Q and A

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Journalism vs Creative Writing

Q. I'm finishing a degree in English, and I'm thinking about a career in writing. I guess that means I have to go into journalism? I also like to write fiction. How do I find work as a writer?

A.First, determine what kind of writing you would like to do. If its articles for newspapers, blogs, and magazines, then you're in the field of journalism. If it's stories, screenplays, poetry, and memoirs, you're in the field of creative writing. There are eclectic options within both fields.

Another questions to ask yourself: Do you want to get an advanced degree? An advanced degree is nice to have because it enables you to teach at the college level (as an adjunct professor, most likely) while you're trying to get your writing legs going. If this sounds like something you'd like to do, then for journalism you're looking at an MA. For creative writing, you're looking at an MFA. I know there are several schools that offer full scholarships for the MFA (research the schools' websites and check Poets & Writers for a listing of the top ranked MFA programs). I'm not sure about funding options for the MA, but I'd bet that there are some programs out there that offer scholarships.

If school isn't your desire right now, then you might want to try finding work as a freelance writer. Freelance jobs are a good place to start, as they can help you to build your resume, but you will most likely have to keep your day job.

You may also want to search for a a full-time position as an editorial assistant or a staff writer for a magazine, website, or newspaper. Such positions might be tougher to come by, but landing one might be a good long term goal to aim for as you continue to build your resume. Craig's list often advertises both freelance and full-time jobs, but, as always with Craig's List, use your discretion when searching for jobs.

One of my favorite sites for searching for journalism/media jobs is Media Bistro:

Here are some other sites that you might find useful for locating freelance/full-time writing jobs:

As per creative writing, Poets and Writers is a great resource for searching for jobs, publication opportunities, MFA programs et.al:

One more thing. Write! Write! Write! Even if you don't have readers, even if you don't feel like it. Just do it. It takes about 10,000 hours to master a skill as complex as writing, so any practice you can give yourself is worth it.