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Why You Should NEVER Let Non-Writers Tell You Your Writing Profession Isn’t “Practical”

Photo by Jou00e3o Jesus on Pexels.com

Here’s a list of things I would buy if I received a dollar for every time I was told my creative writing degree wasn’t practical:

  • A large island in the South Pacific. I would name it Black Magic Isle and would declare myself the sultan.
  • The Empire State Building. I would turn it into a mall and various other entities, like the Burj Khalifa, speaking of which…
  • The Burj Khalifa. Because why not? After all, I’d be quite wealthy, and I’ve always wanted to go to Dubai.

“Oh good. You have a business minor to back you up.”

Random chick I met in an Uber


It’s a stigma as old as the sands on your favorite beach: “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life…because that profession probably isn’t hiring.” Every creative, especially writers, know this feeling all too well. The perceived notion that if it’s not vocational, then it doesn’t pay. What non-believers fail to realize time and again is that writing isn’t just a hobby- it’s a necessity to keep businesses booming, economies thriving, and people educated, informed, and entertained. How isn’t that practical?


“Why would you listen to a twenty-something- year- old ‘kid’ with no medical background?”Overheard from a former co-worker


According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, industries with the highest published employment and wages for the writers and authors include (but certainly aren’t limited to):

  • Advertising + PR
  • Newspaper, Periodicals
  • Independent/Freelance writers
  • Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting
  • Motion Picture/Video Industries

And let’s not forget various other niches, such as social media copy, web copy, content writing, blogging, article writing, editing, etc. Don’t customers typically read product descriptions before they make a buying decision? Don’t salespersons take marketing documents to close deals? Don’t you read reviews about restaurants before deciding to spend your money there? Don’t you have a favorite show on Netflix? These things aren’t auto-generated by a bot embedded in the processor of some supercomputer. They are planned, written, and edited by professional, talented, and gifted writers.  A world of opportunity exists for us.


“Why would you change to an English degree? That’s not what we hired you for.”CEO, Past employer


The reason why you should never let a non-writer tell you writing isn’t practical is simple: they haven’t and probably never could do it. These are the same people that will be forced to sit through a mandatory “The Art of Storytelling” workshop, mandated by their employer. A workshop that’ll likely be facilitated by that English professor whose degree they said wasn’t “practical.”

The best thing you can do, writer, is bet on yourself.

  • Find a community that supports you.  Join Wattpad, Medium, or WordPress to connect with other writers like you. Put your work out there for the world to see. Create a portfolio showcasing your best work.
  • Read. Read. Read. Explore how other writers use craft and storytelling elements to resonate with their audience.
  • Give and take constructive criticism. Your goal is to be a better writer, an incredible editor and active literary citizen.

Most importantly, never stop writing.

P.S. Everything you know, someone taught you. Special shout out to every teacher I’ve ever had.

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The Quarter (Life Crisis)

Admittedly, I never took the time to see how things could come full circle. I viewed moments as balloons – I’d breathe life into them, entertain them, then watch them float away. Foolishly, I allowed my passion for writing to become one of those balloons, when it should have been a boomerang – always coming back to me, reciprocating the effort I gave it. But here’s the kicker: if you don’t catch that boomerang, it’ll eventually hit you, and it will hurt.

Kala: Childhood

Last night, I sat, legs crossed, on the hard, yet comfortable floor in my mother’s bedroom. I’d come to visit, and we sifted through faded pictures of my former self, wrinkled homemade Mother’s Day cards, and yellowing short stories I’d written in years passed. “Jayde Spooner wrote this in the second grade” (engraved in my then “boxy” calligraphy), concluded a few of my finished “novels.” Alongside that? A hand-drawn caricature of myself (which I now call a “gourmet stick figure.”) Although rough and crispy in nature, my makeshift stories held up well over ten years of tumult. Queue the reminiscence.

Little Jayde would find the nearest corner to curl up in (a 49 cent notebook and BIC pen in hand) and let her imagination run wild. Writing to her was as instinctive as breathing – everything inspired a story. From Sara to Evaneg to Mona and Gustame, Little Jayde’s characters were an ode to the vast array of personalities she’d encountered throughout her girlhood. Her demure demeanor diminished when she was under the influence of the pen. She was in control, the autonomy all hers. And she was magical.

Tukulu: Adulthood

I’m a few weeks shy of my 25th birthday, and I can already tell you how I’ll be celebrating: (one global pandemic + quarantine + racial tensions on tilt + pursuing my Master’s degree) = I’ll be in my damn house with a cold glass of Stella Rosa. Quarantined or not, this is probably how I would have celebrated “The Quarter” anyway. The time inside (and my untimely exit from the corporate world) has given me a chance to redirect my energy. Though I worked in Marketing, I hadn’t written anything of substance in almost two years. Every attempt I made to write a short story or draft an article became overshadowed by the demands of a full-time position, personal matters, the works. I told myself if I really loved creative writing, I would make time for it – but no matter how magical this Black woman was, I couldn’t add a twenty-fifth hour to my day. By the time I would get home from the office (usually around eight p.m.), I just wanted to shower, eat, and hit the hay.

Insert the boomerang. No, I didn’t catch it. Yes, it hit me and hurt…at first.

With pandemics come job losses, and I was no exception. I logged into my laptop for my weekly one-on-one; by the time it was over, my account had been deactivated. I took that weekend to say my goodbyes and unpack almost two years’ worth of triumphs and traumas. Truth be told, I’m still unpacking. The following week, however, I finished my application for grad school. I had already been planning to go back, and this “hit” motivated me to complete the process. While my passion for marketing has definitely taken a backseat, my love for writing propels me forward. Life’s brief and unpredictable- but your legacy? Your legacy bellows from generation to generation, seeping into the minds and hearts of many. I’ve been fortunate enough to work on mine – don’t forget to work on yours.

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Yes, I have an English degree. Please don’t faint.

I’ll never forget the moment that made me proud to be a writer.

While sitting in the back of an Uber driver’s 2005 four-door sedan, I’d begun to nod off as we made our way north of Atlanta to drop me off for a work event.

It was 7:30 a.m., yet the Sun had barely crept up over the horizon. Though still a bit lethargic from last night’s lack of sleep, due to studying for my dreaded accounting exam, and my tumultuous love affair with procrastination in studying for that accounting exam, I didn’t mind the early rising.

There was something mysterious, yet pure about the darkness of that crisp Atlanta morning that sent my mind into creative overdrive. Maybe it was the way the frost from the cold appeared as bright slivers on my window. Or perhaps how the lights that glistened out of the windows of the buildings we passed, mimicked the menagerie of golden plaques hanging on the walls of the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville.

But, it wasn’t this magic that made me proud to be a writer.

No, no. It’s what had occurred right before this moment.

Enter the other Uber passenger we picked up before heading to drop me off.

Let’s call her Volta.

She struck up a casual conversation with the Uber driver and myself. She was new to Atlanta, Nigerian, and majored in Biology at the same university I attended.

“So, what’s your major?” she asked, seeming genuinely curious.

I smiled, “I’m an English major, with a concentration in Creative Writing.”

Suddenly, her gaze of genuine curiosity turned to that of disgust and disappointment. You know that look you have after you watch a terrible cinematic portrayal of your favorite book? Yes, that was the one. It’s a look nearly anyone who studies any liberal art is more than likely familiar with.

Sensing the turn in her demeanor, I quickly mentioned that I was also a Marketing minor. Her expression, still somewhat twisted, showed some signs of relief.

“Oh, good. You have a business minor,” she replied.

I shook my head.

There were so many ways I could have replied to this:

Like how a liberal arts major probably edited that expensive microbiology book sitting on her lap.

Or how a liberal arts major is probably facilitating that mandatory company workshop she had been going on about.

Or how majoring in English taught me how to think, not what to think.

Or that the very art she was condemning was the same one she had to understand so that could study Biology. My art is the gateway to your art: have some loyalty.

Or how of course, Business was important, but it wasn’t something I was passionate about.

But at that moment, unfortunately, this “Master of English” was speechless.

We’d dropped her off, and I knew I’d never see her again, but I did know it wouldn’t be the last time my major of choice would be called into question.

From that day forth, a few things changed:

  • I dropped the minor. It was nothing more than a flotation device that saved me when I found myself drowning in the condescending remarks from “The Vocationals.” I’d had some experience in Marketing already, and there was (and still is) a wealth of free/inexpensive resources, including workshops and courses I could utilize if it were a skill I wanted to grow (I was in the FinTech capital of the South, after all)!
  • I started to surround myself with mentors. I couldn’t be told it was “impossible” if there were people who’d done it (I had a whole department of them, for crying out loud)!
  • I found my niche. I started to put my creative mind to work. As English majors, we’re taught to be detailed-oriented, to think critically, to edit, and always be willing to grow – these are all valuable, transferable skills that you’re learning while doing what you love.
  • I started to believe in myself. It is imperative that you’re confident in what you know and vocal about what you don’t. You will always be a student to something or someone. Take the opportunity to acquire knowledge and perfect your craft seriously. You’ve got this!