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BWW Blog: What Do You Do with a B.A. in English?


BWW Blog: What Do You Do with a B.A. in English?

As an English major I learned about the craft of writing which provided a foundation for my playwriting. I spent four years in my undergrad analyzing the great American and British poets and prose writers. I got a B.A. in English Literature instead of Creative Writing, and at first after I graduated I was mad at myself for not taking more creative writing courses. That was until I realized how valuable the skills are that I gained from reading a bunch of literature. I wasn't sure what I was going to be doing with those skills after I graduated, but here I am four years later and using these skills everyday when I write.

It has taught me how to use my words to convey exactly what I want it to convey. I learned from reading the great writers how to choose the right way to say something in that moment. When I am writing a play I tend to overwrite a scene so it's nice to remember this tip about saying what needs to be said. It's simplistic, but it helps me better focus on the words that I am writing.

Being an English major also taught me how to handle criticism. Before I started college I was really sensitive to criticism especially about my writing. I eventually learned over the years how to take constructive criticism and actually apply that to what I was working on. It helped me gain tougher skin, and taught me that I was strong enough to handle the constant criticism that is thrown at you when you are a writer.

I learned like most undergrad students out there how to work on a deadline. Time management is such an important skill to have because whether you are in the workplace or trying to make it as an artist you have to know how to use your time wisely. Throughout my undergrad years I had to read what felt like thousands of pages a week and write tons of papers. I couldn't have done those things successfully if I didn't learn how to use my time effectively. I do procrastinate sometimes still, but I know now that I can work under a deadline and turn out sufficient work.

I had a great experience at the college I was at and all the professors I encountered along the way. They pushed me to be the best writer I could be even if I was only writing for them the millionth critical paper on "The Things They Carried". I'm grateful for my English Literature degree, but I will admit every once in awhile "What Do You with a B.A. in English?" from Avenue Q plays in my head and I wonder what I'm doing. Then I remember I'm making "a difference to the human race"!

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Monique Hebert is a playwright who is originally from Ohio but now resides in Seattle, Washington. She graduated with an English degree from Cleveland State (read more...)

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