You, creative writing majors, have many options,
In general, the more glamorous the career, the fewer the openings and the higher the threshold to entry. That said, someone has to write those things! Learning more about the industry, talking to people working in it, and creating your own material can help you figure out just how far your ambitions reach. Here are some links to help you start exploring.
Comic Books/Graphic Novels:
Are you a creative writer? Do you love drawing? If yes, you can think about the career of a graphic novelist. You may work in collaboration with others or independently. Benjamin Frisch talks about scripting, drawing, coloring, and lettering his own stories in How does an Independent Comics Artist Work?
Tom King also shares how he composes a Batman script in How does a Batman Comic Book Writer Work?
Video Games are a growing industry that offers career opportunities for creative writers. The following link provides you with valuable information about games writing: http://publish.illinois.edu/englishadvising/2017/06/20/so-you-want-to-write-for-video-games-some-resources/
Screenwriting for TV:
You can think about developing your career as a screenwriter for TV shows. However, this is not easy and needs long term planning because the script has to pass through a number of stages before it is approved. Are you thinking if there is any way to skip the stages? Yes, there is. You can make your way to TV via straight-to-series approach, and then you do not need to go through all these stages. You will find more information about different stages and approaches through which a script is accepted or rejected in Chris Ming’s blog How Hollywood Works: TV
A number of Department of English alumni are currently working in the entertainment industry and are happy to share their stories and advice with students interested in their fields. Make an appointment with Kirstin Wilcox, Director of Internships (333-4346) to join the alumni mentoring network and get access to this networking opportunity.
Best Strategies for Success? Make it Yourself
In creative fields, a lot comes down to what you can create. The more talent you can demonstrate, the better. The process is straightforward — but far from easy. The upside is, it’s up to you:
- Make stuff.
- Even better: make stuff with someone else.
- Find your voice.
- Have things to show people.
- Get people to watch/read/play what you’ve made.
High-profile creative work is not your only option, however. There are other ways to use your talent.
Copy writing: Copywriting may be a good career for you. As a copywriter, you may be hired in advertising agencies, public relations firms, or copywriting agencies. You can also work independently, and do freelance writing for a variety of clients. One of our alumni, Luke Trayser, gives valuable advice to those who are interested in developing their careers as copywriters: http://publish.illinois.edu/englishadvising/2016/04/13/alumni-snapshot-luke-trayser-copywriter/. You will find more information about how to be a successful copy writer here: https://medium.com/words-for-life/how-to-be-a-copywriter-f60fd17d4b68
Grant writing: You can utilize your creative writing skills in writing grants as well. Do you know that sometimes people are hired for positions that do grant writing? The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign organizes events such as Grant-a-thon that provide students with information about grant writing. The next Grant-a-thon is on February 16, 2018. You can find more information about the event and its benefits here: http://www.english.illinois.edu/news/#http://illinois.edu/blog/view/6661/499241
Community Learning Lab: Getting involved with Community Learning Lab can give you the opportunity to acquire valuable professional experience and to practice real-world job skills by doing community service projects for organizations in Champaign-Urbana. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get matched up with a project. More information can be found at http://publish.illinois.edu/englishadvising/2016/01/18/putting-your-skills-into-practice-spring-2016-community-service-opportunities-for-english-cw-and-toe-students/#sthash.nE8FuYWn.dpbs
Content Production/Development/Management/Creation: If you see the word “content” in a job title, it probably involves writing, very possibly for an online platform. A number of our alumni produce content for a living (what we used to call “writing”): Jasmine Lee and Carly Smith are two that you can read about. The key to finding these jobs is (a) to search widely, not just in fields tagged as “editing,” “publishing,” or “writing”; (b) to recognize that writing is a “related major” for any content-producing job, whether it’s listed or not, and (b) to have samples of your non-academic writing to send out, as well as course papers.
Also: Creative Writing Gives You Additional Skills!
Think about what you do in your creative writing classes and workshops. Yes, you write, but you also
- evaluate the effectiveness written communication,
- give constructive feedback,
- receive and use constructive feedback,
- work closely with others on often sensitive and confidential material,
- communicate across multiple platforms to many different audiences,
- read a lot of complex material quickly in order to talk intelligently about it,
- understand and work within a wide range of discursive contexts,
- solve problems and make decisions in a context of uncertainty and incomplete information.
These are important skills, relevant to a wide range of professional settings, that will set you apart.