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Most writers toil for many years trying to get their work published. Writers are known for their persistence, self-discipline and tenacity. Writers express ideas and stories clearly and logically and are masters of the English language. They plan, research and write books, scripts, plays, essays, speeches, manuals, specifications and other non-journalistic articles for publication or presentation.
As a general rule, there are two types of writing one can produce: fiction, sometimes called creative writing, and non-fiction or technical writing. Fiction writers use their imagination to create and weave tales. They often base their work on personal experiences, although their work often includes some form of research. They generally produce novels, poems, plays, and screenplays. Non-fiction writers base their work on research and fact checking. They are technical writers, and scientific writers and often produce manuals and instruction booklets.

The majority of writers work on a freelance basis, selling manuscripts and articles to different printed media. In fact, many freelance writers are versatile in their work, writing articles and fiction along with editing manuscripts, proof reading, ghostwriting and copywriting. For any writer to be taken seriously, they must produce a portfolio of their best published work. A good way for writers to build a portfolio is to write non-paying assignments for a while (sort of like volunteering) and make a name for themselves. This is an industry in which writers must be willing to start out on a small scale and work their way upwards. The more one writes, the better confidence, skill and ability one will attain. This shows clearly in one's work.

Writers usually finish many works before getting published. Fiction writers often do a considerable amount of public relations work such as book tours and readings of their work. Since the only way to earn money from fiction is through sales, writers have to help get their work into the hands of readers. Many established writers work closely with editors, directors and producers to ensure that facts and ideas are presented accurately.

In order to supplement their income, most writers work part-time in other jobs or occupations. Unless one is independently wealthy, it is hard to live as a freelance fiction writer. When writers become established and successful, they may begin writing full-time and earn enough money from published works -- the dream of every true writer. Again, freelancers must learn to accept rejection and not take it personally. Some writers work for years before they get noticed. Publishers and editors receive hundreds and hundreds of manuscripts each day, so unless you know someone in the business, you have to hope that someone happens to read your work.

Writers must have the ability to concentrate for long periods of time and sit in front of a computer screen.. In keeping up with technology, writers should know how to use electronic publishing programs and computers. Successful writers develop effective work habits and learn what hours and which places they work best in. Finally, if you ask a writer how to become one they will basically tell you to start writing. Those who write are writers.
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  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
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  Interests and Skills  
Good writers know how to express ideas clearly in writing. They also need to be knowledgeable in their interest area and have well-developed research and organizational skills. Self-discipline is required to work on their own and meet deadlines because it is up to the writers themselves to decide when or how hard to work. Writers should enjoy entertaining an audience through their writing. Finally, writers must be able to withstand rejection and have confidence in their abilities as a writer.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Conceive of and write novels, plays, scripts, poetry and other material for publication or presentation
  • Research similar literature to establish factual content and to obtain other necessary information
  • Organize ideas and facts for a project or outline
  • May choose and develop a theme or subject about which to write
  • Write projects for publication or performances or for products that advertise, inform and entertain
  • Write and rewrite work until editors, producers and writers are satisfied with it
  • Revise after reviewing project, or getting views from an editor
  • Initiate and maintain contact with appropriate publishers or producers
  • Market work and seek out publishers
  • Negotiate fees and royalties (for book-length manuscripts or feature-length scripts for film)
  • Work with graphic artists and illustrators for book covers and other graphics
  • May write articles, speeches, or narrative
  • Use a computer or typewriter to prepare writing product
  • There is no such thing as a typical day for a writer. Since there are so many kinds of writers, each works on their own schedule, including freelance writers who set their own hours. They spend much of their time working alone, researching in libraries and writing at home or in an office. However, they are in regular contact with agents and publishers, and may spend some time interviewing people. The pressure of deadlines, long solitary hours, rejections, unwilling publishers and sporadic work can be stressful. Successful writers spend many hours each day writing.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Writers work for advertising agencies, magazines, newspapers, journals, radio and television stations, greeting card companies, religious organizations, social agencies, private translation and interpreting agencies, governments, large corporations, private consulting firms, publishing firms and other establishments. Many writers are self-employed and work as freelancers. They often publish and market their work themselves, or submit their work to publishers.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Advancement opportunities for writers, particularly freelance writers, are limited and based on the amount of work and effort one is willing to personally put in. However, a writer working consistently for one publication may eventually be promoted to the position of contributing editor or be offered a staff writing position.

Many writers teach English or creative writing at the secondary or postsecondary level. Some may become literary critics, editors or journalists.

  Educational Paths  
There is no required educational path for becoming a writer. Some are naturally talented and begin to create brilliant works at a young age. Nevertheless, many writers have university degrees in English, creative writing or journalism. Technical writers usually require a university degree or college diploma in technical writing and in their area of specialization, such as computer science. Copywriters usually require a university degree or college diploma in English, marketing, advertising or other creative discipline. Talent and ability, as demonstrated by a portfolio of work, are important hiring criteria.

Experience is the best teacher in this field as postsecondary education does not ensure success. University or college training can be useful though, in developing research skills, organizational skills and professional contacts. Writers can also attend writing conferences and workshops or take correspondence courses. Again, the best training a writer can gain is by writing as much as they can, including school assignments. Finding websites that publish writer's works for free and volunteering for school newspapers are great ways to for writers to develop their skills.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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