Creative Writing Degree Skills: Definition and Tips

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 28 December 2022

Published 3 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A creative writing degree can give you the skills to a role as a professional writer, content creator or journalist. With these abilities, you can show employers that you can deliver well-written work that appeals to the interests of readers or consumers. Exploring the different creative writing skills can help you learn how they can be used in the work environment and prepare you for achieving your career goals. In this article, we discuss creative writing degree skills, share tips you can use to improve your ability to write creatively and list key careers that use these skills regularly.

What are creative writing degree skills?

Creative writing degree skills are abilities you develop through completing a creative writing educational program. These abilities equip you with the necessary knowledge and experience to work as an independent writer, regardless of whether you aspire to work at a marketing agency, become a journalist or work as a self-employed freelance writer. As a creative writing graduate, you can easily produce written content that engages various audiences. You could also have the ability to develop and thoroughly analyse a plot and describe fictional characters in a way that intrigues and engages readers. Here are examples of skills of a creative writing graduate:

Storytelling

Through improving your storytelling, you learn how to bring language to life and create unique reading experiences for audiences. Whether you're writing a short story or a novel, you can use different narratives to demonstrate your storytelling abilities. Typically, a creative writing degree can teach you how to use some of the most popular narrative types, including:

  • Linear narrative: This narrative allows you to present events and the plot of your story in chronological order. This type of narrative is great when you want to immerse your readers in the daily life of your protagonists.

  • Non-linear narrative: A non-linear narrative allows you to describe events with no specific order using stylistic and literary devices, such as flashbacks or memories. This narrative can be highly effective when you want to emphasise a character's emotions or make connections between events that happened over an extended period.

  • Quest narrative: In a quest narrative, which is one of the oldest types of narrative, the protagonist takes readers on a quest. To use this narrative, it's essential that you introduce the quester, describe their goal or destination, explore the challenges that the quester would face and explain why they want to get there.

  • Viewpoint narrative: In a viewpoint narrative, you express subjective opinions and views of the protagonist, other characters in the story or your own. This gives the readers a chance to understand the narrator's view, assumptions or possible bias.

Research

When you have strong research skills, you can easily investigate plot ideas and continuously improve your creative writing abilities. Researching before you write can help you make your content feel more realistic to your desired audience. It also helps you maintain historical or situational accuracy, for example, when it comes to what your characters are wearing. A creative writing educational program is likely to teach you how to engage in effective research, analyse your findings and prioritise information that you want to include in the story.

Editing

When you learn to edit written content, you gain the ability to improve the overall quality of your work. Editing allows you to identify and correct any spelling and grammar mistakes or modify vocabulary to ensure your audience can easily understand what you're trying to convey in a story. Editing is also a transferable skill, which means that you can use it in many other professions, not only as a writer. Continuously improving your editing abilities helps you expand your skill set and increase chances of impressing a hiring manager.

Related: What Do Writers and Editors Do? (With Salaries and Skills)

How to improve your creative writing skills

As a creative writing graduate, you're likely to have a strong skill set that allows you to work independently and develop engaging written content. In addition to obtaining a university degree or completing an educational creative writing program, there are some things you can do to improve your skills, such as:

1. Establish a writing routine

Many creative writers work from home, which means they're often in charge of their daily schedule. To make sure they reach their daily, weekly or monthly writing goals, they usually establish their own writing routines that allow them to stay on track. Following a routine of this type requires self-discipline, but it allows them to make writing a habit. A significant benefit of this is that it can also help writers maintain a healthy work-life balance, as finishing writing at the same time each day gives them enough time to pursue their other passions or spend time with family.

Related: Self-Discipline: Definition and Tips For Development

2. Keep practising

Although some people have a natural talent for writing, creative writing is a skill that anyone can learn, as long as they dedicate enough time and effort to do so. If you want to improve your creative writing abilities, it's crucial that you keep practising until you feel comfortable using a certain narrative style or until you notice that your skills have improved. Any mistakes you make in your work can be seen as opportunities to learn more about yourself, which can also help you become a better writer.

3. Read more

Reading books, essays, articles and even poetry or newspapers can expand your imagination and help you get inspiration from other talented writers. Choosing new formats and styles is great for improving your writing skills, as it allows you to discover new words, metaphors or even plot ideas. To create a reading plan that allows you to develop stronger creative writing abilities, consider making a list of various literary genres and focus on one specific genre each day or week.

Related: 4 Common Writing Styles: When and How to Use Them

4. Be open to critique

Presenting your work to other people is an important element of your growth as a writer. When you decide to share your written content with others, it's important that you ask them for feedback, as the opinions they have may help you view your story or characters from a different perspective. As a part of this, you can also send your stories to professional literary critics and reviewers, who can assess and rate them more objectively.

Related: Writing Skills In the Workplace and How to Improve Yours

5. Keep track of your progress

Developing strong creative writing skills is a long-term and continuous process. To be more self-aware as you learn new things along the way, make sure to keep track of your progress. For example, you can do this by regularly looking back at the pieces you wrote in the past. This way, you can compare your current abilities to what you knew a few months or years ago, which is one of the most effective ways to see how far you've come as a writer.

Related: How to Write an Action Plan to Help Achieve Your Goals

Careers that use creative writing skills daily

Obtaining a creative writing degree can help you succeed in many fields and professions. Creative writing is also a great skill to have when you aspire to become self-employed or run your own business one day, as it teaches you how to tell stories and convince people to read them. Here are some example careers to consider if you're working on your creative writing:

1. Content writer

National average salary: $65,867 per year

Primary duties: Content writers write clear and concise marketing copy to promote products, organisations or initiatives. On a day-to-day basis, they research industry-related topics, prepare content drafts, write copy and edit it before submitting their work to editors. Many content writers work for marketing and communications agencies, but it's also possible for them to find full-time employment helping a specific brand develop and maintain their marketing style and voice.

Related: How to Become a Content Writer (With Salary and Tips)

2. Journalist

National average salary: $66,462 per year

Primary duties: Journalists use their creative writing skills to develop informative and interesting stories, articles, columns and other written pieces that usually appear in magazines and newspapers. There are many specialisations that journalists can pursue, for example, they can focus on a specific interest of theirs, such as politics, entertainment or health and fitness. Because they often earn a fixed sum for each piece of content they write, they often split their time between writing, interviewing people and developing new ideas to submit to chief editors.

Related: How to Become a Journalist

3. Public relations (PR) and communications specialist

National average salary: $89,130 per year

Primary duties: PR and communications specialists handle information output for their employer or clients. This includes creating promotional materials for product launches, writing press releases, building mailing lists and maintaining relationships with media representatives on behalf of brands and organisations. They also help their clients process media requests and schedule interviews and other public appearances.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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