Making a Living as a Writer

As part of the University of Surrey Careers Service’s ‘Welcome to my World’ series of talks on Wednesday 21st November our students had the opportunity to attend a fascinating talk from Jonathan Steffen on the topic of how to make a living as a writer.

Jonathan Steffen has specialised in international corporate communications for twenty-five years and is Managing Director of The Corporate Story – a firm which helps business leaders to communicate where their organisations are coming from, where they are going, and what they stand for. An English Literature graduate, Jonathan is an accomplished poet and since graduating he has combined his interest in writing creatively with his interest in business, working variously as a translator, interpreter, editor and more recently corporate communications consultant and ghost-writer. He spoke about his own experiences as a writer and how his perceptions of what it means to write creatively – and the uses to which a young writer might put their skills – have broadened and diversified. Jonathan has also very kindly agreed for The Corporate Story to host one of our English Literature and Creative Writing students for part of their Professional Training Year next year – a fantastic opportunity for one of our own aspiring writers.

The talk was followed by a lively and informative question and answer session. Jonathan was particularly entertaining in describing his early years as an ambitious young poet and short story writer – and about the ways in which his understanding of what it means to write, and of ways in which writers can contribute to the world, have developed and changed over the course of a highly successful career. The visit was a valuable reminder to all of us to think broadly and inventively about where our talents might lead us – and a reminder that not all creative writing takes places in a solitary garret!