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Serious Desi
05-29-2009, 11:22 PM
Iím in high school( Junior year) and Iím trying to decide what Iíd like to major in. (I know, it's early-sih)

Iíve come the conclusion that I want to major in Psychology. But Iíve always wanted to do art ( studio ) and Writing. ( creative)
I donít think you can actually be taught how to do the above things. :Shrug:( Can learn them though)

Anyways, I want some opinions on this and in another writer. Is it a good idea to minor or major in writing ?

Health_Geek
05-30-2009, 12:03 AM
A minor in writing has been very helpful for me! My major was in the health field as well, and the writing minor allowed me to explore writing disciplines in several areas. For example, I took scientific writing (which you will definitely find helpful in the psychology field), persuasive writing (helpful for everything), creative nonfiction (think of how fun your author bio will be to read!), and science fiction/fantasy. Depending on your program you can diversify or specialize, but I have to say that every writing class I've taken has strengthened my skills in both fiction and nonfiction writing. The added bonus is that the papers I've had to write for every other class have been a lot less stressful because I've learned to research and synthesize the information much better.

Best wishes!

mamaesme
05-30-2009, 12:30 AM
I'm going to be a sophomore in college next year, and this is my advice. Even if you don't minor/major in it, try and take a few classes in writing. Today, major tracks can pretty much be planned out (my business one is), but try and take a few fun classes.

Taking something you like can help keep you sane with those really hard classes (and insane professors). Just make sure to check out the teachers first. It's not worth having an insane teacher for what should be a fun class. (Personal experience talking here)

Health_Geek
05-30-2009, 12:32 AM
Taking something you like can help keep you sane with those really hard classes (and insane professors). Just make sure to check out the teachers first. It's not worth having an insane teacher for what should be a fun class. (Personal experience talking here)

I couldn't agree more!

Sage
05-30-2009, 12:43 AM
Half my friends were creative writing majors.

I started writing (though it was fanfiction, let's be honest) summer before senior year, when I was on campus a month before school started. They were supposed to have started their senior writing project that summer. I wrote a 25K novella in two weeks, and they had barely touched their projects all summer. As far as I know, none of them have gotten agents (I had one, albeit for only about a minute;) ), but I do know one of them has published some short stories.

She has been quite clear on how discouraged she was with the creative writing major as a spec fic writer. So if you decide to do a writing major, make sure it is at a school where there are actually professors and a curriculum that supports your type of writing. And if you decide to major in something else, that will be okay too :)

MaryMumsy
05-30-2009, 12:54 AM
Keep in mind that Psychology as a major qualifies you to ask "would you like fries with that?", unless you go on for at least a Master's degree. I know, because I have a BA in Psych. I also changed directions in my junior year and took all the necessary classes to sit for the CPA exam. That is what I have been doing for the last 30+ years. The Psych degree is helpful in dealing with people in any form of occupation, but won't be the way you make a living unless you get a graduate level degree.

MM

Sage
05-30-2009, 12:57 AM
Does it help you as an author, though, Mary? Like in dealing with your characters and their reactions throughout the novel?

MaryMumsy
05-30-2009, 02:12 AM
I'm working on narrative non-fiction, so I can't say that it helps that much. I really don't have any plans to get into fiction. I like doing research and ferreting out real details, but don't have any inspiration to use them in a novel. I do like reading historical fiction, though.

MM

dnic
05-30-2009, 11:16 AM
I'm a junior in college. My suggestion...don't be so quick to decide on what you want to major in yet. Take some psych, art and/or writing classes for your first year to check them out. They might or might not be what you expected. Depending on where you're going for college, even if you don't end up with them as your major and/or minor(s), sometimes you can still use them to fill in your GE requirements.

Personally, I was admitted as an econ major, but I also took enough psych classes to switch over if I wanted to since I'd always had an interest in it. I also took music classes for a double major in my sophomore year. So things can change, so it's a good idea to allow yourself some wiggle room. =]

(And yeah. I still write and draw on the side. And I probably will be taking art and writing classes in the future just for fun. I'm not exactly sure where the idea came that once you've declared a major, you can only take the classes associated with it...just because you're not working toward a degree on it, it doesn't mean that you can't branch out and try some classes out).

virtue_summer
05-30-2009, 11:32 AM
I definitely agree both to check out the creative writing teachers before signing up for their classes (I didn't do that and had a horendous professor in one class) and not to make up your mind about your major too fast. A lot of times your interests change. For instance, I discovered through some brilliant professors a love of history in college that I didn't have in high school.

Snowstorm
05-30-2009, 02:07 PM
I hope you didn't "settle" on psychology if your real interest/love is art and writing. I got the feeling of your settling from your comment: "I’ve come the conclusion that I want to major in Psychology. But I’ve always wanted to do art ( studio ) and Writing. ( creative)"

Life's too short to study something else other than your true interest. Yeah, you can be taught art and writing. After 24 years in the military, I got an art degree (with heavy creative writing on the side). I had NO experience in art and had only written nonfiction articles in the military. I feel in love with both during college.

Likely, you'll have to major/minor in English unless the college of your choice has a "Writing" program. At least you don't have to decide NOW, but keep reviewing the college program for degrees you really are interested in and want to pursue post-college.

Emily Winslow
05-30-2009, 05:17 PM
I majored in acting in college, in a very intense, elite program.

I learned a lot BUT it was actually pretty traumatizing. Having your creativity graded, especially when you're so young, can be...not so healthy and not so helpful.

If psychology interests you, and I do think it is a helpful background for writers, I say go for it.

But yes, don't settle. Study something you're passionate about. Anything that fascinates you will help you as a writer.

I got a masters degree in museum studies not to get a good job, but to support some historical research I was doing as background for a writing project.

ideagirl
05-30-2009, 09:49 PM
I’m in high school( Junior year) and I’m trying to decide what I’d like to major in. (I know, it's early-sih)

I’ve come the conclusion that I want to major in Psychology. But I’ve always wanted to do art ( studio ) and Writing. ( creative)
I don’t think you can actually be taught how to do the above things. :Shrug:( Can learn them though)

Anyways, I want some opinions on this and in another writer. Is it a good idea to minor or major in writing ?

Yes, absolutely, it's a good idea to major in writing. If you like writing and have a knack for it, there actually is a place for you in the world and in the job market. I guarantee you, you will be AMAZED at how many bad writers there are IN COLLEGE--lots of well-educated people are mediocre or even flat-out bad writers. When I was your age I wanted to be a writer, but I assumed I wasn't good enough. Why? Because I was reading Oscar Wilde and Shakespeare and tons of excellent modern writers and thinking, "Wow, I could never do anything this good"--and it never occurred to me, "Wait, what I'm reading is the final draft, the best, most attentively edited, most refined and wonderful possible version of what they wrote; when they started, the first draft probably sucked."

It was years before it really sank in that Wilde and Shakespeare and all the others wrote first drafts that weren't that great, and it was the long work of rewriting and rewriting and rewriting that ultimately made it great. (There's a myth that Kerouac wrote On the Road in 21 days, but in fact he worked on it for nearly a decade; what took him 21 days was typing up the second-to-last draft after that decade of work.) It also didn't occur to me for many years that it made no sense for me, at 17, to compare my writing to things that famous geniuses wrote when they were twice or three times my age. I was comparing my first or second drafts of stories written when I had no experience to the final draft of stories written by published writers with decades of experience under their belts--so of course I came to the false conclusion that I could never measure up.

Basically, reading great works of fiction, great essays, memoirs etc., is fabulous in terms of building your awareness of how language and stories work, but it's useless for giving you a perspective on yourself as a writer. It wasn't until I started an MFA in Creative Writing and became a TA for undergraduate writing courses (creative writing and freshman comp) that I discovered, "Wow, most people really don't have any knack for writing at all!" If I compared stuff I wrote at their age to the stuff my students wrote, then all of a sudden I realized I actually was very good at it. And I'm sure lots of them were better at [insert subject here: engineering, drawing, designing buildings, math, computer programming, etc.] than me; we all have different skills. But it makes no more sense to compare stories you write at 17 or 20 to great works of fiction than it does for a 17-year-old aspiring engineer to compare her science fair project to the Golden Gate Bridge. You've got to compare apples to apples: your early drafts at age 17 to the early drafts of other 17-year-olds, and so on. It's true that occasionally someone very young will write and publish a good book, but that's extraordinarily rare; most great writers were not yet great at that age.

I mention all this--the basic fact that writing well is a skill most people don't have, and it's something that you get better at with time and practice--just so I can point out that you actually can get better at it by taking classes, and you actually can get a job with it. I got a job as a grantwriter solely because I had the MFA in Creative Writing, and another one as a copywriter. Also, writing jobs can't be outsourced to the third world the way many other jobs can (e.g. software programming, accounting, etc.)--because writing jobs require native speakers of the right kind of English [e.g. American here, British over in Britain]. I strongly recommend that you get this book: http://www.danpink.com/wnm.html He argues quite convincingly that the way the economy is going, right-brain occupations like design, writing, psychotherapy and art are the jobs that will remain here in the US in the future, while left-brain jobs such as software engineering, accounting, etc. ship out to India.

As for taking classes, here's what I think: a person with a knack for writing or art can become extraordinarily good by taking writing or art classes. A person who doesn't have the knack--i.e. someone with average or below-average native talent--can become competent, but not extraordinarily good, by taking classes. Practice and intelligent feedback are excellent tools, and that's what classes give you. And, of course, getting a degree with a major or minor in writing or art also gives you some cred; the grantwriting job I mentioned earlier came to me because someone on this amazing NASA-funded science project decided they needed a writer to do their grant proposals, and happened to know I had an MFA. "Hey, you're a writer, right? Can you do this grant for us?" And voila.

I also completely agree with other posters that you should do what you love--life is too short to spend 40 hours a week working in a field you don't like. I just wanted to chime in with a different side of the pro-writing message.

ideagirl
05-30-2009, 10:06 PM
Likely, you'll have to major/minor in English unless the college of your choice has a "Writing" program.

But many colleges do have writing majors for undergrads. The U of Michigan and Carnegie Mellon U come to mind, and there are many others. So the OP may want to keep that in mind when applying to college: what college offers majors in ALL the areas he/she is interested in, so he/she can take good classes in all those areas and have the option of getting a degree in any of those areas?

Apart from being able to focus on what he/she is actually interested in, the other advantages to going to a school with an actual writing major are (1) a wider range of available classes in that area, (2) probably better teachers (i.e. ones who majored in writing themselves, instead of just English teachers who also teach a writing course or two), and (3) better credentials when you graduate (a WRITING degree gives you an advantage over an English degree when applying to any writing-intensive job).

gothicangel
05-30-2009, 10:15 PM
I'm two years into my Scottish Literature degree and have so far avoided the creative writing options like the plague (sorry for the cliche metaphor.)

Serious Desi
06-01-2009, 01:37 AM
Thanks :Hug2:.
I just want to....figure things out before I get to college. I don't have the money to stay in college an extra year to 'find' myself.

I think if I don't minor I'll take the advice and take a few writing classes...I do think I have a knack for writing, but I think everyone that majors in writing does.:Shrug:

adarkfox
06-01-2009, 06:25 AM
Iíve come the conclusion that I want to major in Psychology. But Iíve always wanted to do art ( studio ) and Writing. ( creative)
I donít think you can actually be taught how to do the above things. :Shrug:( Can learn them though)


You'd be surprised how much technical skills there are to be taught in the creative fields. (You paint a masterpiece if you never learned proportions, you can't be a great writer if your spelling and grammar is so horrid everyone runs from you.)

You have (at least) four years of college ahead of you. As a Freshman, start on your Gen-Eds and take some psych, studio arts, and writing classes to get your feet wet. Almost every two- and four-year colleges have some basic courses in those fields.

Seriously, how many of us started and stayed in the same major throughout college? Not as many as you'd think ;)

Cybernaught
06-01-2009, 07:22 AM
My program is a Bachelor of Literature with a Creative Writing concentration. The bulk of my classes are creative writing, but I have the opportunity to take a lot of classes outside of Literature and still get credit toward my degree. The program keeps us well rounded, which I like.

Don't put too much stress on yourself right now. Chances are you'll end up changing your major anyhow. I changed mine several times. If it wasn't for Financial Aid, I'd have entered college Undeclared.

Epiphany
06-01-2009, 09:46 AM
For my first two years of college I struggled with the idea of picking a major. I didn't know what I could do that would make both me and my parents happy. Finally I decided that I couldn't be happy unless I lived out my passion, and became an English major with an emphasis in creative writing.
One of the best decisions of my life.
The one thing you need to remember as as English major is to TAKE ADVANTAGE of everything your college gives you, such as office hours with creative writing professors. My last CW professor helped me with my query and gave me a major breakthrough, which lead me to getting three agents interested in my work. Attend as many out-of-class readings, workshops, and lectures as possible.
The writing workshops you take with your major are also fantastic. Not only do you get other students to critique your work, but you get to read other students' work, which will help you in the long run seeing how well your own writing is progressing alongside the writing of your peers.
If anything, I will stand by my belief that it is vital for you as a writer going through college to participate in these workshop classes if they are offered at your school. If you don't major in writing, do yourself a favor and take them as electives. You will learn SO MUCH.

Red_Dahlia
06-01-2009, 11:06 AM
I feel I should speak up from the "non-creative writing major" side of the fence.

I'm a business major. It was a tough decision for me at the time, and I went back and forth between majoring in something practical or in creative writing (my college actually has that major). In the end, I decided that writing doesn't pay much, so a practical major was a must. Now, I know that there are many people besides NYT bestsellers who are able to support themselves based off of writing, but they had to start from somewhere, selling books and short stories one at a time until they reached that point. In the meantime, they had to have actual jobs so that they could afford to live.

I figured the odds were high that I would end up working for some sort of corporation no matter what major I graduated with, and so I decided that if I went ahead and majored in a specific business field, I would be able to get a job in an area I would actually enjoy (I could never work in sales!). Then that job could help me afford my writing career.

I've been really happy with the choice I made. I've found that I like many of my classes more than I thought I would, with accounting being a notable exception. Most people who meet me automatically assume I'm an English major, though, which is kind of weird.

I would agree with the others who reccommended taking some English/writing courses, no matter what you choose for a major. The best and most influential class I've taken so far was World Literature. I haven't taken any of the actual writing classes though, but my school focuses on the literary writing and poetry, and I write genre fiction.

No matter what you decide to major in, rest assured you'll be able to find time to write. I wrote most of my WIP this past semester, I still had a life, and I still managed to get decent grades. It's definitely possible to manage everything, although I don't get much sleep. :)

SPMiller
06-01-2009, 11:49 AM
The few classes I took on the lit & writing side of things didn't do much good for me. Granted, I majored in computer science. Only when I arrived at AW did I finally figure out how to do this whole fiction thing.

It's also worth pointing out that I didn't produce much fiction other than what classes demanded. I had too many other things on my mind.

jennontheisland
06-01-2009, 05:12 PM
I always knew I wanted to write, but the idea of taking it in school... fleeting. I'm much too practical. I did environmental science first and now I'm doing engineering. Why? So that I have a good day job to support my writing habit.

You might want to get ahold of your school's alumni list and see how many of the creative writing grads are paying the bills with words.

BravoYankee
06-01-2009, 08:13 PM
I didn't know what I wanted to do when I entered college.

Became a history major as a sophomore, decided I wanted to teach senior year. Now, I'm in grad school for a Masters in Education and a teaching license simultaneously. The loans are expensive and the time annoying, but I've found writing both a relaxing endeavor from college, and my history degree very helpful for my writing.

A good combo

Libbie
06-01-2009, 09:37 PM
Psychology is a really cool field, from what I understand (by talking to my pals who majored in psych.) And a minor in English or in creative writing will help you a lot if you choose to work as a psychologist.

I agree that art and creative writing are things that one can learn only if one has the drive and the interest. However, I feel strongly that both art and writing can be learned quite successfully on one's own if one chooses to go that route. In other words, if you end up feeling overwhelmed or underfunded in college, don't despair. You can be very successfully self-educated in art and creative writing. While I don't have a novel published yet, I do have short stories published, and I do not have a college education. I'm also an avid artist, occasionally selling my work, and come from a family of self-educated professional artists. (I am including in my definition of "self-education," by the way, attending workshops.)

Now, about self-learning the technical aspects of writing I'm not sure. I can't diagram a sentence to save my soul and I have no clue what is a participle or a "to-be" verb. I'm sure it's quite possible to become a grammarian without a college education, but the question is, do you want to. ;)

So, pursue that psych degree! It will be awesome. And try for a creative minor, too. All education is good education. But if you keep up with the work load, don't worry that you'll never hack it as a writer. :)

Libbie
06-01-2009, 09:40 PM
Keep in mind that Psychology as a major qualifies you to ask "would you like fries with that?", unless you go on for at least a Master's degree. I know, because I have a BA in Psych.

True. If you add a lot of real-world experience with handling exotic animals to that degree, you can become a zoo keeper, which is how I know all my Psych-major friends. ;)

And I also agree with Snowstorm that life is too short to pursue an education and/or a career that doesn't fill you with joy. Really. You don't realize this yet at your age, but life is too short. Fill it with time spent doing the things you love to do. I couldn't afford college and couldn't qualify for financial aid, and didn't want to take on a lot of debt only to enter a career that doesn't pay well (zoo keeping.) So I didn't go to college, and I gave up on my dream of doing what I really wanted to do for nearly the entirety of my 20s. Then I realized how short life is (and how horrible it can be when you force yourself to do what you don't really want to do), so I went the hard route and started getting the experience I needed to become qualified in this profession. Without a degree, it was a much longer and more difficult path for me, but I'm finally doing what I love to do, and life feels SO GOOD! (Plus I get to hug cranes...see avatar pic.)

Also bear in mind that unless you want to be a lawyer or a doctor or something that requires a very specialized--very specialized--course of study, any degree will help you get a good job. These days, employers are looking for people who have gone to college and usually care very little whether their degree has anything to do with the job. They care much more that the person who has graduated from a university tends to be a critical thinker who is dedicated to getting the job done. I know zoo keepers who have degrees in art, economics, and Bible studies in addition to those psych majors. :) And I know a guy with an East Asian Studies degree who is the supervisor of stage shows on cruise ships.

So if you don't actually want to work in psychology or a closely related field, my suggestion is to major in what you love--art and creative writing--and be assured that these degrees will help you get a good job, no matter what it may be.

Libbie
06-01-2009, 09:54 PM
I think if I don't minor I'll take the advice and take a few writing classes...I do think I have a knack for writing, but I think everyone that majors in writing does.:Shrug:

Not everyone does, no. To wit: Stephenie Meyer.

Bubastes
06-01-2009, 10:00 PM
Also bear in mind that unless you want to be a lawyer or a doctor or something that requires a very specialized--very specialized--course of study, any degree will help you get a good job.

And even wanting to be a lawyer or a doctor doesn't require a specific field of study for undergrad. You can enter law school with ANY 4-year degree. For medical school, you can major in anything as long as you also fulfill the pre-med course work (I recall reading somewhere that a surprising number of med school students majored in. . .music!).

Cybernaught
06-02-2009, 12:57 AM
I attended a seminar last semester entitled, "What to do with a Lit Degree," and it was amazing to see the broad spectrum of careers recent grads have. One girl started as a Proofreader, then a Copywriter, and is now the head of advertising for Harrah's casino.

The degree will only get you so far. It's the skills you learn and how you apply them that makes all the difference.

The Lonely One
06-02-2009, 01:45 AM
I’m in high school( Junior year) and I’m trying to decide what I’d like to major in. (I know, it's early-sih)

I’ve come the conclusion that I want to major in Psychology. But I’ve always wanted to do art ( studio ) and Writing. ( creative)
I don’t think you can actually be taught how to do the above things. :Shrug:( Can learn them though)

Anyways, I want some opinions on this and in another writer. Is it a good idea to minor or major in writing ?

Define good idea.

It depends on what you want out of your degree. Money? You're better learning the craft yourself and getting a day job.

But the degree, sort of depending on where you get it, exposes you to individuals who are obsessed with the craft of writing, and you'll be forced to write and read intensively. I think it's one of the few environments that will foster you in that way. You're surrounded by those seeking enlightenment in one way or another, and you'll spend many hours each semester discussing WRITING.

No one discusses how they'll pay the electric bill this month in a creative writing class. Unless that's one of the student's protagonists problems they need to solve (think:The Pursuit of Happyness). And that's something you won't get anywhere else, in my opinion.

You may learn from published authors, as many are English professors. But you will also learn to take the information you gain and cut your own path. And that is also invaluable.

You can learn fiction on your own and with things like absolute write and other written resources and groups. But the college experience is a unique one. So. Like I said, what it all boils down to, is what you want out of your degree.