5 Types of Professional Writing You Can Start a Career In
In today’s modern world, everyone is a writer. You complete homework and college assignments, research papers, lab reports or give post-mortem feedback, type up meeting notes, memos, emails, send out greeting cards during special occasions. On social media alone, that’s a lot of typing and hashtagging done right there. If you do any of that, how can you not be a writer?
But everyday writing is very different from professional writing. If you want to make a living being a writer (that means you put food on the table by writing every day), know that there is a great demand for professional writers in almost every field.
In this article we are going to shed some light on some of the most common types of professional writing and how easy (or hard) it is for you to start a writing career in each of these types.
Type 1: Academic Writing
Academic writing is one of the most rapidly emerging types of professional writing. It involves writing scientific ideas and research in a simple, understandable and authentic manner.
A majority of academic writing jobs are online and cater to freelancers, and so freelance job portals are crammed with academic writing jobs.
It is important to know that there is little or no room for creativity in it, and academic writers need to follow some specific styles of writing and layout (the famous APA style, for instance) and use academic rhetoric in their writings.
An academic writer’s responsibilities spreads across tasks like compiling research from textbooks and journals etc., and shaping that research into a complete report. They are also required to compose summaries of different essays, dissertations and researches, which can consequently help the client as basis of their own research.
Apart from writing, academic writers may also be required to edit or proofread already composed academic assignments, researches or dissertations.
Emails, memos and notices are some of the things that come under the umbrella of informal or casual business writing.
However, professional business writing, also known as business communication covers an array of elements including; business plans, business models, project proposals, project reports, brand manifestos, business letters, presentations and marketing campaigns etc.
Every year, hundreds of freelance and on-site employees are hired or contracted for conducting tasks related to business writing and communication, in big and small organizations alike.
Apart from the business communication on organizational level, business writing also caters to the communication at a personal level. For instance, writing resumes, cover letters, experience letters or recommendation letters etc. for the clients.
Creative writing is perhaps the most interesting and diverse type of professional writing. It goes beyond the bounds of all other forms of professional writing by allowing the writer to play with his inner creativity, originality and innovation.
Another distinguishing factor is that while other kinds of writing are objective and are based on facts, creative writing is, most of the time, subjective to the expression of the writer’s inner thoughts, feelings and opinion.
Creative writing is such a vast field that it has its own subbranches:
Writing Literature (fiction and non-fiction)
Journalistic writing is also often considered a part of creative writing, especially when it comes to newspaper articles, features and op-eds.
Even so, to make it in the creative writing field takes a great deal of hard work, a whole lot of spirit, and often, the willingness to take big financial risks. As Harper Lee once said, "I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide."
Technical writing comes into play when a description, instruction or explanation of a certain subject is required. Its basic aim is to simplify complex operations or technicalities for it to be understandable by a common man.
Although, technical writing is basically about creating operation manuals, product catalogs and how-to guides for devices and software, however, it goes beyond that, covering any field or industry where complex ideas, concepts, processes or procedures need to be communicated in simple language.
Most product manufacturers, service industries and software companies have either a department for technical communications or seek a freelance technical writer for this purpose. If you are savvy in a certain field and have a good grip on writing skills then technical writing can be an interesting option for you.
Like creative writing, copy/ content writing is one of the most branched out type of professional writing.
Copy writing or content writing are two overlapping concepts that are similar in terms of their basic theme i.e. promote and educate. The elements that involve copy/content writing are advertisements, marketing and promotional materials, website write-up and blog articles etc.
All the freelance and on-site job portals are flooded with jobs in the field of copy/ content writing. An amalgamation of creativity, language skills and general knowledge can vouch for a thriving career in copy/ content writing.
Take a look at some useful Content Writing Tips and Copywriting Tips and Tricks to get some more useful insight.
For better understanding of the subject, I will rate all the mentioned professional writing types in terms of difficulty level on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being least difficult and 5 being most difficult)
Academic Writing – 3 (moderately difficult)
Business Writing – 3 (moderately difficult)
Creative Writing – 5 (most difficult)
Technical Writing – 3 (moderately difficult)
Content Writing/Copywriting – 4 (quite difficult)
Academic writing, business writing and technical writing have been rated as moderately difficult because they are almost always accompanied by a set pattern or writing style with pretty much fixed rules (like citations, jargons and layout etc.). Therefore it is easier for a beginner to hone these craft by keeping within these bounds.
Also, as there is not much space for creativity and flowery sentences, and anyone with a relatively fair grip on the language can master it.
However, for some, the difficult part is the bounds. One has to work in a specific word limit, should keep the message simple, understandable and effective and never, ever mess with the facts, numbers and statistics.
Creative writing has been rated most difficult owing to the vastness of its canvas. I personally feel much more comfortable if my imagination is allowed to flow in any direction, however for the newbies it often becomes difficult to focus their imagination and use it to produce great results.
Also, for professional creative writing one needs to have a strong grip on the language.
The rating for copy/content writing is on the "quite difficult" level because is it, in my views, an amalgamation of creativity and bounds. For instance, in copywriting, what is explainable in a thousand words must be written in a single sentence or even in a mere few words (taglines and slogans etc.).
Finding Writing Work
Finding work in the field of writing was once considered quite difficult. However, in the era of internet technology, there are hundreds of opportunities online. All you have to know is where to find one that suits you best.
Online freelancing websites like Upwork, Fiverr and Freelancer etc. are full of professional writing projects in all the five types of writing. Such online portals are reliable and can prove a good launchpad for beginners.
As for offline jobs, there are considerably good opportunities too. For example almost all service or manufacturing industries have a separate corporate communication department where technical writers or business writers are required.
Similarly, copy/content writers can find good jobs in advertising agencies, media houses or web development companies.
As for jobs in creative writing, the spectrum of opportunities is as versatile as the field itself. For instance, for journalistic writing jobs, you can look into writing opinion columns or features for newspapers. Likewise, script or screenwriters can seek a job with television or radio channels.
I am personally of the view that in the field of creative writing, beginners should commence their career with apprenticeship, in order to learn the most of the craft.
Writing itself may seem easy. After all, we have been doing it since we were toddlers. Also, no other profession offers more career options than writing. But to actually develop a career in writing is easier said than done.
Every type of writing requires its own talents and skill set, nonetheless, it is up to you to assess which field will suit you most on the basis of your own interest and your specific forte. The point to remember is that no matter which profession you choose, never stop learning.
After all, as Hemingway said, "We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master."