What Profession – Pros and Cons of Writing Professions

As school is nearing, I have been feeling a whirlwind of different emotions – excitement, apprehension, doubt, pride, importance, fear – just to name a few.

What has helped me no respond directly to the more negative emotions is to keep my focus, get my eye on the prize. Sometimes the prize isn’t enough for me. Simply (Simply – ha!) walking to the podium and receiving my diploma isn’t enough for me. I need to be able to know what my next steps are. Where will this diploma take me? Where will the journey to get the diploma take me?

Perhaps it is now time to narrow my focus – know what my goals are after graduation. Of course, the last of my schooling is some 5 years away – but I’ll be completing my Associate’s in Arts and Science in a year – which is not very long at all, before having to transfer to a proper university – which is where? Originally thought to be Western Washington University, I’ve been considering other schools in the UK, or anywhere abroad. Something to make my resume seem more impressive, and something to fill that dread of being rooted and trapped (another emotion I experience quite frequently, the one main emotion that has kept me from returning to school for so long).

If I can figure out what my end goal is within the next six months, then I can narrow my focus as to what school to attend after I get my AAS.

Here’s my list of professions to consider:

  • Journalist
  • Editor
  • Freelance writer
  • English Professor
  • English Teacher Abroad

There are other things that pop up, and I consider them for a moment, but so far these have been the professions that have stuck with me, for the most part. So – let’s examine them!

Journalism 
The fact that I have found myself interested in this is very surprising. All through to high school, I was told I should be a journalist if I wanted to be a writer, and I have always rebelled. Why would I want to report what’s going on around me when I can create different realities and bind them in my own book? What’s more, I’ve never liked being told how to format my writing, and journalism seemed to be one of those professions that forces a writer to write in a specific manner.

So what’s changed about it?

Writing for high school and writing in the real world are different. Of course there’s rules – or like the Pirate’s Code, more guidelines – but if the content and writing is good, you don’t have to stick to them. I learned this by reading essays from Pico Iyer, articles in magazines, and any other generic publications. The strict rules and outlines we were taught are less rigid and more twirly than previously ingrained.

Pros:

  • It’s exciting! Each day brings a new opportunity to find something out that no one else knows, and there’s the rush of being the first person to report it.
  • Getting paid to write. Nuff Sed.
  • You get a little more respect from society when you say “I’m a Journalist” vs “I’m a writer”.
  • As Jane Willis writers in her blog post, Trust Me, I’m a Journalist, on the pro’s and cons of job:
    “Being invited to cover various events such as theatre performances and restaurant meal reviews for FREE!”
  • You don’t necessarily need to go to school to be a journalist. According to an article on About.com –
    “Journalists are increasingly being asked not just to be good reporters and writers, but to also have specialized knowledge in a particular field. So by getting a journalism degree you may limiting your opportunity to do that, unless you plan on going to grad school.”

Cons:

  • Journalists are not known for getting paid well. The average journalist earns $45,000 a year, according to Indeed.com, last updated March 28, 2014. Though, Women.com reports the average journalist to earn a salary of $36,000 per year in their article The Disadvantages of Being a Journalist
  • Stressful. Meeting deadlines, finding something of worth to write about equates to furrowed brows.
  • Keeping up with the trends – having to know what is happening at any moment.
  • Work hours are all over the place. Depending on what story you’re following, when the deadline is and so on – keeps a person working during the night, holidays, and weekends.
  • The public will be quick to discredit your report if not written well enough.

Editor
I found an intrigue in this profession after I went to the workshop presented by an editor at Booktrope, a publishing company based out of Seattle, which I wrote about last week in my post Is Your Writing Ready? After listening to her speak, I was quite inspired to be involved in what she does for a living – getting to read all the time, and getting to help writers get their work out. What’s more, fully being wrapped up in a tight bundle of linguistic sculpting.

Pros:

  • You get to read all. The. Time. Paid to do it, even!
  • You run the show

Cons:

  • It’s not just being an editor, it’s being an agent as while. You unite authors and illustrators, sales and marketing – and you have to be the go-between of all of them. This might mean soothing ruffled feathers and being the adult on the playground.
  • Underpaid. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states the average hourly income of an editor is $25.90  (the low end being less than $15/hr and the highest end making up to $50/hr). Newspaper, and Periodical Book editors make up the majority of the industry and earn on average $30/hr, or $62k annually.
  • Overworked
  • A lot of general paperwork – and not the fun kind. according to a fellow blogger (Editorial Anonymous) their post, So You Want to Be an Editor?:
    “The amount of time we spend reading and editing is absolutely dwarfed by the time we spend filling in forms, reporting and sharing information, attending meetings, juggling p&ls, building marketing material, etc.”

Freelance Writer 
Being a freelance writer is essentially what I would like to do. I want to be able to write what I want, when I want, and of course get paid for it. This is the fanciful dream of all writers, isn’t it? Of course, it doesn’t work that way, and I’ve already attempted to be a freelance writer in the past, though perhaps without as much heart that needs to be put into the task.

A friend of mine once lent me a library book (I don’t use libraries, I end up owing them several times more than what the book’s worth) entitled How to earn a Six Figure Income with Freelance Writing – or something along those lines. I’ve since looked for the book and haven’t been able to find it. But I thumbed through it and read parts of it, which really inspired me to write all that I can, get it out there and start earning, even if it is a few dollars per piece.

Pros

  • You can write whatever you want, whenever you want – mostly.
  • You make your own schedule
  • You are the one in control.

Cons

  • It’s a lot of work, and rarely the best of pay outs. Personally, I have been putting my writing on Hubpages for years, and have yet to make more than a couple dollars a  month – that is including the height of my writing on that site, when I was putting out a couple articles a day.
  • Your writing has to be varied, covering a great many topics to get picked up.
  • Submitting pieces is half the work. Finding places wanting one-off articles is tedious.
  • It’s difficult to juggle freelance writing and a job – and unless you have a year’s worth of income saved up, you will need to keep your day job.
  • It’s an extremely slow process.

English Professor
I have to specify professor, because I don’t want to be an English Teacher. The whole purpose of me considering this as an option is because I want to ensure that I am constantly submerged in the written world. I want to make sure that I am constantly challenged to keep reading, expand my interests, and find new, creative ways of writing myself. I also know that I can’t rely on myself to keep things interesting. Students are a great way of keeping the spark alive – what’s more, students that want to study English will be far more inspiring. Thus, I would want to teach at a college level, opposed to high school and younger.

Pros

  • I would constantly be doing as I mentioned above – surrounding myself in literary arts.
  • The chance to further inspire students.
  • A respected profession.
  • The world will always need teachers.
  • Flexible work schedules.
  • Job security not just in knowing there will always be teachers needed, but the opportunity for tenure as well.

Cons

  • High competition for tenure at college level.
  • A professor at college level can require 8-12 years of higher education
  • Doctorate degree is usually required

Overseas English Teacher
I have always had the strong desire to travel. I can’t not do it. I have traveled back and forth across the Atlantic since I was 18 months old, and have no desire to stop experiencing the world as an adult. What better way than to have a job which allows me to live and work and experience in other countries?

Pros

  • Travel. That’s really the name of the game in this profession.
  • Scott Hipsher writes on the matter in his blog that there is no special training required.
  • It’s extremely easy to get a job doing so.
  • Financial experience for travelers.
  • Great work experience
  • Low Stress

Cons

  • Low pay, even lower than in the US.
  • You’re dedicated to that location for the full school year.
  • Less opportunity for career growth in that area.
  • Not as impressive on a resume as one would think. It isn’t the most transferable of skills when going into the big Western world.

This is by far not the most complete pros and cons list, however, it’s a start to get me considering my options a bit more seriously. I think the travel english teacher is a good fall-back, something I could get into when my head is about to explode from being in school for so long. Essentially, one day I’d like to be a travel writer, so teaching english abroad might be a good route for me, however not if I ever plan on earning a decent living.

What would you think would best suite your needs?

Some helpful articles on researching the matter:
Pros and Cons of Being a Journalist
Disadvantages of Being a Journalist 
Should You Get a Journalism Degree?
So You Want To Be An Editor?
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Book Editor Career Job Description
Pros and Cons of Teaching English
English Literature Teacher Career Overview
The Pros and Cons of Teaching English Overseas
The Pros and Cons of Teaching English
Third Year Abroad: The Pros and Cons of Teaching English

 

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