Any professional Writers here? I need to drain your brain starting with one first question...

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 24, 2011 4:12 AM GMT
    What was your college major? I'm choosing English but, am I naive about that?
  • BardBear

    Posts: 533

    Mar 24, 2011 12:35 PM GMT
    I'm a full-fledged author, several times over. But here's the rub, friend, my majors were Speech/Comm, Secondary Education and Education of the Hearing Impaired. My Master's was Special Education.

    In other words, do what you want--the writing happens if you're into it. My friend was a Journalism major and he writes less than I do. I'm constantly making submissions and looking for work, whilst teaching. Him? He's just constantly working on finding a job.

    Does that make sense?

    PM me for more details.

    Peace,
    Bardy
  • barracuda68

    Posts: 66

    Mar 24, 2011 12:42 PM GMT
    I have a BSc in Anatomy (!) and a Masters in Journalism.

    I'd suggest you major in something else you're interested and minor in English or some other writing-related area. It'll make you a much more well-rounded writer and you'll stand out compared to all the other writers with English majors.

    My 2 cents.
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    Mar 24, 2011 12:44 PM GMT
    There's no right way or wrong way to be a writer. That's one of the challenges and one of the cool things about it: your path must be a derived one; there's no received path to doing it.
  • LJay

    Posts: 11612

    Mar 24, 2011 12:45 PM GMT
    Bardy, I think you make sense. College is not really a training school for writers or anyone else. It is a place to explore knowledge and to learn how to further your capabilities to learn. The way to learn to write is to write and to learn self citicism. It's hard work.
  • alphatop

    Posts: 1955

    Mar 24, 2011 1:53 PM GMT
    I agree with some of the guys that posted above me...To be a writer is a god given gift, and not something you can easily learn in the school/college. Challenge yourself and dare to go where no one has gone before you.
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    Mar 24, 2011 3:13 PM GMT
    I major in journalism. If you have any interest in razor-sharp linguistic accuracy and efficiency I'd suggest learning more about that. You might be surprised how helpful in writing for any medium it is to know where and when to trim the fat.
  • tazzari

    Posts: 2937

    Mar 24, 2011 3:41 PM GMT
    I've had three books published (one translated into Russian) and have written more magazine articles than I can count. And I majored in German. If your writing is any good, it's because you are interested in something, and have something to say - not because you learned how to do it in college.

    A young friend of mine has recently published his first novel. It's good, but the next one will be better, because he's lived more and written more.

    Major in what catches your interest, do interesting stuff, and write lots. Henry James said the "secret" to writing is to keep the pot boiling. Good advice!
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    Mar 24, 2011 3:52 PM GMT
    UPRYTE saidWhat was your college major? I'm choosing English but, am I naive about that?

    What are your career goals? If a writer, what kind of writer? Journalism, technical, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, playwright, lyricist?

    There's was a Billy Crystal movie farce some years ago, called Throw Momma From the Train, in which Crystal's character teaches creative writing to adults. And one of the phrases he keeps using with his students is "a writer writes always," in the same sense that an artistic painter paints always.

    You learn by doing & practice, as much and as often as you can. The more you do, the better you should get, if you have the basic talent. "Book learning" can certainly help, especially regarding the technical aspects of grammar and for style guides. And reading the work of others may give you good ideas and models to follow. But you simply have to be writing all the time, in my view, as Crystal said in the movie. (Part of his character's problem was that he didn't follow his own advice as a writer)

    And thanks to the wonder of computer word processing, which I've been using at home since 1983, the words are plastic and easy to rearrange, unlike handwriting on paper or when we used a typewriter. Plus I always have several writing projects going at once, stored on the computer. I do a little on one, then leave it untouched for a while, even months, while I work on another. I know I can always come back to them when I'm ready, for what often appears to me to be a "fresh" reading giving me new ideas.

    At the same time, I use online social sites like this one to hone my quick writing skills, this little ( icon_rolleyes.gif ) post banged out almost like dictation, with no offline massaging of it at all. (Though I do confess to using a live spell checker, but not one for grammar).

    BTW, my degrees include Speech, Theatre, Broadcasting, History and Social Studies. I would never consider an English degree, because it's really not in demand these days (I also used to be a college academic advisor to non-traditional older students such as yourself, who actually do much better on average than traditional college students).

    You can take English composition courses as electives, and get everything you need that way without making it your major. Plus you'll get some basic English course(s) as part of your required undergraduate Generals, which is all you really need, plus of course some talent on your part. Good luck!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 24, 2011 4:34 PM GMT
    A good writer writes.

    A good writer also reads.

    Don't forget that it's not just about developing your writing style and learning to channel your experiences into quality writing. Becoming a writer is also about developing a reader's "ear," so to speak, and understanding what makes something good or bad.

    No matter what you major in, read. Read a lot. Read in the genre, style or field in which you think you want to be writing and start to craft a reader's perspective of what is quality and why. Read outside your area, because good writing is good writing, no matter the genre.



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    Mar 24, 2011 5:08 PM GMT
    You know what, I think you guys changed my mind about majoring in English. I am going to major in Music and minor in English. THANKS SO MUCH!!! I would regret not doing that my entire life when music is what I followed the most and followed first in life. I've just been afraid cause I know how hard it is to get a teaching job these days and there's probably more a demand for an English teacher than a music teacher. But the principle of the thing is that I follow a path through college that describes me rather than describes what I might have to become if I don't get the job I want.
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    Mar 24, 2011 5:12 PM GMT
    Let me put it this way... I went to school the first time to become a Graphics Technician because I was already working in a printing factory at the time. This was 18 years ago and I have hated working for the field ever since. I can't make the same mistake twice.
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    Mar 24, 2011 5:18 PM GMT
    majoring in music isn't advisable unless you truly want to learn the theory of music...majoring is music is far far less about playing the instrument rather than learning the theories of music.

    i was suppose to go to conservatory for saxophone and study music and performance...you can easily minor in music, and take some electives to learn what you wish about music. doing the music major will strap you down to information you truly don't need/care about etc...

    and the worst part about music is...everyone out does you from high school because most theory can be conceptualized through advanced performance
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    Mar 24, 2011 5:23 PM GMT
    jayyp15 saidmajoring in music isn't advisable unless you truly want to learn the theory of music...majoring is music is far far less about playing the instrument rather than learning the theories of music.

    i was suppose to go to conservatory for saxophone and study music and performance...you can easily minor in music, and take some electives to learn what you wish about music. doing the music major will strap you down to information you truly don't need/care about etc...

    and the worst part about music is...everyone out does you from high school because most theory can be conceptualized through advanced performance


    The college I go to has the largest selection of music classes than any other community college in California. They have recording, MIDI, all the instruments... GOOD FUCKING STUFF!!! I could be a professional before even moving onto a State college. I know it avails me NOTHING to do this but, damnit I really wanna learn EVERYTHING about this thing... Even music theory. So much about it I probably do take for granted when I would be a happier person knowing where and why music always stood the strongest by my side.
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    Mar 24, 2011 5:53 PM GMT
    UPRYTE saidYou know what, I think you guys changed my mind about majoring in English. I am going to major in Music and minor in English. THANKS SO MUCH!!! I would regret not doing that my entire life when music is what I followed the most and followed first in life. I've just been afraid cause I know how hard it is to get a teaching job these days and there's probably more a demand for an English teacher than a music teacher. But the principle of the thing is that I follow a path through college that describes me rather than describes what I might have to become if I don't get the job I want.

    There is NO demand for an English teacher. Social studies, perhaps. Science & math, usually, since not too many do it. A very close friend of ours will be getting his PhD in Music this May, which he teaches (we'll attend his "hooding"), his field being choral.

    For a salary that, adjusted for inflation, I was getting as an Army Lieutenant in my 20s, nearly 40 years ago. And he's at real risk for elimination under increasingly Draconian budget cuts from our Florida Republican Governor. If his partner wasn't a successful local realtor I know he'd want to teach college in New England in a heartbeat, where he was born, and keeps a home.

    Education usually doesn't pay very well, though I found it personally rewarding when I tried my hand at it (but then I wasn't dependent upon my teacher's income). Sounds like you have a creative urge, not unusual for a gay man.

    Maybe it's popular music for you, and like Cole Porter, your co-interest in writing will make you your own best lyricist. Stephen Sondheim did it, too. I'm actually a rather good lyricist ( icon_redface.gif ), I just haven't found the composer with whom to collaborate. icon_sad.gif
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    Mar 24, 2011 6:24 PM GMT
    I've been a lyricist since the age of 8... Here is a sample I wrote about 11 years ago while living on the streets and yes I wrote the music too:

    Seven

    Pearl gates will never open
    these skies with hinges broken
    No candlelight that once gave
    the vestige from this empty grave

    No statue like the one left bleeding
    If God should strike the lies I’m reading

    I've known since the age of seven
    it's not my Mother's darker side
    Raven fell from heaven
    for this spirit that never died

    I've known since the age of seven
    I can't blame my Father's pride
    Sand dollar bills cost me brethren
    But, I was too young to decide

    I've tried to give up and not let go
    the seeds that I could never sow
    Footprints in the sand wash away
    even on their way to Sunday

    No statue like the one left bleeding
    If God should strike the lies I’m reading

    I've known since the age of seven
    it's not my Mother's darker side
    Raven fell from heaven
    for this spirit that never died

    I've known since the age of seven
    I can't blame my Father's pride
    Sand dollar bills cost me brethren
    But, I was too young to decide

    By Stuart Lanning Jr.
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    Mar 24, 2011 6:24 PM GMT
    political science, history, business, and currently finishing architecture
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    Mar 24, 2011 6:28 PM GMT
    Here is another I wrote for a little brother of mine that overdosed on Heroine in 2006... I played this to his Mom while I was literally in the hospital in 2008 going through chemotherapy for stage three Testicular cancer:

    Breathe

    Maybe Grandfather clock never told the time
    We either hear the pendulum or the nursery rhyme
    You left the world so young, and too satisfied
    Now your child grows to ask why the seagulls cry?

    It's hard to believe and harder to grieve
    There's no place where they fit in
    Wish you could breathe, wish you could breathe
    wish you could breathe again
    You were deceived by the web she weaved
    When you needed a heroin
    Wish you could breathe, wish you could breathe
    wish you could breathe again

    Found you at the bus stop beneath the pouring rain
    Did you know the weather wouldn't always be the same?
    Messages in a bottle sound like notes upon this shore
    The same pirates treasure buried once before

    It's hard to believe and harder to grieve
    There's no place where they fit in
    Wish you could breathe, wish you could breathe
    wish you could breathe again
    You were decieved by the web she weaved
    When you needed a heroin
    Wish you could breathe, wish you could breathe
    wish you could breathe again

    Written in memory of Tyeson Collester
    By Stuart Lanning Jr.
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    Mar 24, 2011 6:31 PM GMT
    Here is another I wrote for a very old woman that was pushing a shopping cart down the streets of Skid Row Los Angeles... I never saw anything so strong:

    Topaz

    There you were with wine stains upon the clay
    I believe the north star has brought you to LA
    When we outgrow shadows with a truth we never told
    I believe in this world silver shines a lot like gold

    Because it's not what one has
    Where there’s blue there's topaz

    Here you are now with the ocean inside a shell
    I believe every wave is the greatest love you've ever felt
    We already are the person we always longed to be
    I believe like a child in tides of letters spelling sea

    Because it's not what one has
    Where there’s blue there's topaz

    By Stuart Lanning Jr.
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    Mar 24, 2011 6:37 PM GMT
    Today I was walking to Triangle Square and there was this extremely old man that took literally 30 minutes to cross a major highway leaning on a walker. I never saw anything so frightening in my life and he stood in the middle of the road while the green light allowed everyone to threaten his life this morning. I will write a song about him too...
  • TrentGrad

    Posts: 1541

    Mar 24, 2011 6:47 PM GMT
    Listen, if Stephanie Meyer could author a best selling series of books, obviously education has little to do with whether you have what it takes to be a writer!

    Do what you want to do with your education, and if you want to be a writer, and you have what it takes (and I'd argue what it takes is discipline), it will happen for you!
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    Mar 24, 2011 6:48 PM GMT
    Still in college, major in Screenwriting and Business management.
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    Mar 24, 2011 6:55 PM GMT
    i'm just warning you -- music theory can be harder than calculus for even the most advanced of minds
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    Mar 24, 2011 8:18 PM GMT
    jayyp15 saidi'm just warning you -- music theory can be harder than calculus for even the most advanced of minds


    I have so far learned that in music there comes a time when it breaks all the rules of math... I hate math so it should suite me fine to learn the flexible Science of sound.
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    Mar 24, 2011 10:52 PM GMT
    AntoNomad saidI agree with some of the guys that posted above me...To be a writer is a god given gift, and not something you can easily learn in the school/college. Challenge yourself and dare to go where no one has gone before you.


    Sorry but I disagree. I was totally crap at school, but writing was something I enjoyed doing. So what did I do?
    Well I read, read and kept on reading. Through this I expanded my vocabulary and gradually came to know how to work with words.

    As I have stated so recently in another thread, a commercial writer who was also a friend of mine, asked me to write a treatise on why I believe the Bible as I do, on the wake of Richard Dawkins then newly released hard-cover book, The God Delusion. After studying my work and correcting not a few grammar errors (a throwback from my schooldays) his verdict on it was that I could easily pass as a university graduate. He talked about publication, but I declined on that one, not having enough confidence and fear of rejection. He then asked me if he can produce a copy, have me sign it, to keep for himself. He also produced a few more copies, which were given away for keeps.

    But it's thanks to the Internet which has opened the door for writing and publishing, including here at RealJock.

    If you are interested in reading my recent blogs, you can go to

    http://sauna-nut.blogspot.com

    (And here you can find out my real name too, as I publish under my real name).

    The point of this post was to differentiate between having a desire to write and having a God-given ability, something which is not only different, but a slight against slower learners like myself.