How to become a Creative Writer (Novelist)

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We’ve all read a book or two. Few books have deeply moved us, while others have caused us to skip a few pages. Yet, we’ve all wondered “Why did the author choose this topic to write on?” Or we admire their ability to be so relatable to the reader.

The word ‘Creative Writer’ is an umbrella term for different types of writers including but not limited to, poets, bloggers, novelists, screenwriters, playwrights, etc. Each differs from the other based on its type of writing. 

In this blog, we will explore how to become a creative writer/novelist. We will guide you through the educational qualifications required, the best colleges in India and abroad, and the pathway for preparation as a writer. 

Who is a Writer? 

A simple definition of a writer would be, ‘ a person who communicates his/her ideas/thoughts creatively in a written form of work.’

A novelist is a creative writer who specializes in long-form fiction rather than shorter forms like poetry, essays, or short stories.

Also read: How to become an Editor

How to Become a Creative Writer

Being a novelist, like any other creative endeavour, comes with a unique set of hurdles. Understanding the progression and skillset required for the profession would yield better output. 

Step 1: Stream to select

A degree in Literature with a creative writing specialization would be great for becoming a novelist. However, some authors do not have a formal literary background. Aside from formal education, there are online courses on creative writing or fiction writing that might be useful when practising.

Step 2: Certification Courses & Project Courses

Different publishing houses offer writing projects. One would have to submit their portfolio of writings to be considered for the project. Post which, you will have to submit the work on a timely basis to the publishing firm.

Various recognized Institutions offer certificate courses on Creative writing, that can aid in building connections and acquiring writing insights. Here are a few places that offer certificate courses in creative writing:

  • Xavier Institute of Communications
  • The Writers Bureau
  • Coursera Specialisation: “Good with words: Writing and Editing” (Offered by University of Texas)
  • Deer Park Institute, Himachal Pradesh
  • Commonwealth Education Trust
  • Sri Aurobindo center for arts and communication

Step 3: Educational Qualifications

There is no specific educational qualification required for becoming a novelist. However, if you choose to write a specific type of novel, say psychological thrillers, or science-fiction, a degree complementing the knowledge required for such writing can be a good option.  

How to become a Creative Writer after 10th 

One can choose any stream after completing Grade 10. It would be a good time to participate in writing workshops and develop a reading habit by reading fictional and non-fictional works of literature.

How to become a Creative Writer after 12th

You can apply for a diploma or any undergraduate course after the completion of Grade 12. A degree in Arts or a related field would help in the creative process as it gives the student exposure to a wide range of writings. 

Procedure to become a creative writer in India 

To apply for any diploma or undergraduate course, a minimum of 50% in Grade 10 + 2 is required from a recognized board and university. 

Read more: How to become a Screenwriter

  • Diploma courses In India
Name of the courseDuration
Diploma in Creative Writing in English (DCE) by IGNOU1 year
Diploma in Creative Writing in English (DCWE) by Symbiosis1 year
Diploma in Effective Writing Skills by Alison1 year
Diploma in Creative Writing: Advanced Fiction and Writing for Performance by University of Cambridge1 year
Graduate Diploma in Creative Writing by UTS1 – 1.5 years
  • Undergraduate courses In India 

Here are a few Undergraduate courses you can try if you want to become a novelist or writer: 

Name of the courseDuration
Bachelors of Arts in Literature with specialization in Creative Writing3 years
Bachelors in Mass Communication3 years
Bachelors in Fine Arts3 years
BA (Theatre Studies, English, Psychology)3 years
Bachelors of Arts in Linguistics3 years
  • Top colleges in India

The following colleges offer the undergraduate programs mentioned above:

Name of InstitutionLocation
Xavier’s CollegeMumbai
Christ UniversityDelhi
Lady Shriram CollegeDelhi
Jawaharlal Nehru UniversityDelhi
Loyola CollegeChennai
Centre for Research in Art of Film and TelevisionDelhi 
Indian Institute of Mass CommunicationNew Delhi
Indian Institute of Journalism and New MediaBangalore
Sophia College for WomenMumbai
Jamia Millia IslamiaDelhi

To become a Creative Writer abroad 

In order to apply for an undergraduate program abroad, a candidate will need to have the following documents,

  • A minimum of 60% in 10 + 2 from a recognized board and institution.
  • Statement of Purpose with two references.
  • A filled application and Supplementary Application questionnaire (SAQ)
  • IELTS score of 5.5 and above.
  • TOEFL score of 90 and above
  • UG course for creative writer Abroad

Following are a few courses one can apply for abroad. 

Name of the courseDuration
Bachelors in Creative Writing3 years
Bachelors in Art, Film, and Visual Studies4 years
Creative Writing and English Literature – BA (Hons)3 years
Creative Arts Practice and Creative Writing – BA (Hons)3 years
Creative Writing and History – BA (Hons)3 years
  • Top colleges abroad

The following colleges offer the undergraduate programs mentioned above:

Name of the InstitutionLocation
University of GreenwichUK
Teesside UniversityUK
Bath Spa University UK
Liverpool Hope University UK
University of Rhode IslandUSA
The University of WaikatoNew Zealand
University of TennesseeUSA
University of VictoriaCanada
Colorado State UniversityUSA

Step 4: Job Prep required to become a Creative Writer

  1. Internships

One can work as an intern in publishing houses or work on projects. Another way of practising the skill is to work on Grants

A writing grant can help you finish those long projects on your hands until you can write professionally full-time, functioning as a buffer when actual revenue is sparse.

  1. Portfolio creation

In your portfolio, you can add your internship experiences, and share your publications or writing blog. Make sure to add your certificate courses and additional writing projects.

Join a writers club or attend workshops to build professional connections. This would also help in working with collaborative projects. 

  1. Freelance

Apart from Grants, one can even publish their works on platforms like WordPress, and Wattpad and receive feedback from a larger audience. You can also try Ghostwriting, wherein you create content that is attributed to another person.

Ghostwriting can generate some revenue, but not necessarily the recognition as a writer.

  1. Tools used by writers

Here’s a list of online tools that can help in the writing process:

  • Editing: Hemingway Editor, Grammarly, Quillbot, WebFx
  • Dictation: Dragon; Express Scribe Pro; Nuance OmniPage
  • Writing Software: Google docs, Focus Writers, Evernote,
  • Style Guides: Elements of Style; AP Stylebook; Chicago Manual of Style
  • Cloud Storage: Google Drive; Box; Dropbox

Skills to become a Creative Writer 

Skills of a Novelist

The skills that a novelist should have are:

For Writing

  • Editing
  • Persuasive storytelling
  • Language expertise (Grammar, Syntax, and vocabulary)
  • Reading
  • Communication skills.

For Personal

  • Discipline
  • Determination
  • Adaptability
  • Organisation skills
  • Socialising
  • Problem-solving 

Salary of a Creative Writer

It’s difficult to estimate how much a novelist earns because so much depends on the likelihood of the novel becoming a best seller or the number of copies sold.

Salary in India for a Writer

In India, a book is considered to be a best seller if it reaches 20,000 copies sales. Upon the sale of the novel, an author earns a royalty from the sales which is generally 1-10%.

If you are a new author, you might get only 5%- 7.5% of your MRP as royalty. If you’re an established writer, you will be paid a 10% royalty. There are very few writers who get a two-digit royalty rate in India. 

Salary abroad for a Writer

As per Bookriot, a traditionally published author makes 5-20% royalties on print books, 10-25% on audiobooks, and 25% on ebooks.

Amazon pays 70% on ebooks priced between 2.99 to 9.99, and 35% on ebooks priced higher than that. 

Top publishing houses in India

Here are the top companies and publishing houses that hire writers in India: 

  1. Times of India
  2. Oracle
  3. Screen Rant
  4. Penguin Books India
  5. Random House India. 
  6. Wiley India. 
  7. Harper Collins Publishers India. 
  8. MacMillan Publishers India.
  9. Seagull Books. 
  10. Rupa Publications

Top publishing houses abroad

Here are the top companies and publishing houses that hire writers abroad: 

  1. Pearson Education
  2. Penguin Random House
  3. Hachette Book Group
  4. John Wiley & Sons
  5. HarperCollins
  6. Springer Nature
  7. McGraw-Hill Education
  8. Macmillan Publishers
  9. Scholastic
  10. Kodansha

As a Novelist one might face various challenges that they need to overcome through short and long-term solutions. Identifying your niche, developing a reading strategy, and incorporating feedback will take you a long way. It might not be one of the immediate successful careers, but it is one of the most creative and autonomous ones. 

Being a writer in India is not any less than starting your own business. Learn the problem-solving skill and strategic thinking required for it from the Clever Harvey Junior MBA course on Entrepreneurship.

Elon Musk’s secrets to success

FAQs about how to become a Creative Writer or Novelist

How much does a writer earn in India?

It is difficult to estimate how much a novelist or writer earns. It depends on the sales of the book and the royalty percentage. Please refer to the “How much does a novelist earn?” section for more information.

How do I start a career as a writer?

There is no starting point for starting a career as a writer. However, an excellent command of language is a must aspect for qualifying as a writer. 

What qualifications do you need to become a writer?

A graduation degree would be a helpful start as a qualification to becoming a writer. 

Where can I publish my writings?

You can publish your work on online platforms or submit your work to publishing houses like Penguin, Routledge, Black Swan, etc. 

Which universities offer courses on writing?

Khalsa College, Amritsar, Nirmal Haloi College, Barpeta, and Calcutta University are a few colleges that offer courses on writing. 

What editing tools can I use for writing?

Hemingway Editor, Grammarly, Quillbot, WebFx, etc. are a few of the editing tools one can use. 

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Do you love to create a fictional world with words? Hey, there future novelist! Read the article to learn about the courses, colleges, and portfolio creation required to become a writer-novelist
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