Career Spotlight: Creative Writing Degree

Writing

At one point in time, I contemplated getting a degree in Creative Writing. I’ve had the dream of being a writer since I was four years old, and now that I’m “grown up” I figured I’d look back and see what I would have had to put myself through for this degree.

It is assumed if you get a degree in creative writing that you will spend your days penning the Great American Novel or teaching (2). You are not necessarily boxed in with these two careers, there are other career options out there: advertising, technical writing, ghost writing, family history writer (3, 4). [Link number 5 has a list of 20 careers a Creative Writing major could pursue.] The beauty of this degree program is that you are not limited to any industry in particular.

So what does it take to be a Creative Writer?

Being self-driven and have the initiative to pursue projects on your own is a great start. It isn’t very often paid writing opportunities fall in your lap, especially if you are a freelance writer. Also, being prepared to do a lot of freelance work and sponsored posts you may not completely agree with in order to earn money, get experience, and build your resume. Having a blog, maintaining a posting schedule, and providing relevant content has worked in the favor of some.

Two websites give some realistic advice on what may be like pursuing a Creative Writing Career. “The writer has to stumble through a number of odd-jobs to figure out how much they…need [in terms of] stability vs. flexibility” (2). Stability vs. flexibility could vary from work load to income to paid work vs. personal projects. Link number4 is an answer thread where one of the commenters made a good point about what life may be like for Creative Writers. You have three options: support self via writing; writing is your side hustle while working a bill-paying job; or move where artists are government subsidized. Supporting yourself with your writing is a long and difficult path. Unfortunately, it’s not one most have the luxury of sitting around writing all day. Most creative writers live by option 2: they have an outside job that pays the bills, and writing become either a hobby or side hustle. The third option is one that I feel is radical and may not pay off in the long run. Not many countries subsidize artists. The link has more information on this though. So if this is a change you’re willing to make, please do your research before making a hasty decision.

2014 wage estimate: $28.30 per hour / $58,850 annual income

I did a quick informal interview with someone who pursued a creative writing degree. Here is what she had to say:

Michelle J. Interview:

  1. Why did you choose Creative Writing as a major?

I love writing and plan to eventually be a published author so I thought this would be a helpful and enjoyable BA.

  1. What was your intention with this degree?

To get a BA so I could get my Masters.

  1. Did you research career options and earning potential?

Eventually, but since it was a means to an end, not originally.

  1. Were either in the previous question a factor in your decision?

Yes, it was a BA I would enjoy while checking the bachelors box on the path to masters.

  1. Have you achieved, on any level, what you intended to achieve with this degree?

Yep.

  1. Is there anything you’d like to say to someone considering getting a creative writing degree?

Do it because you love it, not for money, and maybe double major in something more marketable.

  1. Would you go back and pursue something else, knowing what you know now?

No, but I might focus more.

© Cori Large February 9, 2016

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24 Responses to Career Spotlight: Creative Writing Degree

  1. I loved the Creative Writing class I took in college. I too aspire to be a published author one day but I chose my degree in English rather than focusing it on creative writing. I felt it gave me a broader knowledge to all the other areas that go into writing such as editing that would still help me in the future.

    • caendicott says:

      I’ve taken many Creative Writing classes over the years and enjoyed them all. If nothing else, I write for myself.

  2. It is funny how things change over time. In high school I did everything to avoid taking creative writing. Now, if I was to redo it I think I would consider getting my degree in creative writing. I agree with Michelle, some degrees aren’t about the money they are about the love, this being one of those.

    • caendicott says:

      Agreed. However, my boss who majored in Sculpture tells her College Success students: take these classes as you electives so you stay sane, but get a real degree. After getting all my “real” degrees, I’m now taking classes for the fun of it and I don’t have the worry about whether or not I pass the class.

  3. It’s never too late to follow your dreams. Go for it!!

  4. Candy says:

    I have loved and hated writing. Seems be the way I work

    • caendicott says:

      Every writer has a love-hate relationship with writing. You’re not the first, and won’t be the last.

  5. Lexi says:

    What a great interview! I’ve always enjoyed creative writing. It was always my favorite subject in school

  6. Jenny says:

    Never considered this type of degree, mainly because I didn’t like writing. And now I have a blog and really wish I’d paid more attention in my writing classes.

    • caendicott says:

      haha! I thought about this degree when I was younger, but was pushed/encouraged to pursue a real/better degree.

  7. Neely (@Neelykins) says:

    I always loved taking creative writing classes! This is really cool

  8. Oh interesting I have a friend who’s taking creative writing, it’s nice to see it more detailed.

  9. Creative writing as a degree is never going to be a “career path” that pays off. Creative writing degrees are for personal satisfaction and love of writing. But bills must be paid. I majored in applied writing and had a long career in PR. My creative writing has always been side work.

  10. Liz Mays says:

    I’ve always wondered what that degree would lead to, so this is really interesting. Thanks for the interview.

  11. Roxy says:

    I love the honesty of this interview, specifically, the advice to someone pursuing this degree. When I was younger I thought I wanted to be a professional dancer, but I realized I’d have to “starve for my art” and my love of shopping trumped my love of dance. Careers in the art definitely have to be pursued with love and passion.

  12. I totally agree with her that if you want to pursue a creative writing degree you need to do it because you’re passionate about it, not for the money. I have an English degree with an emphasis on creative writing and I got my degree because it was important to me to have a college degree. It was beneficial for me. I had some fantastic writing teachers who I learned a lot from and were really encouraging to me. But you don’t need a degree to be a writer. I have a job that pays the bills and I pursue writing on the side. It really is something that you need to be passionate about, but I’m fine with that. I love writing and I love my day job (most days), so it works out well.

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