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Writers produce creative work, including novels, children’s books, poetry and travel and technical writing.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: Variable average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: Variable per week

1. Entry requirements

There are no set requirements.

You’ll need to:

  • be able to come up with ideas that will sell
  • have good research skills
  • be able to express ideas in a style suited to your intended audience

You’ll also need to have confidence in your writing, be able to accept criticism and remain positive.

There are a number of things you can do to develop your skills, find out more about the world of publishing and promote yourself, like:

  • joining a local writers’ group
  • entering writing competitions
  • blogging

You might be able to become a technical writer for industries like engineering or pharmaceuticals if you have the relevant background and qualifications.

A background in journalism could also help you to get into travel or broadcast writing.

You could work in TV or radio as a scriptwriter. BBC Writersroom has information and advice on writing and submitting scripts.

The Arts Council and National Association of Writers’ Groups has more information on writers’ groups.

The Poetry Society and Writers' and Artists has more information on writing competitions.

Writers' and Artists also has industry advice on being a writer and submitting work for publishing or self-publishing, as well as publishing the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook, which has information on literary agents, publishers, newspapers and magazines.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • self-discipline and motivation
  • perseverance and determination
  • drawing skills, if you wish to illustrate your own work
  • excellent research skills
  • the ability to meet deadlines
  • IT skills
  • the ability to market and promote your work

3. What you'll do

You’ll write novels, short stories, plays or poetry.

You could choose a writing specialism, like writing children’s books, travel or technical writing.

You could write features for newspapers, magazines, radio, film or television.

You may also write for social media, websites or blogs.

Depending on your role, your day-to-day duties might include:

  • choosing a subject based on personal interest, or on a commission given by agents or publishers
  • coming up with themes, ideas or plots
  • researching information using the internet, libraries and personal interviews
  • submitting your draft to a publisher, either speculatively or through an agent
  • revising your work after getting feedback
  • pursuing publishing opportunities

As an established writer, you’ll attend book signings, readings and discussions of your work, or run writing workshops.

You might also write print or online reviews on subjects like food, literature, film or theatre.

As a technical writer, you’ll develop instruction manuals, procedural documents and service manuals for a wide range of products. You could also write for the internet, describing services or producing guides on how to use websites.

You might work as a travel writer, creating guide books, features, hotel reviews or travel novels. Writing travel blogs, articles for websites and updating travel links on Facebook and Twitter might also be part of your job.

4. Salary

Freelance writers either negotiate a set fee for each piece of work or are given royalties based on a percentage of sales.

The Writers' Guild negotiates minimum rates for TV, radio, film and some theatre.

Payment from a publisher for a book deal would usually be negotiated by you or your literary agent.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll work on a self-employed, freelance basis. You’ll choose your own working hours, although you may still have to meet publishing deadlines.

6. Career path and progression

You could self-publish, in traditional print format, online or through e-books.

You might be able to promote your work by entering literary competitions, become a book critic or teach creative writing in colleges.

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Last updated: 10 September 2018