On the Job
Writers use words to express thoughts and interpret information.
The English novelist Edward George Bulwer Litton penned the famous saying, "The pen is mightier than the sword." People often quote this line today to point out the power of words. In fact, we often describe writers as those who "wield" pens, rather than weapons. This doesn't mean that writers use words for violent purposes. However, it points to the lasting power of words to change people's thoughts. Words can influence people's opinions and make them feel a range of emotions, from happy to sad and the entire range in between.There are many different types of writers. Caption writers translate dialogue from another language into English or vice versa. Copywriters create ads, sales letters, speeches, and other items meant to persuade people to buy products. Those who write short stories, novels, articles, essays, and a variety of other items are called creative writers.
Writers can be divided into two general groups. One group works for employers or clients and writes items about specific topics for them. Another group writes about what interests them and hopes to find buyers for their work. Regardless of who they work for, writers follow the same basic steps to produce a written product. Writers begin by gathering information about their topics. They may read newspapers, books, diaries, or interview people to learn more. Writers organize the information they gather and make sense of it. For some articles, writers interpret the meaning of complex events or information. They must express information in a manner that is clear and understandable by people who are not experts in that area. Writers of books, short stories, and other creative items also gather information. In addition, they develop plot, character, the environment, and other aspects of the story.
Writers revise their work so that the information makes sense and is written clearly. They often have other writers read their work and give them feedback. Many writers have editors read and comment on their work. Writers revise their work until clients are happy with the product.
Most people who write are not called writers. Many people write in addition to doing other job tasks.
The following list of occupational tasks is specific to this career.
- Write about topics of their own interest or of interest to clients.
- Conduct research to learn more about topics. Interview people or read books, newspapers, and other information sources.
- Organize ideas and facts.
- Revise text so it is clear and presented in a logical order.
- Write about complex information in a way that the general public can understand.
- Get feedback on text from clients, editors, and other writers. May make presentations in meetings.
- May write articles, speeches, lyrics, or narrative.
- For fiction writers, develop themes, plots, characterizations, and setting.
- May write products that advertise, inform, or entertain.
- Plan projects by outlining and storyboarding.
- Prepare work in the appropriate format before sending it to publishers and editors.
- Use computers or typewriters.
People in this career perform the following list of tasks, but the tasks are common to many occupations.
- Think creatively.
- Get information needed to do the job.
- Use computers.
- Establish and maintain relationships.
- Communicate with people from outside the organization.
- Organize, plan, and prioritize work.
- Convince other to buy goods or change their minds or actions.
- Make decisions and solve problems.
- Explain the meaning of information to others.
- Communicate with supervisors, peers, or subordinates.
- Update and use job-related knowledge.
- Judge the value of objects, services, or people.
- Document and record information.
- Perform administrative tasks.
- Develop goals and strategies.
- Process information.
- Identify objects, actions, and events.
- Analyze data or information.
- Perform or work with the public.
In a typical work setting, people in this career:
- Talk to others by telephone, e-mail, and in person. They also write letters and memos, but less frequently.
- Have a medium level of social contact. They interview people and talk to clients, but also work alone while writing. Creative writers who are self-employed have a much lower level of contact.
- Are somewhat responsible for the work done by others, especially other copy writers.
- May occasionally be placed in conflict situations. This is especially true for copy writers.
- Always work indoors.
- Must fully complete and be exact in their work. Errors in their text could confuse readers.
- Are able to make decisions independently, without input from others.
- Repeat the same physical activities.
- Set their daily tasks and goals independently. This is especially true of novelists, poets, and freelance writers.
- Work in a competitive environment in which they may be responsible for locating work. Daily and weekly deadlines must be met.
- May work part time or full time. Copywriters usually work full time.
- May have a flexible schedule.
Physical Work Conditions
In a typical work setting, people in this career:
- Sit for long periods of time.
- Repeat the same motions.
- Use hands to handle, control, or feel objects, tools, or controls.
- See details of objects that are less than a few feet away.
- Speak clearly so listeners can understand.
- Understand the speech of another person.
- Use hands and fingers to grasp, move, or assemble objects.
- See details of objects that are more than a few feet away.
- Hold the arm and hand in one position or hold the hand steady while moving the arm.
- Hear sounds and recognize the difference between them.
- See differences between colors, shades, and brightness.
People in this career frequently:
It is important for people in this career to be able to:
It is not as important, but still necessary, for people in this career to be able to:
Source: Minnesota Department of Education.