Creative writing majors can explore a number of specialties and career options, including technical writing; copywriting for marketing teams, film, or television scripting; and journalism roles. Dickinson College has an extensive list of creative writing career options after graduation. If you are thinking about becoming a freelance writer, it is important to start building your professional network early. Business seminars and finance basics can come in handy as you manage your own taxes and revenue streams. Creative writers can also find long-term employment opportunities with web companies, publications, and marketing firms.
Student and Professional Organizations
Honors societies provide creative writers with unique funding, publication, and networking opportunities. Since there are several careers that use creative writing, novelists, journalists, screenwriters, and other authors will find a diverse range of professional societies dedicated to skill enrichment and networking. Writers who work in film and television fields have access to unions that can help them negotiate contracts and secure benefits.
- Lambda lota Tau – This honors society celebrates literary scholarship and achievement by providing scholarships and internship opportunities for college students involved in creative writing or literature studies. Lambda Iota Tau boasts an enormous membership of over 40,000, and it has over 50 active chapters across the United States. Once you become a member of this honors society, you can submit your writing for publication in the Lambda Iota Tau LIT Journal.
- Association of Writers and Writing Programs – The AWP is a professional and academic writing society that cultivates networking, resource sharing, and continued education amongst 50,000 members. The AWP conferences attract a high volume of celebrity and novice writers annually. Writers can also compete for grants by submitting creative works to the AWP Award Series, the Intro Journals Project, and four other award programs.
- American Society of Journalists and Authors – Creative nonfiction writers and journalists can network with other industry professionals and find new clients within the ASJA. This society was founded in 1948 to provide a space to share industry standards and knowledge. Members can list their biography and credentials in the public ASJA directory, for businesses and publications seeking writing assistance.
- International Women’s Writing Guild – This organization was formed in 1976, tracing its roots back to women’s rights movements, the New Age movement, and the Human Potential movement. Guild members have published over 4,000 fiction and nonfiction books on a vast array of topics. The IWWG hosts seasonal writing conferences in cities across the United States.
- Military Writers Society of America – This professional organization strives to be a support system for military personnel, loved ones, and researchers who write about the American military experience. The MWSA hosts an annual conference where members are honored for noteworthy works of writing. Members can also contribute columns, articles, and poetry to the MWSA Dispatch.
- Writers Guild of America East and West – There are two separate unions known as the Writers Guild of America that serve television and film writers in Eastern and Western U.S. States. Both organizations provide contract negotiation assistance and advocate for workers’ rights in the motion picture and television industries. Make sure to check regional coverage so that you can earn the union benefits specific to your area.
Open Creative Writing Courseware
Hone your craft by enrolling in one of many free creative writing courses available online. These open courses are meant for personal enrichment, and they do not provide participants with college credits. Students can explore course materials and lectures led by MIT, Mt. San Jacinto College, and the University of Iowa.
- Writing and Experience: Exploreing Self in Society – This course is available through MIT’s OpenCourseWare program. This class is led by Dr. Andrea Walsh, who teaches within the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies. Students will keep a detailed journal of their reactions to essays and creative fiction readings by authors like Amy Tan and Maya Angelou.
- Creative Writing: A Master Class – This course is hosted on iTunes University for access via iOS devices, Macs, and PCs. This Academy of Achievement course is heavy with media, with over 43 audio and video clips of master authors relating their experiences on topics such as revisions, sourcing fiction, and narrative points of view.
- Crafting an Effective Writer: Tools of the Trade – This introductory writing class, hosted by Coursera, can help writers hone their proofreading skills, build a solid thesis or subject sentence, and understand the elements of clear sentence structures. The course takes five weeks to complete, and comes with English and Chinese subtitles. The instructors are Larry Barkley, Ted Blake, and Lorrie Ross of Mt. San Jacinto College.
- Creative Writing by the Open University – This is an advanced creative writing course hosted on Apple’s iTunes University platform. The audio from this course features 34 soundclips of world-renowned authors providing advice to creative fiction writers, walking you through the start and end of a project.
- Every Atom: Wait Whitman’s Song of Myself – This course is the first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) hosted by the University of Iowa. Instructors Christopher Merrill and Ed Folsom will walk readers through the epic poem, Song of Myself, pointing out key cultural and political moments throughout the text, while analyzing the work’s impact on historical and current societies. Three teaching assistants will be available online for additional student support.
Open Access Creative Writing Journals
Creative writing journals that are 100% open access can be somewhat difficult to find, since some individual authors do not want their literary work to be accessible for free to online audiences. Many literary journals work around this by providing both free and exclusive paid content. Some authors featured in these literary journals have gone on to receive critical acclaim for their future work.
- Brevity – The first issue of this creative nonfiction open-access journal appeared in Fall 1997, featuring work by Sue Beller and Paul Kellerman. New issues are released twice a year. Featured authors have gone on to receive prestigious awards such as Pushcart prizes and two Pulitzer Prize finalist rankings. Brevity accepts short creative nonfiction pieces that run at 750 words or less.
- The Threepenny Review – Only select creative pieces are available for open access viewing on the Berkeley-based Threepenny Review. The first issue appeared in 1980, and new issues are published quarterly. This literary magazine has received numerous distinctions, featured in an O. Henry Prize Stories anthology.
- TriQuarterly – – This print and web-based literary publication accepts creative nonfiction, short drama, poetry, and multimedia works from new and seasoned writers. The editorial staff consists of graduate students and faculty from the Creative Writing department at Northwestern University.
- International Journal of Undergradutate Research an Creative Activities – This is a collaborative, open-access journal run by faculty at Central Washington University and Pacific University. Undergraduate students from international schools can showcase their creative writing in this journal, so long as it meets the criteria of “senior thesis quality.”
Books on Creative Writing
There are many professional writers who have succeeded within their fields without formal creative writing training. The following books will give you a sampling of writer wisdom that isn’t usually taught within the classroom. Some of these guides will range between the psychological and philosophical considerations of creative writing, while others delve into the business and marketing aspects of promoting your work.
- On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft – Stephen King has burned himself into the collective consciousness as a master of horror and creative nonfiction. This book recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary, providing writers with practical tips and eye-opening experiences culled directly from King’s fascinating life.
- Writing Down the Bones – Writing and spirituality coach Natalie Goldberg combines Zen philosophy with writing instruction in her pivotal work, Writing Down the Bones. Many prolific authors have attributed their success to Goldberg’s guidance and refreshing voice. This self-help and meditation guide can help you get out of a writer’s block rut and inspire you to create fresh, new work.
- Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life – Anne Lamott is a highly-regarded memoirist and fiction author, who shares her wisdom through a book fraught with self-deprecating humor and wit. She will inspire you to take your writing to new heights with realistic goals, pragmatic steps, and a fresh, comedic perspective.
- The Self-Publishing Manual: How to Write, Print, and Sell Your Own Book – Dan Poynter has written the definitive guide on self-publishing in a world of mobile e-readers, tablets, and smartphones. He instructs writers through the turbulent waters of self-publishing, copyright, and printing avenues.
- The Artist’s Way – Get acquainted with your creative process by checking out Julia Cameron’s revolutionary book. If you are the type of writer that needs timeframes and structures, Cameron’s twelve-week program can get you on the right track with your next writing project.
Online Creative Writing Magazines
The digital era has created ample opportunities for us to share flash fiction and long form work. The following electronic magazines showcase up and coming authors and journalists, along with seasoned professionals. The following list is just a small selection of the diverse niche writing magazines available online.
- McSweeney’s Internet Tendency – This digital publication was created by McSweeney’s Publishing, which was founded by the quirky and endlessly busy novelist Dave Eggers. The Internet Tendency publishes creative writing submissions that do not exceed 1,500 words. The editorial staff updates this magazine with a new creative piece each day.
- The Rumpus – This creative lit and art magazine was created by author Stephen Elliott to showcase book reviews, emerging comic artists, creative nonfiction, film commentary, author interviews, and poetry. The web design for this online magazine is refreshingly minimalistic, with the entire browser window used to display creative work.
- The Awl – This New-York based entertainment and creative arts magazine is dedicated to breaking out of the repetitive, short-form mold of web publications. This magazine features cultural commentary, film review, scientific research musings, and the ever-amusing “Weather Reviews” column.
- 3:AM Magazine –This online magazine features a vast array of creative writing formats, including flash fiction, long form fiction, critical essays, poetry, and nonfiction. If you’re seeking transgressive inspiration, chances are you’ll find it within 3:AM‘s collection.
Creative Writing Blogs
What better way to connect with other creative writers than through a blog? Take a look at what it’s like to work as an editors for a publication or as a journalist in a busy newsroom. These blogs explore writing from many professional perspectives, examining the careful balance of creativity, business savvy, and discipline required by this field of work and study.
- The Lesser Blog – This is the personal blog of Wendy Lesser, the founding editor of The Threepenny Review. She periodically posts her observations about the online literary community, musings on current literature, and commentary on literary news. This blog offers students and those working in creative professions insight into the life of an active journal editor.
- The Murverse Annex – Author Mur Lafferty is known within writers’ circles as the creator of the “I Should Be Writing” podcasts, which chronicles Lafferty’s own struggles with the craft of writing, along with her subsequent author interviews, publishing experiences, and convention appearances. Mur chronicles her fiction writing and publishing journey with refreshing honesty and clarity.
- Moody Writing – This blog posts a string of “how-to” style articles for authors to mull over as they build worlds and create new characters. Fans can also check in on blogger Mooderino’s book reviews and ratings, which are posted on their very active Goodreads account.
- The Write Practice – Are you having trouble getting over the hurdle of just sitting down to write? This blog features creative prompts that will get you excited about your next projects and push you away from writer’s block. The Write Practice offers tips on creative writing topics such as productivity techniques, characterization, short story formats, and storyboarding.
Who to Follow on Twitter
Connect with your childhood literary heroes, prominent journalists, and the hottest authors on the shelves via Twitter. Many of these individuals and organizations keep an eye to current creative writing news, so they can be an excellent source for inspiration and knowledge.
- @MargaretAtwood – Margaret Atwood is frequently mentioned on lists of well-known authors with a Twitter presence. She is a beloved figure within the Young Adult fiction community for her groundbreaking novels like The Handmaid’s Tale, Oryx and Crake, and The Year of the Flood. She has received over 50 literary awards, with the most note-worthy being a Guggenheim fellowship, the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Science Fiction, and The Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She has been conferred with 19 honorary degrees from colleges worldwide. Margaret Atwood’s Twitter presence is rife with daily life musings, local news clippings, environmental awareness links, and creative fiction highlights.
- @LitReactor – This writers’ forum and workshop community grew from the Chuck Palahniuk forums of the early 2000s. After a strong community of fiction authors grew, LitReactor was launched in 2011, providing upcoming authors with a home base to earn peer-review advice from other aspiring writers. LitReactor’s blog, Twitter feed, and podcasts serve aspiring writers by demystifying writing styles and publications processes. Keep an eye out on the LitReactor Twitter page for commentary on new literary works, inspirational quotes, and news about their latest workshop offerings.
- @ChuckPalahniuk – Chuck Palahniuk hit the ground running with his breakthrough debut novel, Fight Club, which was adapted as a feature film with Brad Pitt in 1999. Palahniuk’s later works have gone on to the New York Times’ Bestseller lists, and Palahniuk has received awards from the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association for his transgressive fiction. Fans of his work can get breaking news about his upcoming articles and novels by following his official Twitter feed.
- @RonCharles – Ron Charles is a literary critic and editor at the Washington Post. Students and creative writing professionals can explore Charles’ tweets to get a feel for literary and business trends in publishing and book promotions.
- @NeilGaiman – Neil Gaiman has taken a very non-traditional and extremely individualistic route to critical acclaim. He began as a UK-based journalist that covered bands like Duran Duran, and then moved on to writing comic book scripts. His creation of The Sandman graphic novel series catapulted his career as a novelist and comic industry mainstay. Gaiman is extremely active on a number of social media platforms, including Twitter, Tumblr, and his own personal blog.