There comes a time in every writer’s life when they feel as if they’re at their wit’s end. Whether a case of writer’s block or just a pure lack of motivation and inspiration, you just start to wonder whether you’ve chosen the right path. But of course, as a million people have said, follow your dreams and do what you’re passionate about. And for writers, that leaves open a wide, cavernous gorge of options. From journalism to editing to writing novels, English and journalism majors really have the world at their disposal. But finding your niche may prove even harder. For me, it required a major (and minor) switch (at least three times). Who better to inspire us than New Girl’s Nick Miller, a college dropout turned bestselling novelist?
Read on to see exactly how Nick Miller convinced me to change my major:
1. “I’m becoming Ernest Hemingway. Ya idiots.”
I started college as a journalism major at the famed Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. While I enjoyed my classes and loved my down-to-earth professors, it didn’t feel right for me. I hated interviews, investigative writing and broadcast journalism. I’d known since childhood that I wanted a profession that involved writing, and in high school, after serving as editor-in-chief of the school paper for two years, it seemed only right to major in journalism. The summer after my first year at Walter Cronkite finished, I impulsively decided to change my major to English while sitting on a beach in Montenegro, despite the fear of the unknown. What would I do with an English degree? The final push to my impulsive decision? I decided to mimic Nick Miller’s own life decisions (although somewhat bleak at times). I wanted to publish a novel, and so did Nick. So why not become Ernest Hemingway (not including the PTSD, alcoholism, depression etc.)
2. “I’m not convinced I know how to read. I’ve just memorized a lot of words.”
While Nick may not seem like the best role model, his comedic, socially inept ways have charmed us all. After switching my major and starting English classes, I realized that I had a lot of reading to do. And then, I made the mistake of taking two literature classes simultaneously. I pride myself as a reader, someone who can read an entire 300-page novel in a day, as if in a trance. But I found myself struggling to even finish one for a class— I was reading two books at the same time for two different classes while juggling other classes and an internship. It shocked me that I hadn’t mixed the two, Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko and Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. In the end, it felt exactly as what Nick describes: like the memorization of many, many words.
3. “I’ve done things. I wrote half a book about zombies.”
During the school year, working on a novel while juggling classes and internships seemed impossible. Whenever I had time to myself, I didn’t even want to think about writing. Every year, during summer break, I told myself that I would finally finish one of my novels. What writer doesn’t have at least ten unfinished drafts of novels and ideas? This year, another summer passed, and I didn’t even open one file. I told myself I’ll do it next summer. The worst part? I tend to lose interest in or motivation for some of my novels, and they’re left to simmer on the backburner while I obsess over my newest idea. Which usually leads to half a book, as Nick eloquently explains.
4. “Guys, please let me hate myself and everything that I have created.”
To this day, the idea of reading my own work revolts me. I write, I edit and I finish with it. But something even more frustrating than reading my work? When family and friends ask to read it. That, on its own, seems like hell. Sometimes I’d rather that they never even so much as look at a copy, despite the fact that I value their opinion greatly. Like most writers, I have a love-hate relationship with my work. So, when a professor requires us to go back and edit a piece for our final project, it physically pains me to read it.
5. “Writers don’t read. We write.”
Reading and writing go hand in hand. Most writers start off as bookworms (much like myself) and stay that way their entire lives. But in Nick Miller’s case, it’s not true (have you ever seen him with a book once, in all seven seasons)? Many writers don’t enjoy reading, which seems counterproductive. One thing I’ve always struggled with and still do, lies in the world of recreational reading. While still a journalism student, I had all the time in the world to read. I read at least three books a month, on top of schoolwork and internships. Then, once I switched my major to English and ended up reading for school again like I was required in high school, I had no time to read the books that I actually wanted to read. And now they sit in colossal, teetering columns around my room, collecting dust while they wait for me to muster up the motivation to read them. One day!
Even though the path to changing my major seemed a little rocky, I think that I made the right decision. With Nick Miller’s help, I realized that not knowing what I wanted to study so early on was okay. In the end, I found my “niche” and figured out what I wanted to pursue. Even though we might regret it in the beginning, we always end up doing it again and finding ourselves on the right path. To quote Nick Miller once again, “Do your thing, girl!”