Writer

author blogger copywriter technical writer travel writer technical author

Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Jobs forecast

This information is supplied by LMI For All, where data is currently available for Scotland.

What's it like?

You would write anything from novels, children’s books or poetry to travel guides and instruction manuals.

You could work for yourself writing novels, short stories, plays and poetry. You may wish to specialise in children’s books, travel or technical writing. You could also write for newspapers, magazines, radio, film or television. Publishing your work via social media, websites and blogs is another option.

Depending on your role, you might:

  • Choose your subject based on your own interests or on a commission given by agents or publishers
  • Come up with themes, ideas and plots
  • Research information using the internet, libraries and interviews
  • Submit your draft to publishers and agents
  • Edit your work after getting feedback
  • Chase publishing opportunities

As a successful published author, you might go to book signings, readings and discussions of your work, or run writing workshops. You could also write reviews of food, literature, film or theatre. 

You might like to become a technical writer, writing instruction manuals for a range of products from computers to kitchen appliances. You could also write online guides to IT services and products.

You may be interested in working as a travel writer, creating guide books, features, hotel reviews or travel novels. Writing travel blogs, articles for websites and social media posts could also be part of your job.

Entry into some writing careers can be very competitive, and many writers - especially novelists and poets - also need another job to support themselves. 

Whatever type of writing you do, it could be useful to develop an understanding of copyright law.

Working conditions

Hours

You would probably work on a self-employed, freelance basis. You could choose your own working hours, although you may still have to meet publishing deadlines.

Environment

You would usually work from home.

UK employment status

Full-time

Part-time

Self employed

People behind the job

Meet real people who’ve done this job – hear their stories and the path they took to get there.

Here are some of the skills needed for this job. Sign in to see how your skills match up.

  • Communicating ideas through writing
  • Working on your own
  • Using computers
  • Researching and investigating
  • Coming up with new ideas
  • Being creative
  • Time management

Build your skills

Your skills can help you choose the career that’s right for you. You can build your skills through work, study or activities you do in your spare time.

To understand more, have a look at what are my skills?

Keep track of your skills in your account and find the jobs, opportunities and courses that suit you.

Click here to view / add your skills

Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Qualifications

There is no set path into this career; some authors study at college or university in subjects such as English literature, Creative writing or other social science subjects.

You can enter Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7) or Higher National Diploma courses (SCQF level 8) with National 4/5 qualifications and one to two Highers or equivalent qualifications.

To enter a degree (SCQF level 9/10) usually requires National 5 qualifications and a minimum of four Highers or a relevant HNC/HND.

Useful subjects

  • English (required by most courses) 
  • Maths
  • Social studies
  • Administration
  • ICT

Helpful to have

It can be useful to attend evening classes in creative writing. The Arvon Foundation provides residential courses in creative writing. 

If you would like to become a published writer there are things you can do to help promote yourself:

  • joining a writers club to get support and feedback on your work
  • entering competitions can raise your profile as a writer
  • blogging or developing your own website are good ways of getting your writing known by others.

You could try sending editors of journals short stories or articles.

You could also follow other writers and publishers and post comments or ask questions. blogging, facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter can be a good way of networking and marketing yourself.

For some technical writing roles some publishers may prefer you have a background in the industry e.g. specialist engineering.