Gilmore Girls’ Rory Gilmore has long set the standard for career mapping as someone who loved to write. As early as high school, she knew she wanted to be a journalist. She wanted to document the world around her, make a difference with her words and, most importantly, see and do “something.” She worked for the newspaper at every school she attended and often compared her professional aspirations to those of CNN chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour.
But that’s not how things worked out for Rory. In the end, she was offered a job as a high-school teacher and later decided she was better suited to be a novelist. Her fictional story is telling of a more realistic concern: is journalism your only career option if you love to write? We spoke with professionals who share this love of writing and whose careers, while not in journalism, still allow them to pursue their passion. Here are six other career paths to consider if you love writing.
1. Content Marketing
People who pursue a career in content marketing spend their time creating branded content like blogs, social media posts and even video series.
Marketing executive at Graduate Recruitment Bureau, Lizzi Hart, says that she had no idea what content marketing was as a journalism student but was intrigued by a job opening titled, “Write for The Guardian and more.” Her main role is now link building and search engine optimization (SEO), which is basically getting external pages to link to the product or service she’s promoting. “It’s not the typical news pieces I thought I would be writing as a journalist,” she says, yet her work has appeared in The Independent, Business Insider and even Cosmopolitan!
Like Hart, Sarah Linney, content manager for real-estate start-up Triplemint, studied and worked in journalism before landing her job as content manager for a real estate company based in New York. Previously, she says, “I would just churn out copy day in, day out, which didn’t leave much room for autonomy and creativity.” Now, she produces tons of interesting multimedia content about life in the city.
A career in content marketing will consistently challenge you to stay creative and innovative in your work because every project is different!
This might come as a shock but psychologists spend quite a bit of their time writing about mental health and wellness. In fact, you’ve probably come across a number of online articles about human behaviors, mental processes and helpful methods for coping with life in general that were written by psychologists. Dr. Jude Miller Burke, author of The Adversity Advantage: Turn Your Childhood Hardship into Career Success, has been a practicing psychologist for more than 25 years. She writes every day, sharing her expertise in her books, articles and speeches. “I am determined and passionate to communicate the path of resilience to overcome obstacles and move on to greater happiness in life,” she says. Writing allows psychologists to reach and help more people.
3. Non-Profit Grant Writing
What could be better than using your writing skills to help others? Grant writing is an invaluable skill that requires you to be both persuasive and concise in your work. Grant writers work primarily for businesses, educational institutions and, of course, nonprofits that benefit from external financial aid. Your work can make life-saving research a reality or set into action grassroots campaigns for important policy changes.
Christina Disbrow works as the founder of and grant writer for All Write, All Write, All Write, a boutique firm that strives to provide administrative and fundraising support to small nonprofits. “I’ve always loved to write and help people. Nonprofit grant writing has allowed me to combine both of these passions into a career,” she says. Grant writers must be able to explain how their cause will benefit from the grant and why it deserves to be considered. This process requires vision, persuasiveness, creativity, motivation and attention to detail. It’s a lot like putting together a compelling narrative!
Writing for film or television might seem like a long shot, but if you’ve always had a passion for creative writing, it might be worth looking into. Screenwriters have a knack for storytelling; they know how to turn action into words with ease and precision. As a screenwriter, you can write scripts for feature films, television shows, commercials and even video games. It’s not just about creating interesting and naturalistic dialogue; some scenes may have no dialogue at all. At its core, screenwriting is more about documenting a visual story in great, descriptive detail. Creating interesting characters, developing backstories that span years, writing tear-jerking monologues—that’s what screenwriting is about. This is no easy career path but it is certainly rewarding.
Daphne Mallory and her daughter Sabya Clarke work together as screenwriters. Mallory says she has always been committed to telling stories and has written for The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine and others in the past but her true joy comes from writing science-fiction film and TV scripts. Mallory says that she and Clarke, who studies filmmaking at the California College of the Arts, have written three television pilots, several short films and even an original feature film.
You might think that your professors have it easy only showing up to classes a few times a week but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Professors spend the majority of their time working on their research and trying to get their work published. In fact, to get tenure, professors are required to have a minimum number of scholarly books and articles already published.
Dr. Luz Claudio, author of How To Write and Publish a Scientific Paper: The Step-by-Step Guide and tenured professor of environmental medicine and public health, says, “Most of [my] time is spent writing scientific papers for publication in peer-reviewed journals and writing grant proposals to support [my] projects.” In fact, she recently tracked her work activities and found that almost 70 percent of her time is spent writing.
Another common misconception is that writing for academia is boring or restrictive, but it’s actually far more liberating than you might think. You can pursue a career in academia in almost any specialization: philosophy, Italian literature, neuroscience, media studies and so much more.
6. Public Relations
Public relations is a lot like advertising. You’re tasked with selling a favorable image of your client or brand and much of your work revolves around getting them featured by the appropriate media outlets. That’s why public relations specialists must be excellent writers. Suki Mulberg Altamirano, founder and CEO of Lexington Public Relations, says, “Good writing is essential to successful media relations. You’re constantly leveraging this skill from writing pitches to creating client dialogue.”
PR specialists working at an agency often write and pitch multiple press releases in one day! And because they work closely with the press, they run on tight deadlines. When a news outlet requests a client biography or a descriptive write-up about a product you’ve pitched them, you’ll need to get back to them as soon as possible before they move on to the next thing to meet their own deadlines. If you can be persuasive in your writing and quick on your feet, this is the job for you.
The best thing about a passion or talent for writing is the versatility it offers you professionally and leisurely. Many professional writers maintain their own personal writing projects, like a blog or journal, just for fun. You can write from almost anywhere and life is never short of inspiration. If you love to write, don’t limit yourself to one or two over-saturated career options. The more you write, the more you’ll find that you develop your own voice and niche. Figuring out just where you belong in the writing world will follow.