Becoming a writer

I know there are some writers on this board so I thought I’d throw this out–a relative of mine is interested in becoming a writer but wants some advice.

He’s a recent law grad but isn’t really enjoying it so he’s thinking about a change of pace, and since he’s a solid writer he thought that might be a good direction to go in. He’s really into music and a great guitar player so his first thought is being a music writer/reviewer. How would he go about this? Start a blog? Submit articles to mags/sites? How feasible is it as career? I suppose starting off it might be something he does on the side without quitting his day job.

There are legal publications. Each state has its own Bar Association publications, usually. There may be government jobs where the combination of the law degree and solid writing might help.

If he wants to cover the music scene, I’d suggest pitching the local publications. In the bigger cities there are usually a number of free newspapers and magazines published that pay some attention to the music scene.

Note that the freelance writing thing takes some time to develop into a full-time income, and even then it’s rare for it to be lucrative. Some people manage it, though.

This is one of those “don’t quit your day job” things. He will need to pad his resume with very low paying writing gigs at first.

There’s gotta be a market out there for a law blog. Is your relative named Bob?

I’m no expert on the US market, but generally speaking making a living writing about anything cultural be it music, games or movies takes a lot of luck and hard work - ie most start doing it for free on blogs or in college papers when they’re young and most end up doing something else, once they actually need an income.

Just look at how many of the writers here have it as a second occupation - the Tom Chicks are few and far apart (and I have no idea how well Tom’s doing finacially… but I’d be surprised if he makes as much as a lawyer)

On the other hand, being a journalist with a law degree would mean a boost in earnings here, so perhaps that’s the case in the US too? Of course if he doesn’t even care enough about law or finance to even write about it, that’s not an option. But he could try that and then do the music writing on the side - perhaps getting a breakthrough later if he’s any good (and very lucky).

I don’t want to break anybody’s dream, but where I live journalists wages are generally much higher than in the US, and I still have to write about boring stuff to make ends meet while covering games on the side… writing about movies I gave up on ages ago, because there’s also 20 film students willing to do it for the free tickets and off chance to interview a hero. The professionals doing nothing but are a rare breed (and getting rarer as mainstream media turns to the free writers to cut costs)

There’s already faaarrr too many.

Also depends on if, or what types of writing he’d be willing to do as a “day job”. There are 9-to-5 writing jobs like marketing, advertising, public relations, or general corporate communications copywriting, as well as technical writing in a variety of fields.

Has your relative thought about moving into a career like PR or Investor Relations? When I used to do PR/IR, solid writing and editing skills were essential due to the large amount of writing press releases and other presentations. I know it’s a bit different to what he may have his heart set on, but if writing is something he really wants to do, it definitely is a career that would use that skill set.