There’s a very old axiom that says “The Pen is mightier than the sword.” In the current age where communications has taken over the world and opened the doors to a plethora of career opportunities, creative writing is a very plausible and exciting career prospect.
There is something magical about words — they can make us laugh, move us to tears, and evoke anger, hatred and compassion. Words can transport us to places we may never physically visit, and introduce us to people we may never meet. They can spark ideas and movements, stir revolts, and motivate armies — the power of the pen as they say is mightier than the sword.
Yet becoming a writer is not an option for most young people today — except possibly when they think about Chetan Bhagat — an engineer-cum-management graduate, who was a nobody until he discovered the magic of words. It is stories like Five Point Someone by Chetan Bhagat, the Harry Potter series or The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma that have been able to awaken a new interest among young people in reading and the printed word, although most students do not go beyond such token books. Nevertheless many do not see this as a route to a worthwhile career.
With the recent boom in the print media and mass communication, there are increasing opportunities for all kinds of writers, whether it be hard core reporting and news, investigative journalism, feature writing, travel stories, corporate communications and public relations, as well as copywriters, fiction writers and many more.
Creative writing is all writing where the purpose is to express thoughts, feelings and emotions rather than to simply convey information. A creative writer is one, who writes with originality of thought and expression and includes the skills and methodologies needed to write original works of poetry, prose, scripts and stories for a variety of purposes, especially as an occupation or profession.
A good writer has to be a good communicator, as writing is as much about the documentation of facts as it is about expression. Words are the vehicles, which carry the central idea that a creative writer wants to convey. Words are the writers’ tools and it is the craftsmanship with words and the ability to use them to convey ideas whether in the field of literature, journalism or advertising that makes the difference between creative writing and general communications.
There are many genres of creative writing from fiction and nonfiction writing, playwriting, poetry writing, art and film criticism, scriptwriting and screen writing to business communication, technical writing, content writing and news reporting. You can choose to write in a particular genre and specialize in it. The demands and requisites of each style of writing is often different as also the techniques to get ideas across and convey the thoughts and feelings in the writer’s mind. For example, fiction writing requires a fundamental understanding of plot, structure, character, dialogue and description, while journalistic writing focuses on the documentation of facts and requires a different set of techniques of writing and reporting for the electronic media or for print.
After completing a creative writing course, you can work as a content writer, news editor, scriptwriter, freelance journalist or a faculty member in creative workshops conducted by various literary bodies. You can also write for a publishing house, a film company or a television show production.
You can also take up writing in any of the genres, whether it be fiction or non-fiction, playwriting, poetry or scriptwriting. A writer, who is creatively geared, can write different types of fiction, memoirs, poetry, novel, non-fiction, science-fiction, lyrics, play, script, travelogue and romance. You can also write features, interviews, criticism and reviews for newspapers, magazines and journals.
But you have to keep in mind that this field is marked by intense competition. So you may have to write several synopses, prepare drafts, read and re-read the drafts and edit your manuscripts many times before you can present your idea to a publishing house. You may also face countless rejections before a publishing house accepts the work and finalizes a royalty for the author. It’s a huge comfort to know that many of the great writers in the world had to face a similar fate!
Many writers work as freelancers offering their work for several different purposes. In recent years, many have come to depend on the Internet where there are hundreds of job sites devoted to writers or journalists where you could pick up assignments according to your type and style of writing. However, be cautious, and check out a prospective client, or send a sample of your work or even get a small, upfront fee before signing away your creativity. Many new writers, eager to sell their stories, poems, concepts, or plays, fall victim to writing scams whereby unscrupulous “editors” or “publishers” steal their works, infringing upon copyrights.
And if you have a story inside of you and are wondering how and where to start, you could join a publishing house and work at the place where books begin their launch. You can work as an editorial assistant/ copyeditor who checks facts, references, spelling and may even be required to rewrite portions of the manuscript as well as proof-read. This is where you will be able to maintain contacts with an author, help him/her put a book together from start to finish. And who knows, your own book may be the next one you work on!
So if you have the flair and the panache for writing, plenty of imagination, take pen to paper and conjure up a new career for yourself in the world of words. n Feature Desk