Careers in Creative Writing: A Guide


What's creative writing?

It’s pretty self-explanatory, so it needs no definition really. What’s good to know is that as a study, creative writing is closely connected with disciplines like literature, communication, history, and philosophy. In academia, creative writing is classified into poetry, memoirs, screenplay writing, and fiction writing, with immense focus on narrativity, character development, and literary themes; they also focus on not following the pre-existing writing style and structure.

What does a degree in creative writing offer?

An undergraduate course in creative writing is for a duration of three to four years with six to eight semesters. In many universities, it’s taught as part of the English language and literature program, and studying this course will provide extensive knowledge in many other subjects, such as:

  • Postcolonial Literature
  • English Seminar and Retreat
  • Essay Writing
  • Fiction Writing
  • Editing Internship
  • Applied Linguistics
  • Poetry Writing
  • Gender and Literature
  • Creative Writing
  • Creative Writing Portfolio Capstone
  • Literary Publishing
  • Professional Writing and Editing
  • Style and Rhetoric

In the final year of study, there will be an extended creative project or a dissertation that the student will have to do as part of completing the course; this will help the learner broadly understand the essential aspects of the writing industry.

Careers for creative writers and skills required

  • Finding inspiration in everyday things
  • Creative thinking and problem solving
  • Critiquing works of significance
  • Creativity thinking
  • Time management and organization
  • Organizational skills
  • A good understanding of information technology (helps)
  • Adaptability
  • Pushing your imagination
  • Research skills
  • Editorial and proofreading skills
  • Knowing your audience

Taking up a degree in creative writing will hone your skills and train you to take up writing as a profession. This course will also open many other career options under arts, humanities, and media studies. Under this course, you will also read and learn about authorial techniques and different ways of analyzing and understanding narratives.

What are the different types of creative writing?

  • Biographies
  • Fiction: novels, novellas, short stories
  • Speeches
  • Poetry and spoken word
  • Playwriting/scriptwriting
  • Personal essays
  • Speeches

Top universities to study creative writing

Here are the top 10 universities globally to study the English language and literature, as listed in the Q.S. World Ranking.

Serial No. University Country
1 University of Oxford Oxford, United Kingdom
2 University of Cambridge Cambridge, United Kingdom
3 Harvard University Cambridge, United States
4 University of California, Berkeley (UCB) Berkeley, United States
5 Yale University New Haven, United States
6 Stanford University Stanford, United States
7 Princeton University Princeton, United States
8 The University of Edinburgh Edinburgh, United Kingdom
9 University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Los Angeles, United States
10 Columbia University New York City, United States

Now let us take a look at a few universities around the world to study creative writing programs:

  • Brown University – Private university in Providence, Rhode Island
  • New York University- New York City, New York
  • Johns Hopkins University – Baltimore, Maryland
  • University of Michigan- Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Columbia University- New York City, New York
  • The University of Iowa- Lowa City, Lowa
  • Cornell University- Ithaca, New York
  • University of Virginia- Charlottesville, Virginia
  • The University of Texas at Austin- Austin, Texas
  • Stanford University- Stanford, California

Further study

After pursuing an undergraduate course in creative writing, students also prefer to look for masters and Ph.D. programs. This provides a detailed study on different techniques and methods of creative writing.  The MA program will have a particular focus on industry-specific writing.  In the final year, the student will do a research project based on the topic of his or her interest. The Ph.D. program will have three components: writing a book, writing an accompanying critique, and extensive research.

Roles and career scope in creative writing

Creative writing has immense opportunities with the advancements in the I.T. field and technology sector. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data, in the U.S., jobs related to writers and authors are expected to have a growth of  9%from the year 2020- 2030, and this is about as fast as the average for all occupations. This growth will create 5,400 job opportunities in multiple fields each year.  Many of these job openings are created as a result of the retirement of the existing workforce.

Career options available after graduating in creative writing

  • Copywriter
  • Novelist
  • Publishing copy-editor/proofreader
  • Newspaper journalist
  • Technical Writer
  • Talent agent
  • Grant Writer
  • Editorial assistant
  • Web content manager
  • Film director
  • Lexicographer
  • Academic librarian
  • Blogger
  • Concept artist
  • Marketing executive
  • Primary school teacher
  • Social media content creator
  • Public relations officer
  • Journalist
  • Editor
  • Creative director (later in the career)


In the U.S., the median annual pay for writers and authors was $67,120 in May 2020.
In this field, the lowest 10 per cent earned  $35,880, and the highest 10 per cent earned more than $133,460 in May 2020. The median annual wages for writers and authors in the top industries of their work are as follows:

Performing arts, spectator sports, and related industries $82,350
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 70,400
Professional, scientific, and technical services 66,680
Information 63,980

Writers and Authors

Median annual wages, May 2020
careers with creative writing

Note: All Occupations includes all occupations in the U.S. Economy.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics

Now let’s take a look at a few job opportunities that are similar to those of creative writing and median annual pay in the U.S.:



News Analysts, Reporters, and Journalists-$49,300

Public Relations and Fundraising Managers-$118,430

Public Relations Specialists-$62,810

Technical Writers-$74,650

The future of creative writing

The demand for good creative writers has grown drastically after the internet revolution.  Now, most companies appoint freelance content writers to meet their requirements of content writing.  With large-scale digitization and the growth of smaller organizations, there’s a high demand for creative writers and content writers.

If you have a way with words and would like a career where you can use your creativity and writing skills, you can consider taking up creative writing as a career option. The opportunities are vast and growing rapidly.

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