Although many of us are writers and editors in our everyday life-correcting the spelling on a memo, questioning the insight of a newspaper reporter, writing emails-not everyone is suited to turning communication into a career. But the field is perfect for you if you possess an ongoing engagement with language and a keen desire to communicate ideas to people effectively and efficiently. Careers in this industry vary widely: The subject, length, and style of what you write or edit are variables that depend on where you work and the position you've chosen.
Writers tell stories. Business writers tell stories about companies and their management teams, organizational structures, and economic successes and failures. Feature writers tell stories about celebrities, movies, and people doing different, sometimes unusual, things. Copywriters use language to convey a story about the benefits of a brand or product. Writing almost always requires research or knowledge about a particular subject. While many writers start out as generalists, in the course of reporting or writing a story, they must become experts.
Editors often start out as writers, and in many cases their role involves substantial writing. However, their role also bridges the space between writer and publication. They help writers craft stories, make sure writers adhere to style guidelines and rules of grammar, and ensure that every article is suitable for a particular publication. Editors straddle management and production, often managing writers and budgets, setting deadlines, scheduling what will run and when, and enforcing general editorial standards of quality.
Editorial and writing careers span industries. Advertising agencies hire copywriters to create compelling copy that will sell readers on a brand. PR agencies use writers to create press releases, write annual reports, draft speeches, and create op-eds (opinion pieces that PR firms try to "place" in newspapers to reach target groups). Computer software and hardware companies use technical writers and editors to develop documentation and technical information on software and hardware products.