You can’t do that with a writing degree!

When people find out I’m studying fiction writing, one of the first questions they ask me is what I’m going to do for a job. If they hazard a guess, they mention teaching. Strangely, no one mentions being an author. All those books at Barnes and Noble must just appear out of thin air.

When I was in professional writing, the ideas about what I would do for a career were slightly more varied. Sometimes they’d ask about teaching AND journalism, and never mind the fact that then I could have been a journalism major. The thing is, a lot of people see writing as a sort of cop out major, as hobby instead of career choice. When I switched from engineering to writing, a friend whispered behind my back that I just wasn’t smart enough to handle a “real” program. And really, I don’t choose to write fiction because it’s something that will make me money. Instead it’s something that I enjoy, something I’m good at. It might make me some money; I hope it does, but that’s not why I do it.

So back to those two career choices I seem to have: I’m not all that qualified to teach, and I have no desire to be a journalist. What’s a girl to do?

Well, as it turns out, there are countless jobs open to writers. I could go into editing or publishing (the two fields I’m looking at most strongly). I could do PR or communications work, which right there gives me ins to pretty much every company in the world. I could work for a nonprofit, or the government. As a personal assistant. As an office assistant. I could do copy writing, technical writing, web writing. I could write plot and dialogue for video games. I could write famous people’s books. I could freelance resumes and cover letters, writing them for people who don’t know how.

Look around you, at the sheer quantity of the written word. For now we’ll ignore other means of visual communication. There are cookbooks, instruction manuals, advertisements, product labels, blog posts, fine print, emails, bills, magazines, coupons… And that’s not even counting all those books (they magically appear, remember?). All of that, by writers.

If you can’t tell, I’m starting my job hunt, and each day I’m astounded by the sheer number of opportunities before me. So you tell me, how has your career used the written word?

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