Your Guide to the New York City Writing Scene
New York City has been a magnet for writers for centuries. The city offers a rich stew of interesting people, world-class cultural events, and the sense that anything might be possible right around the next corner.
Making a Living as a New York City Writer
Writers in New York City make an average base pay of $59,454 per year, according to Glassdoor. That’s 10 percent above the national average. For content writers, specifically, it’s $54,326 per year, 11 percent above average.
Educational Opportunities for Writers to Advance in New York City
There’s never a shortage of educational choices for writers in NY, no matter how much or how little time or money you want to spend. Options range from free lectures and workshops at NYC’s three public library systems to graduate degree programs at the world-renowned Journalism School at Columbia University.
Writing Meetup Groups in New York City
Meetup.com started in New York City soon after 9/11. The founders’ purpose was to bring people together. Today, Meetup has spread across the globe, but New York City is still one of the most active Meetup cities worldwide.
There are hundreds of Meetup groups for New York writers. Some cast a wide net, like the New York Writing Club, while others are more specific, catering to specific niches of creative or commercial writers, such as the NYC Over 40 Poets and Musicians On The Edge Open Mic and the Content Strategy NYC groups. There are lots of critique groups as well as groups where people work together in silence. In the unlikely event that you can’t find a group that meets your needs, Meetup makes it easy to start your own.
New Meetup groups pop up all the time, and existing ones may close. After you sign up with Meetup, you can choose to receive announcements of new groups that match your interests.
New York City Conferences for Writers to Consider in 2019
- Digital Summit NYC — May 1-2, 2019. 45 sessions covering various aspects of digital marketing, including content, social, analytics, brand storytelling, and search.
- ASJA’s 48th Annual Writers Conference — May 5-6, 2019. This year’s theme for the ASJA (American Society of Journalists and Authors) Conference is “Collaboration Nation.” Four tracks focus on journalism, content marketing, the business of writing, and books. Special sessions for freelancers at all experience levels will be offered, as well as mastermind sessions for new members led by experienced freelancers.
- The Writer’s Digest Annual Conference — August 23-25, 2019. Put on by the magazine of the same name, this conference focuses on both the craft and the business of writing for writers of fiction, nonfiction, screenplays, memoirs, or poetry.
Workshops, Classes, Book Fairs, and More for Writers in New York City
Like everything else pertaining to writers in New York City, the list of workshops, classes, and other events for writers is super-sized. There is something going on every day. Here are some highlights:
- In addition to the huge selection of peer-run writers’ workshops in Meetup.com, which are usually free or charge a very nominal fee, the NY Writers’ Coalition offers free drop-in public writing workshops in Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan libraries.
- Fee-based workshops are offered at the New School; workshop / craft classes in fiction, nonfiction, screenwriting and comedy at the Gotham Writers Workshop (sample their classes for free in the summer in Bryant Park); advanced fiction and poetry workshops at the 92nd Street Y; and fiction, poetry, and memoir workshops at the Writers Studio.
- Some interesting specialized classes include an 8-week intensive screenwriting workshop for beginning screenwriters at the New York Film Academy; two-week courses for high school students at the New York Times Summer Academy; a class on writing for late-night TV at the Laughing Buddha Comedy School; and the crime fiction academy at the Center for Fiction.
- The annual Brooklyn Book Festival is the largest free book fair in New York City, with different panel discussions every hour on more than a dozen indoor and outdoor stages, and booths selling works from independent bookstores and local publishers. There are lots of freebies given out too. The main event this year will be on Sunday, Sept 22, 2019, in the Borough Hall Plaza in downtown Brooklyn. Children’s book day is Saturday the 21st in Metro Tech Commons, and other festival-related events will take place throughout Brooklyn on the 16th to the 23rd.
- Other notable book fairs include the Harlem Book Fair, celebrating its 21st year on Saturday, July 20, 2019; the 10th annual Rainbow Book Fair, which is the largest LGBT book fair in the country, date to be announced; and the 59th annual Antiquarian Book Fair at the Park Avenue Armory on March 7-10, 2019.
The Best Places for Writers to Write in New York City
If you are a freelance writer who craves a change of scenery, you’re in luck. The number of coworking spaces in the city has increased exponentially in recent years. New Worker Magazine has an updated map of every coworking space in the greater NYC area. Most are clustered in Lower and Midtown Manhattan and Carroll Gardens, Williamsburg, and Greenpoint in Brooklyn.
A few noteworthy ones:
- The Writers Room opened in 1978 as the first nonprofit shared workspace for writers in the United States. It’s open 24/7 every day of the year and provides a supportive community of serious established and emerging writers in addition to a quiet and comfortable place to work.
- Coworking giant WeWork (soon to be renamed the “We Company”) is growing like crazy. The company’s first coworking space opened in New York’s SoHo in 2010. Now it has more than 50 buildings in New York City, including the former Lord & Taylor flagship building on Fifth Avenue. It also bought Meetup in 2017.
- The Wing has three luxurious coworking spaces for women in NYC that emphasize community and host special events, including an annual camp-for-adults weekend in the woods.
A free or cheap (price of a drink) alternative is working in the lobbies of chic hotels. The Ace Hotel and Citizen M are two hotels with stunning lobbies that welcome the public and provide desks for working and free WiFi.
Community Groups for Writers in New York City
The Center for Fiction. In addition to its workshops (mentioned above), the Center’s new 18,000-square-foot building in Brooklyn, which is opening soon, will have a 160-seat auditorium, a cafe, reading rooms, classroom space, and workspace for writers.
The Poets House has a library, classes taught by top poets, readings, talks, and other events.
For other fiction and poetry events, check the literary events calendar on the Poets & Writers site.
Local Companies Hiring New York City Writers
New York City is a world center in publishing and media. Media Bistro is an excellent source for local media job listings. Interested in writing for television? The Writers Guild of America East has a list of writers’ rooms located in NY. Internships during and after college are a good way to get a foot in the door of these competitive industries.
The city is becoming an increasingly important center for tech start-ups. Many need technical, marketing, and editorial writers. Check out Built in NYC for job listings.
For high-salaried corporate writing jobs, LinkedIn and Indeed are good places to look.
Finally, if you are looking for good benefits and job security, the city itself is a major employer, with more than 325,000 employees. Examples of writing jobs with the City of New York include technical writer with a salary range of 52,524 to $81,535 and writer/producer with the Office of Communications with a similar salary range. The city also has media internships.
Digital Marketing Agencies
Marketing in New York City has evolved since the “Mad Men” days. The city’s many digital marketing agencies may be fruitful sources of gigs for today’s freelance content writers. Content platforms based in New York include Contently.
Join the Ranks of Some of the Best Writers in the World!
You can argue about who was included and excluded from Time Out’s short list of the best NYC writers of all time, but there’s no denying the city’s rich literary history, which attracts and inspires some of the world’s best writers today.
Are you an agency, company, or individual looking for high-quality freelance content writing? Hire New York City writers wherever you are right here at WriterAccess.
Marjorie R has written articles online for more than 15 years and has also written humor for American Greetings and crossword puzzles for the New York Times. She wrote an entertainment blog that was consistently in the top 5 in the Google search results, and at its peak was #1 out of a total of 66,499,997 results. She has a B.A. in Psychology from UC Berkeley, an M.A. in Creative Writing/English from SF State, and a J.D. from UC Hastings.