On Being an English Major

Hello, readers! I figured I would give you a nice look into the life of a college writer. So I’m a junior this year, which means I have to actually put a lot of thought into my future. I would like to be a writer full-time but dreams don’t always come true. Sorry. I would be very happy as an editor, though, so that is my actual career goal for now. I’m looking into masters programs in creative writing.

If you want to be a writer, the main thing that you have to do is, erm, write. I know how obvious that sounds, but bear with me. If this is what you want to do with your whole entire soul, you can’t half-ass the actual work portion. Disclaimer: I’m not a successful writer (yet, but hopefully someday). I’m just passing on some information that I’ve had drilled into my head over the last few years.

I tend to write at least two hours a day, whether I’m writing long-hand in the notebook I keep with me or typing. It doesn’t have to be cohesive scenes. It could just be ideas. And don’t worry about structuring your notes a certain way – as long as you can understand them, they’re good enough. I’m working on a draft right now and I can tell you that it’s absolute crap. That’s okay. The actual magic happens during the editing process.

I try to write a couple of things at once. I have a primary project, which is a book series that I’ve been working on for a few years. I just finished polishing the first book and I’m looking to place that, so that’s a fun (and not at all terrifying) time. I also write poetry on the side. As a general rule, I try to submit poetry and short fiction to six different places a week. This allows me to consistently produce new material and feel like I’m legitimately working towards something. In addition, I’m currently reading for a fiction contest for a small press in my hometown, which is very exciting.

So that’s what I’m up to these days. Writing, writing, editing, writing, editing some more, submitting, and learning. One thing I encourage other English majors to keep in mind is that this isn’t something that you get good at overnight, or something that happens quickly. A finished and edited manuscript does not just land in your lap overnight. It takes time and effort and a whole lot of love. And editing. Don’t forget about editing.

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2 thoughts on “On Being an English Major

  1. Awesome post! I just finished up my B.A. in English this last semester. If you haven’t looked into it yet, I would highly recommend listening to the Writing Excuses podcast by Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler, and Dan Wells. I have learned more from 1 season of that podcast that from most of my undergrad writing courses. I hope you are having a wonderful day, and good luck with your writing.

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