By: Sean Wesen '22
Whether you're a seasoned Rutgers student or an incoming freshman, the decision of what to major or minor in can be a stressful one, even if it's one you don't have to make for another few years. It’s a difficult balance between what you're good at, what's marketable, what's profitable, and what's fun. Perhaps you're in that situation right now and are researching the creative writing minor in hopes of finding your answer. If that's the case, while we can't make the decision for you, we would be happy to walk you through the creative writing minor to decide if it's the right fit for you.
1. Hone your craft.
For writers new and old, the creative writing minor is a great place to hone your craft, for a few reasons. The first is that the most important part of any writing is practice. Signing up for a creative writing class is the perfect way to find the motivation to put pen to paper and catch up on all the writing you've been wanting to do. Another way this minor makes you a better writer is through feedback. Being able to write is nice, but it doesn't mean much if there is no one to read it. Each creative writing class provides an opportunity to share your work with others and receive helpful (and respectful) constructive feedback on your work. The final reason is because our classes will give you a handful of different genres and mediums to experiment with in other to find your authorial voice. With classes that focus on fiction, YA fiction, nonfiction, essay-writing, poetry, television, screenwriting, and more, there are plenty of ways to experiment and find a genre that feels right.
2. Be part of a department that cares.
If you are looking for a program where you feel seen and cared for, then the creative writing minor is a good fit. It is easy to feel lost at such a large school, and other programs may tend to leave you feeling like just another student on an attendance list. In creative writing, classes are capped at a smaller size, and this allows you to get to know the instructor and fellow student writers and to build a community of readers, writers, and friends. It's a good program if you want to feel seen and valued for your passions.
3. Connect with well known writers.
Our department offers the wide range of events that allow you to meet other students and faculty while growing as a writer. One such event is the Inside the Writers House sessions, a candid online discussion with famous writers from all over the world as beloved Writers House instructor (and former bookstore owner) Alex Dawson talks craft (via video chat) with some of the year's hottest pen pushers. It is a nice window into the life of famous writers and serves to remind you that they're human too. No one starts as a famous writer, so this event allows you to see that anyone can make something and share it with the world.
You can also sign up for creative writing classes with world-renowned writers such as Mark Doty, Joyce Carol Oates, and Evie Shockley. These faculty members can help to connect you to real world opportunities and may be willing to write recommendation letters for jobs or graduate school.
There is also the Writers at Rutgers series, an exchange between well-known writers of diverse backgrounds and the Rutgers students and faculty, and the Winter and Spring Creativity Showcases, a biannual event featuring the creative work of Rutgers English and creative writing students. All of these events allow you to make friends while improving your writing and make it so you can walk away from college with a writing support group who all want to see each other grow and succeed.
4. Spice up your job application.
While making lifelong friends is a large part of the college experience, you may also wonder what this minor can do for your post college plans. In that regard, the nice thing about a creative writing minor is that it sets you apart. When you are sending in job applications, it is nice to have something that stands out and makes you memorable. When you have the resume of a business major compared to the resume a business major and creative writing minor, it is easy to see which choice has more intrigue.
In addition, if you take classes like introduction to Multimedia, Digital Composition, or Documentary Filmmaking, you will be creating an online portfolio of work that illustrates your ability to create digital media.
5. Take classes that are fun, engaging, and allow you to explore your creativity.
This is your chance to take a class that engages the more creative parts of your brain, your chance to tell stories, create worlds, and make your voice heard. creative writing classes at rutgers are always an experience, and no two classes are the same. My YA Fiction class with Alex Dawson was drastically different from any class I had ever taken. We responded to out of the box story prompts, went on field trips to inspire our writing, and got to participate in a marathon reading of The Hobbit. This class and all other creative writing classes provide an opportunity to experience education in a way that is radically different from all other fields. If you want to guarantee a unique Rutgers experience, the creative writing minor is the way to go.
If you are looking for something to give you an edge or just looking for a place to call home, the creative writing department is a great place to exercise your creative passions. We would love for you to join us, but the most important thing to remember is that the choice is yours. Unlike high school, you are not going to be forced to specialize in a field that doesn’t feel right for you. You get to decide what you want to do, and we hope this article has helped you to make that decision.