So you’re a creative writer. You write fiction. You scribe verse. You may even dabble in memoir. And college has been great to your craft. Come senior year, you can practically feel the unwritten pages of your great American novel pulsing through your veins. But there’s one slight hiccup in your master plan.
Getting a job.
It’s a common stereotype. The struggling writer. The romantic twenty-something aggressively waiting tables all day just to scratch out a few chapters on his night off.
Sounds terrible, right?
Well,, have no fear! Today I am here to debunk the myths that surround the creative writer’s post-college quest for employment and show you that you don’t have to suffer through endless shifts listening to Muzak and counting out your tips.
Myth No. 1: Creative writing? Oh, so you studied English in school. I guess you can be a teacher.
Reality: Remember, just because you studied writing in college, doesn’t mean you are destined to become a teacher (although that’s a totally respectable option). Still, there are loads of jobs for writers in schools and other educational settings. Have you considered becoming a secretary? What about working as a writing mentor or tutor for after-school programs and SAT prep? You could even become the faculty advisor for the school’s newspaper, blog, or literary magazine. And, if your local high school doesn’t have a publication of its own, consider starting one up as your leading pitch in the interview!
Myth No. 2: Internships? Stay away! They’re dangerous!
Reality: Let’s be honest, The common stereotype about internships in any field is that you will learn a whole lot about your boss’ taste in coffee and her favorite type of pen. But all it takes is a little hard work to suss out the positions that want you for your skills and work ethic. Instead of shooting for the stars and putting all your hopes on getting a coveted spot in the big five, look into smaller publishing houses (which might actually pay you for your time!). Is there a local press that needs a new bio on their website? How about an updated submissions page? Internships that want you for your writing will inevitably allow you to grow your skills without trapping you in the dungeon from 9 to 5. And who knows, if you build good relationships with your peers, maybe they’ll even take a look at your manuscript (if you ask really, really nicely and bribe them with cake).
Myth No. 3: Sure, you can get a job in writing, but you’ll never get paid to write what you actually want to write.
Reality: Not true! Yes,, perhaps a traditional job will require you to flex your writing skills by churning out office memos or community newsletters, but not one-time gigs. Take some time to investigate what freelance opportunities are out there for creative writers. There are tons of websites, like Upwork and Freelancer, where you can post your skill set and freelance employers will contact you with offers. And, while ghost-writing someone else’s novel may not be your dream job, it lets you put your creativity and writing chops to work. And, ahem. You get paid. Just make sure you keep it all documented for when tax season comes around!
So now you have absolutely no excuse, Creative Writers. I want to see you open up your laptops and revive those cover letters with enthusiasm. You can do this! Don’t let any of the myths deter you from achieving your dream. Let me know what other stereotypes you’ve heard about the creative writer’s struggle to find fulfilling work out there in the “real world.” Better yet, let me know what kinds of writing jobs you’ve found. Can we debunk these myths together?