Job type


£15k - £80k

Typical salary

37 – 39

Hours per week

Writers produce creative work, including novels, children's books, poetry and travel and technical writing.

More info

  • Write for a living, either as a novelist, children's author, factual writer or technical writer
  • You'll need excellent writing and creative skills, attention to detail and lots of perseverance
  • Most writers are freelance and either seek work directly from publishers or try to find an agent to represent them

As a writer there are a range of different types of writing you could specialise in. You could write novels, short stories, plays, technical manuals, children's books, or focus on travel or technical writing.


  • Choosing a subject based on personal interest or given by agents or publishers
  • Coming up with themes and ideas or plots
  • Researching information using the internet, libraries and personal interviews
  • Writing and submitting your draft to a publisher, either speculatively or through an agent
  • Revising your work after getting feedback
  • Pursuing publishing opportunities

You could also write features for newspapers, magazines, radio, film or television, or you might write for social media, websites or blogs. You might also write print or online reviews on subjects like food, literature, film or theatre. 

As an established writer, you might also need to attend book signings, readings and discussions of your work, or run writing workshops. 

As a technical writer, you might write instruction manuals, procedural documents and service manuals for a wide range of products. You could also write for the internet, describing services or producing guides on how to use websites. 

As a travel writer your work might include creating guide books, features, hotel reviews or travel novels. Writing travel blogs, articles for websites and updating travel links on Facebook and Twitter might also be part of your job.


Writers are often freelance and either negotiate a set fee for each piece of work or are given royalties based on a percentage of sales. The Writers' Guild negotiates minimum rates for TV, radio, film and some theatre. Payment from a publisher for a book deal would usually be negotiated by you or your literary agent.

You'll usually be able to choose your own working hours, although you may still have to meet publishing deadlines.

You'll need

To be a successful writer you will, of course, need a high level of writing skill and talent. You'll also need to be able to come up with ideas that will sell, have good research skills, and be able to express ideas in a style suited to your intended audience.

It's also important that you have good self-discipline and motivation, perseverance and determination, confidence in your writing, and the ability to accept criticism and remain positive.

To develop these skills, you could get a qualification like a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree in a subject like English, creative writing, journalism or communications, but this is not essential. There are a number of other things you can do to develop your skills, find out more about the world of publishing and promote yourself, like joining a local writers' group, entering writing competitions, and blogging.

You might be able to move into becoming a technical writer for industries like engineering or pharmaceuticals if you have the relevant background and qualifications.

A background in journalism could also help you to get into travel or broadcast writing.

The first step to getting published via a traditional route is often to find an agent. If you're writing a novel, script, poetry or have a proposal for a non-fiction book there are specialist agents out there for each type of writing. Agents are important as they have established relationships with publishers and will pitch your writing for you and negotiate on your behalf. It's important to research agents and their requirements before sending them your work. The 'Writers' and Artists' website has detailed industry advice on being a writer and submitting work for publishing or self-publishing, as well as publishing the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook, which has information on literary agents, publishers, newspapers and magazines.

Increasing numbers of writers begin their careers through non-traditional routes, however. You can self-publish your work via blogs, social media, or specialist self-publishing websites that allow you to upload and format your work into an e-book or printable book. Establishing an audience for your work in this way is a good way of building your profile before approaching agents, or you may choose to continue to self-publish if this route works well for you.

Writing is a very competitive industry, but there are great opportunities for those with the talent and persistence to build an audience for their work.


You could self-publish, in traditional print format, online or through e-books. You might be able to promote your work by entering literary competitions, become a book critic or teach creative writing in colleges.