If you had asked me two years ago what I wanted to do for a career, I would have said I wanted to go into the social sciences field. I took a sociology class during my first semester of college and it captured my interest in studying people and society. I still had an interest in fine art, my original degree plan, but I didn’t know what would be the best choice for the future. All I knew for sure is I didn’t want a career that was heavy on math or English. Fast forward two years and here I am studying to be a full-time writer.
English and I have a love-hate affair that started in elementary school. I was certainly a below average writer and my grades reflected this. By the time I was out of elementary school, I hated writing in any form or fashion. Essay writing made me feel like I was going to vomit and pass out. My fear of writing made it nearly impossible to improve what I did know. I could do fine on any kind of test other than writing.
Even though I loathed writing in a school setting, I enjoyed writing fictional stories. But even there my fear followed me. Everything I wrote went into the not-good-enough pile and was thrown away. Having people read my writing,even proof reading, was a nerve wracking experience.
When I got to college and took my placement test, I barely passed the writing section. I took English 1301 and made the conscious, though pessimistic, decision to improve. Much to my surprise, my writing improved. In that class and the classes after it I continued to get good grades on my essays. I still didn’t like writing and avoided editing when possible.
I was happy that I could make good grades if I tried, but that didn’t mean I was going to rush out and become an English major. I regarded writing like making my bed: I’m good at it and it looks pretty,but I don’t enjoy the task. My life-changing moment came when I got my final paper back in philosophy class. The professor was impressed with my writing! That had never happened before; I was in shock.
Over the summer I did some evaluating and decided communications would be a better major for me than fine arts. At first I wondered if I was making a mistake majoring in something I had a love-hate relationship with, but the more I thought about it, I realized writing is like learning to ride a bike. Writing is a skill that has to be learned and not some innate ability some people just have. I still struggle to compose sentences and reach word counts, but I don’t panic at the mention of an essay anymore. When I write fiction now, no matter how bad I think it is, I put it in a folder and come back later to read it.Nine times out of ten, it’s not as bad as I thought.