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.