Your Guide To The Chicago Writing Scene
Chicago is an industrious city that manages to blend three distinctive sectors into a melting pot of activity. From the blue collar workers that established Chicago to the entrepreneurs who are developing its booming tech sector, the creative world of writing manages to settle neatly into place between them. Writers who aspire to have a career with the written word could not find a better market to call their home.
Making a Living as a Chicago Writer
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Chicago metropolitan area is remarkably friendly to writers and authors. Individuals pursuing a career in writing can expect to earn an average of nearly $67,900 per year on the high end of the spectrum. According to data compiled by Projections Central, the long-term growth of writers in Chicago and the surrounding area is projected at 3.4% over the next ten years.
While Chicago is renowned for being a creative market, due in large part to its association with famous companies like the Steppenwolf Theater and Second City Chicago, there are also many technical writing jobs available. According to Indeed, copywriters can earn up to $70,000 per year while content marketing managers will earn north of $85,000 at the right company.
From Lake Shore Drive to the far reaches of tiny suburbs like Woodstock, opportunity is abundant for people looking to pursue a career in writing. Online job networks like Indeed and Glassdoor are almost always filled with postings for freelance, part-time, and full-time positions in a number of different specialties. To put this in as simple of terms as possible, Chicago locals and future transplants can depend on job opportunities in a number of writing-related fields.
Educational Opportunities for Writers to Advance in Chicago
Chicago is a world-class destination and it should surprise no one that the city also offers premier education. There are over 100 different public and private colleges in Chicago and the immediate surrounding area. Aspiring writers should have no problem landing in a university that fits their career aspirations.
Nestled in the beautiful suburbs of Evanston, Northwestern University claims the top spot as one of Chicago’s most prized learning institutions. Northwestern’s campus touts 21,000 students with a graduation rate of 93%.
Aspiring writers who want to experience the inner workings of the city while they pursue their education might find the University of Chicago to be an inspired choice. The University of Chicago is a prestigious school located near Hyde Park and Woodlawn.
At the end of the day, no matter which direction your education leads you, Chicago will have a learning institution to fit your needs. Outside of the classroom, writers can also engage in a number of professional and recreational networking and skill development opportunities.
Writing Meet Up Groups in Chicago
- Just Write Chicago, ongoing. One of the most popular writing groups in the city, Just Write Chicago serves up a full slate of events and group writing activities with a focus on inspiring writers to get their work done. Regular meetings are on Mondays.
- The Chicago Writers Circle, ongoing. Regular meetings on Friday’s take place at the Next Door Cafe. Focus here is on pushing your craft to the next level while connecting with like-minded individuals.
- The Creative Impostor: Chicago Women’s Collective, ongoing. Focused on providing an outlet for creative expression, the CWCC provides a platform for writers throughout the area. This meet up group is specifically focused on writing from a female perspective.
Chicago Conferences for Writers to Consider in 2019
- Let’s Just Write! An Uncommon Writers Conference, March 16 – 17, 2019, at the Warwick Allerton on N. Michigan Ave. This invigorating event is designed to put storytellers in the room with publishers and established authors. 12 presenters, book signings, and Q&A panels are just a few of the highlights of this event.
- 2019 Writing Workshop of Chicago, June 29, 2019, at the Congress Plaza Hotel. This one-day event is focused on teaching aspiring writers what they need to do in order to navigate the tumultuous publishing world. Attendants will get to meet professional literary agents and editors from several major publishing houses.
- TEDxChicago, May 1, 2019, at Venue SIX10 on S. Michigan Ave. The TEDx movement is taking over the world and Chicago is getting involved. Featuring 10 live speakers and an array of performers, TEDxChicago seeks to bring energy and enthusiasm to your front door.
- Digital Summit Chicago, August 28 – 29, 2019, location TBA. This two-day event focuses on the people who are currently shaping the digital marketing landscape. Attendees will get to attend panels, learn about new technology and marketing techniques, and connect with the leaders of this rapidly evolving industry. Therea re plenty of networking opportunities, as well.
Workshops, Classes and More for Writers in Chicago
If you want to develop your craft in a structured environment, Chicago offers a variety of different options for you to explore. Mark your calendars and grab your laptop, you have some learning to do!
- The Writers’ Loft, check website for dates. The Writers’ Loft offers a 6-course workshop that lasts for 2.5 hours per session. You’ll explore specific writing techniques, present your work, and receive feedback from a panel of experienced and published writers. Located in Printers’ Row, this workshop is easily accessible from the Loop.
- StoryStudio Chicago, dates vary. Founded by Jill Pollack, StoryStudio Chicago is a full-fledged institution for learning the ins and outs of writing. There is a full collection of coursework to choose from and you’ll be able to tailor your courses to your schedule.
- Chicago Writers Studio, dates vary. Sign up for online classes or head down to the historic Beverly neighborhood in order to hone your craft. You can sign up for their free newsletter in order to stay apprised of upcoming events and activities.
The Best Places for Writers to Write in Chicago
Chicago is a beautiful city that is easy to traverse thanks to a variety of public transit options including the famous L train. If you are looking to get out of your office in order to write in a new environment, right alongside your fellow writer, you have countless options to choose from. Grab your laptop and a cup of coffee and try out any of these wonderful writing locations in the city of Chicago:
- Murray-Green Library, Roosevelt University
- Mansueto Library, University of Chicago
- Limitless Coffee & Tea
- Chicago Athletic Association Hotel Lounge
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention a few of the magnificent writing-friendly cafes and bars that dot Chicago’s bustling landscape. From the literary-themed Wilde Bar and Restaurant in East Lake View to the Volumes Bookcafe in Wicker Park, you’re going to have a great environment conducive to your work. If you want to enjoy some delicious sandwich while you are working on your next piece, consider checking out Sawada Coffee or Dollop Coffee & Tea.
Community Groups for Writers in Chicago
Chicago is a city that prides itself on coming together as a community. As a result, you’ll find many different community writing groups. Listed below, you’ll see just a sample of what the city has to offer.
- Chicago Writers Association is a non-profit writing group that was established in 2003. The goal of the Chicago Writers Association is to encourage, inform and inspire writers to pursue their passion in life.
- Writer’s Studio is a formal writing group that offers a home for artists of all skill levels. With free community events and a slate of paid classes, there is something for everyone.
- Shut Up & Write is an international collective with groups located in over 80 different cities across the planet. Free weekly events inspire writers to hone their craft and to network with other professionals in the city.
- Independent Writers of Chicago provides writers with professional resources, free events, and posted job listings. This writing group reaches out to both sides of the aisle as they also operate as a hiring platform.
Local Companies Hiring Chicago Writers
Thanks to the continued importance of the internet and the information that is on it, writers are enjoying a massive boost to their industry. Whether you are a freelance writer, content marketing professional, journalist or copywriter, Chicago offers many different avenues to a rewarding career.
Digital Marketing Agencies
Digital marketing agencies are the lifeblood of the information age that we are currently living in. These agencies help businesses to get their ideas and concepts out in front of their fans, readers, and competitors. If you are pursuing a career in online marketing, these companies may be ideal recruiters for your services.
- WriterAccess. That’s us! Our Boston-based content marketing platform is among the best in the business, providing writing services to more than 25,000 customers by way of 15,000 freelance writers, editors, content strategists, and translators. We’re always on the hunt for freelance professionals who have the skills and expertise to keep our clients’ companies growing organically—the content marketing way. We plan to expand into five countries in the next few months, so APPLY NOW!
- Scripted is a content marketing platform that offers job opportunities for every level and style of professional writer. As a collaborative network, writers will be able to use their personal background in order to craft content for clients at a variety of different levels. Scripted has been featured by LinkedIn, L’Oreal, LoanMe, and Eventbrite.
- Upwork is another digital content creation platform that focuses on providing freelance writers the reach that they need in order to connect with businesses looking for writing talent. Writers can control their profile, craft a portfolio, and connect with any number of businesses and agencies that are interested in content creation.
Join Chicago’s Rich History of Incredible Writers!
If following in the footsteps of literary giants inspires you, Chicago can offer a wealth of motivation and inspiration. In fact, Chicago is home to one of the most iconic authors of all time in Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway may have risen to fame for his work in Paris in the 1920s, but he sharpened his teeth as a teenager from Oak Park, right outside of Chicago. Edgar Rice Burroughs was also born and raised in Chicago. In fact, before Burroughs was tied to the character Tarzan, he was writing copy for a marketing company in Chicago. The Windy City was also home to literary giants such as Shel Silverstein, Sandra Cisneros, and Gwendolyn Brooks.
Randall C is a Chicago based freelance writer with immense experience in the industry. He is a seasoned writer in entertainment, sports, and general listicle content. He specializes in catering content to specific audiences and has played a part in getting content to go viral, bringing in page views for his clients.
Randall is a heavy consumer of all things entertainment: from the dregs of the Hollywood gossip tabloids to the latest, breaking news in the world of sports. Working in such industries has taught Randall the importance of timely editing, quick turnarounds, and a ‘do it right the first time’, approach. Randall is a lover of family, fiction, and friends. He’s a full time writer, a full time sports enthusiast, and a regular actor in the Chicago media market.