I’ve recently been accepted into the college of my choice, and I really want to write for a living, preferrably screenplays or novels, something with artistic substance, but with some commercial value. What should I do in college to prep for this?
Dear Dreaming Big,
My best advice for you is find a double major, quick! Like any artistic field, writing is a tough, demoralizing mistress. Most times your work, if it is truly good, won’t be given value by the masses until long after you’re dead, or at least too old to cash in a celebrity status. This isn’t a call to off yourself after you publish something in order to gain recognition. Critics can see that kind of cheap publicity a mile away, and won’t regard you at all, unless to call you a hack.
Unless you have fantastic networking capabilities and relatives in the publishing industry that will give you a book offer for your birthday, chances are you will have to work hard for many years to get to the point of writing for a living. During that time a man/woman has to eat, so by double majoring in something such as Communications or Business or Education or whatever you may see yourself doing besides writing, you will have a safetly net. Please don’t choose something like Music or Drama. One tough artistic longing is plenty.
Of course, this will mean that when you graduate and find a steady job, you will have to write after work, which can be tiring, but that is the choice you make with artistic longing: either you write, not make money, and have a tough time, or you work, write, and have a tough time. Personally, I’d rather build slowly and make ends meet.
You could always go the extreme commercial route and write self help books, but then I doubt that was your intention when you started dreaming about being a writer. But what do I know. I’m just an owl.