer may not require an educational degree in English. But obtaining a degree can be a great start for your career as a writer. Here the degree programs you can choose are,

Associate’s degree in Writing: An associates degree is a two years program which focuses on the entry level skills to start your career. This gives you 60 to 66 credit hours to complete the program. This acts as a stepping stone to start the bachelor's degree with an easy transition and transfer of the credit hours. The degree helps in improving the creativity required for a writer with suitable workshops, assignments, theoretical skills,  business communication, advanced composition and editing. 

Bachelor's degree in Writing: The bachelor's degree is a for year program which is usually chosen by students who want to pursue a full time career in writing. This course offers general coursework on the english literature, creative writing and writing emphasis with the exposure to practical experience to be marketable.

Master’s degree in Writing: It is a two year program with full-time study to complete also may also require a thesis or final year project to graduate.  The degree program includes the Master of Arts in rhetoric and composition, Master of Arts in literature, Master of Arts in creative writing, Master of Arts in professional writing, and a Master of Fine Arts

PhD in writing: You can choose the doctoral program in Writing if you want to work as a scholar, educator at the university level. This program takes up to five to six years till you complete your research work in writing. You could choose a specialisation in composition, creative writing and literature. 

Certification in writing: A writing certificate program can be helpful for you if you are interested in learning the professional skills about  writing and knowledge in multiple areas. These certifications range over various areas such as fiction, film writing, grant writing. You could obtain certification from the Certified Grant Writers or the American Grant Writers Association to increase your earning potential.

Concentrations to be considered for a writer

Academic concentrations: Here are some common concentrations you study at various education levels,

English literature

English literature is the study of writing and literature around the world. It also involves the introduction to different elements of writing and coursework on the American and English literature.

Skills acquired:

  • Learn different elements of writing

  • Learn on insights of how to improve their writing

  • Study the literature and texts around the world

English composition

This course is an introduction to the fundamentals of reading and writing skills with the focus on the composition, writing process, business writing, grammar and rhetoric, and language theory.

Skills acquired:

  • Learn about the importance of grammar, composition, writing skills

  • Basic concepts on the reading and writing

  • Composition of articles according to various industries such as the nonprofit groups, government agencies, publications, entertainment, media and business. 

Creative writing

This course educates the students on the creative writing genres such as non-fiction, fiction, children’s literature, young adult literature, poetry and scriptwriting and also the type of creative writing such as the short story, narrative essay, and memoir.

Skills acquired:

  • Constructing and structuring of the writings

  • Preparing the drafts, editing and rewriting the story according to the genre.

  • Understand the literature theory

  • Learn the experimenting of composition

Rhetoric and composition

This course is a broad understanding of composition theory, rhetorical theory, literacy studies, and research methodologies. The writing could be based on public discourse, genre theory, race and writing, gender and writing, and writing and emerging technologies.

Skills acquired:

  • Learn the professional writing methodologies

  • Improve on written communication

  • Learn literature theory

Literacy study

This course is to educate students about the literacy study and its improvement. Also includes the assessment practices with the standards with a flexible study for students pursuing a career in the field of publishing, professional writing or editing.

Skills acquired:  

  • Study about writing and literature

  • Professional writing techniques

  • Publishing of articles

Professional writing

This course is to prepare students who are interested in writing in government, business or for industry practices and learn corporate writing practice.

Skills acquired:

  • Learn the techniques about professional writing

  • Learn grant writing, writing in policy development

Master of fine arts

This is to offer knowledge to students who focus on their creative writing and it includes the emphasis on the word along with the real-world skill development.

Skills acquired:

  • Development of creative writing skills

  • Improve the word choice and emphasize on required words

  • Understand the practicality of the writing

Job concentrations

As you study the diverse courses, you get marketable to a numerous career opportunities, Here are some career concentration you could choose with the degree you earned to become a writer,

Technical writer:

A technical writer is a professional writer whose duties are to prepare documentation, instruction manuals, write complex information as a simple guide. They work in  fields such as engineering, industries, engineering, business and others. These information are written to target a certain audience such as customers, staff. The salary earned by a technical  writer may range between $41,000 to $87,000.

Grant writer:

A grant writer is expertised in writing for the government agencies, charities, private foundations to provide information on the funding, grant submission, grant proposal. This includes the completion of the application process, creation process of the grants and maintaining the financial records. This job offers an average salary of $70,735 per year.

Science writer:

A science writer is a  person who writes about the innovations, advancement, discoveries and facts related to astrophysics, biotechnology, climate change, and genetics. The content they write is reader friendly and can be understood by audiences of all ages. A science writer is specialized in trade and professional publications, specialist scientific and technical journals, and the general media. The salary offered to a science writer may range from $48,000 to $86,000 annually.

Screenwriter:

A screenwriter, also called a scriptwriter is usually self-employed who works with the media, theater, television to write scripts. It may be an original content or modification of a novel, short story, comic book or another film. This job requires you to be extremely creative, narrative and ability to write unique scripts. You could earn up to $60,000 per year as a screenwriter.

Copywriter:

A copywriter is a professional who is connected with the act of prompting or selling a business. The role includes the creation of content with an agenda to  propagate such as advertising or a public relation material. They also work on targeting a specific audience in formats such as social media posts, emails, blog posts.

The salary offered ranges between $35,000 to $65,000 per year.

Stand out skills for a Writer

Here are some necessary skills listed to stand out as a writer and help you become a successful writer by increasing your earning potentials,

Language skills: A writer’s profession is to use a common language to reach his audience, and hence  his skills with the language must be excellent. This includes the grammar use, vocabulary, spelling, choosing the right word, language skills with proper sentence formation. The language skills help  in connecting the audience with the views of the writer, hence it requires precision. 

Imagination: The profession of a writer depends on his imagination skills and creativity. With good narrative and imaginary skills he puts his views and thoughts on the paper and this makes it different from just raw material with words.

Ambitious: Not all writers work at a job at an organization, many are self employed freelance writers and hence to be a successful writer among the lot, you must be a highly motivated individual and enthusiastic about your career. Being ambitious helps make new contacts, clients.

Narrative skills: A writer always puts his thoughts across words or the readers, hence extraordinary narrative skills are required to keep the readers engaged. Especially for a songwriter, screenplay writer, it is important to narrate the story in an effective manner to connect with the audience.

Digital media: You must be aware of the latest technologies used in the marketing landscape to be a successful writer. You must be aware about the Search Engine Optimization, content writing, HTML,CSS and other techniques to publish yourself at the digital media.This allows you to create content based on your audience and online readers.

Research skills: Producing informative content requires high knowledge and researching skills, you could go in-depth and extract information on the topics you write to give more knowledge and facts to the audience.

Writer Salaries

Writer