As a creative writing major you’re bound to get questions from people who just don’t understand it—maybe adults, kids in more “practical” majors, or friends who are with you for the college application journey in high school. These conversations can be tricky to navigate and frustrating to deal with, but I’ve got potential questions and responses covered. Responding in similar ways will help you earn the respect of your questioner, prevent any further challenges to your major and keep you in a peaceful state of mind.
Question 1: “So what are you gonna do with that degree?”
Response 1: you could tell the truth. If you’ve had a career plan from the start, you could elaborate. For example, I’ve wanted to write for The New York Times since middle school. When I get this question I find that the best thing to do is talk about my life plan in minimal detail. Always be humble about your hopes and dreams, but let the questioner know that yes—you definitely do have hopes and dreams. And they’re awesome.
Telling the truth could also involve saying that your hopes and dreams are a bit murky—and that’s okay. You could simply tell your questioner that you love creative writing for any number of reasons: because it is challenging, because you have to get your thoughts down on paper, because it makes you feel alive. Your passion for your craft can awe your questioner into silence. But if not…
Question 2: “You know the odds of that happening are one in a million, right?”
Response 2: acknowledge that yes, you know that. There aren’t too many New York Times bureau chiefs in the world, but with a little luck and a lot of hard work, you can be one of them. If that’s what you want, don’t let someone else’s opinion sway you. Saying “I’ll be that one in a million” is a powerful way to let the questioner know that you’re down to beat the odds in your field. Your questioner does have a point, after all. Creative writing is often thought of as a field in which it might be difficult to walk from college into a job. Acknowledging this fact—and that you won’t let it be a factor in your life—is a trick called concession that may prevent this next question.
Question 3: “So what if that doesn’t work out? Do you have a backup career?”
Response 3: be honest. If you have a backup plan, tell the questioner about it. In my experience backup plans are great to have in case your original plan doesn’t work out ten years from now. Life never happens the way you expect it to—that is probably my biggest tip for answering these questions, and for your daily life. Never put too much stake into what you think is going to happen. Never put too much stake in other people. Put the most effort into yourself, your dedication to improving your craft, and not knowing what’s gonna happen. Anything could happen, and your backup plan could wind up being your dream job.
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