Creative industries

Writer (creative industries)

Writer (creative industries)

Writers work across all the creative industries to a greater or lesser degree.  Screenwriters play a fundamental role within film and TV drama, just as playwrights are core in most theatre, authors are central to the publishing industry and journalists are at the heart of newspapers and broadcast news.  Writers are also present in animation, games and unscripted TV development.

In addition to that, writers are needed in roles that make the creative industries work as businesses – in advertising, marketing, publicity, fund raising and the creation of websites and social media. Where writers can be flexible and learn the ways of different sectors, there is enormous potential for a portfolio career.

Case study – Emma Millions

Emma Millions works as a screenwriter for film and TV. She’s also a development producer in unscripted TV, a tutor in writing and writes copy and pitches for business.

“I’m never out of work. I’m thrilled to be constantly busy,” says Emma. “When one part of my work dries up, I can jump back into another sector. I’m constantly entertained by my work. I constantly have lots of different projects on the go.”

Core skills for writers across the creative sectors

  • Storytelling – the narrative arc of a story is the same, whether that’s in business, theatre, screen or games
  • Keeping the audience in mind – as well as holding the narrative arc of the story, remember who you are writing for and use the language, motifs and points of reference to which they can relate
  • Keeping the genre in mind – have a thorough understanding of the genre or sector and its limitations and creative possibilities, whether that be a stage, a game engine or an advertisement on the back of a bus
  • Understanding the time frame of the work – for copywriting, deadlines are tighter than in film and TV. Be clear about the brief and work to it
  • Selling yourself – stay up to date with the needs of the sector or person with whom you want to work. Pitch your services accordingly
  • Freelancing – be able to keep your books, manage your finances and stay alert to new business opportunities. For ScreenSkills’ guide on how to do this, go to Freelance Toolkit.

Tips for writers moving between creative sectors

"Say yes to anything – then work out how to do it later if you don't already know."

Emma Millions
  • Immerse yourself in the sector in which you want to develop – go to the theatre, study advertisements, play games
  • Learn about the different ways in which scripts or pitches need to be presented in different sectors. Download screen plays, stage plays and fund-raising applications to see how it’s done
  • Present yourself according to the sector in which you’re working. In film and TV, you can dress like a creative – whatever that means to you.  Business clients are likely to be reassured by dress that is smart and formal
  • Balance the need for self-expression with the needs of the client. In some roles, such as screenwriting, you can craft the narrative through your own desire to tell it; in others, such as copywriting, you are serving an audience and a business. Enjoy those differences and learn how to balance them within your portfolio
  • Get to know people in the sectors into which you want to move. This will pay off in terms of securing roles and asking for help when you’re learning new things

Related job profiles

Writers in all creative industries