Being a writer can be more than just a fun pastime or a way to get good grades in school. It can actually be a skill that turns into a lifelong profession. While writing a best-selling book is a lofty goal, there are other jobs that allow those with a passion for words to earn a living and pursue their enthusiasm for expression. But don’t just Take My Word For It!

This week contributor Allison Speer writes about being a copy writer for the zoo!

Growing up, I always kept diaries, journals and poetry books. I never really described myself as a writer, because it was just something I did to release feelings or record moments of my life I wanted to remember. Even when I attended newspaper reporting journalism classes in college, I still wasn’t sure what kind of a writer I wanted to be. I just knew that I was good at it and , that it came easy for me. Mostly I loved how quickly the hours passed when I was typing away at a keyboard.

 I worked for an advertising agency during college and met a woman there who was a copy writer. Using words, she would craft a work of art that was witty, informative and clever. Sometimes her work was displayed on billboards, brochures, even television or radio commercials. How cool, I thought, to see your words posted all over town!

Today, I am a copy writer at the Fort Worth Zoo, one of the top zoos in the country. It takes a lot of reading, questioning and researching into things I don’t have a clue about – like why giraffes don’t bend their knees when they eat grass, or why turtles don’t have teeth. I work with some incredibly smart zoologists and scientists who refer me to scientific journals, web sites, and big, thick books (with no pictures). The great challenge is to take their detailed research and simplify it into a few sentences so all our guests can understand what we want to teach them about the animals.

I guess that’s one of my favorite things about being a writer: You have a chance to learn a little bit about a lot of subjects. And I like walking out into the zoo, seeing a sign describing the gorillas, and being able to say, “Hey, I wrote that!”