I’m an English major, but at the same time I’m not. English majors, at my university, take courses in literature and writing to be well-versed in all things English. However, I am a professional writing major—with a creative writing minor—and we take similar courses but focus more so on writing.
“What is ‘professional writing’?” This is a question I hear often. Well, “this major prepares students for careers in a variety of writing fields, including technical and scientific communication, business communication, editing and publishing, journalism, and public relations,” (www.uwplatt.edu/english/academic-programs). In other words, it’s the major for an English major who wants to become a writer of sorts.
We professional writing types are required to take English Literature, American Literature, and one additional literature course. We need to have at least one writing internship taken for credit. Also, it is required to take multiple writing courses that can include any of the following: Introduction to Creative Writing, Poetry Writing, Technical Writing, Fiction Writing, Creative Nonfiction Writing, Advanced Writing, Magazine Writing and Editing, Basic Newswriting and Reporting, Applied Communications, and Editing for Print. We are also required to take a few linguistic courses which include Introduction to Linguistics, Sociolinguistics, Language and Culture, Grammar in Context, and History and Theory of Rhetoric. Among these requirements, all English majors (professional writing included) have to take an additional two semesters of a foreign language than the general education requirement, and we have to have a couple philosophy courses.
The creative writing courses (Introduction, Poetry, Fiction, and Advanced) are workshop based classes and are my favorite part of being a professional writing major. We are given prompts to write on each week, and we workshop our pieces in class with the other students. For the last three semesters I have had the opportunity to receive and provide feedback from/to my peers, which has led to the improvement of my own writing and my communication skills.
All of the literature, writing, and linguistic classes are equally challenging and interesting. I have wonderful professors who are successful in their fields and have travelled the world to share their cultural views. My professors have built curriculums to challenge their students to expand their comfort zone past its current boundary. They also want nothing more than to watch their students become successful, and they prove this by working with us individually, guiding us to our niche in the writing world.
It took me a long time to figure out where my niche would be. I originally chose to attend this university for secondary English education. I thought I was going to be a teacher because I was one of those people that thought that was all you could do with an English degree.
However, I was wrong in thinking it was what I wanted to do with my life. I sat down with one of my professors one day and she told me all the other options I had available to me. She told me about the professional writing major our campus provides and the careers I could go in to with it. That’s when I decided I wanted to become a publisher and writer. The day after I talked with my professor, I went and changed my major to professional writing with a minor in creative writing.
Note: I am not degrading those who are English teachers or going to be. I love the vast majority of the English teachers/professors I have encountered in my life. I applaud you and wish there were more of you in this world! I am simply stating, this was not what I was meant to do in life.
**All major requirements taken from: http://www.uwplatt.edu/english/english-majorminor-requirements
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kelsey (aka: Kay) Bigelow is a 22-year-old junior working towards her Bachelor’s degree in Professional Writing, with a Creative Writing minor, and she will be working towards her Master’s degree immediately following. Kelsey hopes to become a publisher of poetry and fiction. Outside of blogging at My Gibberish (organizedgibberish.blogspot.com) and being a student, she works as a writing consultant and as the Assistant Editor of Stylus: An Anthology of Freshmen Writing published by her university.