So what do you do with a creative writing degree?
Everyone pursuing a degree in creative writing has been asked this at some point. And the question tends to carry more weight the closer you get to graduation. Your friends and family can’t figure it out, and to be honest, sometimes you can’t either.
I’ve been there. A couple years after I graduated with my creative writing degree, I was using my textbooks to hold craft projects in place while I, somewhat desperately, wondered where my life was going.
Around that time, a new marketing practice was gaining traction: content marketing. Disruptive advertising was losing effectiveness. Consumers were doing more research before purchasing. They were looking for brands they could get behind, who had something more to offer them. So brands started telling stories—about themselves, their product or service, their cause, and their customers. And people loved it.
I’ve been to a few marketing conferences, and I’m always excited when I see speakers present on storytelling in marketing, because it means it’s still working and growing as a practice. And it’s funny, because the things they’re teaching in these presentations that marketers are furiously scribbling about in their notebooks are second nature for someone who has been through a creative writing program.
There is a huge opportunity in the marketing world for people who have studied creative writing. Copywriting in the sense of witty taglines and eye-catching headlines is an art form unto itself that creative writing programs are not designed to prepare you for. But long-form content writing and brand storytelling? Nobody is better suited than creative writers. Here’s why.
You know where to begin a story
One of the biggest challenges marketers face is catching and keeping their audience’s attention. It’s important to begin each story with the right hook, and the right flow of information to make people want to learn more. Remember those workshops where your peers told you to cut the first two pages and start in the middle? Brands need you to do that for them.
You know how to write in different styles and voices
Every brand is different and has its own tone of voice. Many times, there will be more than one writer working on content for them, and all of it has to sound like it came from the same person. You’ve spent years honing your skills to be able to make your characters speak in different voices, to narrate your stories in different ways. You’ve spent so much time studying other people’s work that you understand how to mimic voice and tone. Those skills will come in handy.
You’ve written a ton of essays
This one is weird, but trust me, it’ll come in handy. When you’re writing eBooks and whitepapers for a client whose industry you know very little about, you have to research fast and then write something that makes you sound like an expert because your client actually is. The experience is very similar to those weeks when you’d be reading three different novels and have two essays due by the end of the week. But not quite as awful.
You can take constructive criticism
When you’re writing for a client, they’ll have a lot of opinions about how something should sound or how something is worded. Not to mention your internal team. Revisions are a regular part of the work, and sometimes you have to scrap your first idea to accommodate someone else’s. A writer in the world of marketing can’t make the work about themselves. Remember all those times you had to emotionally separate yourself while your story was being workshopped? You’re totally prepared to be a content writer.
You know what makes a good story
Every brand has a story to tell, but most need help figuring out how make their story worth telling. You literally have a degree in telling stories. You know how to find a diamond in the rough and can help a brand find theirs.
Next time you’re wondering what to do with your creative writing degree, consider content marketing. The marketing industry is experiencing a writer drought, and your sharpened skill set in storytelling is needed. Start a blog, follow your local agencies on social media, and start teaching yourself some basic SEO. See where it takes you.