Classes I Never Thought Would Apply to My Writing Career (But Do)

Photo credit: CollegeDegrees360
With finals two weeks away and projects and presentations and essays piling up like Mount Kilimanjaro in the back of my mind, I’ve been thinking, kind of understandably, about school.

Specifically, about those silly classes I thought totally didn’t apply to me and my writerly career goals until, um, they did.

So for fun, I thought I’d share with you some of those classes I totally thought were irrelevant and was totally wrong.

  • Those two HTML classes. I took an HTML class my senior year of high school just to fill an elective space, and my third year of college. By the latter class, I kind of knew it’d be good to pay attention, but in high school, I didn’t think learning html would matter to me at all.

    And boy, was I wrong.

    Between the blog here and tumblr, I open up HTML to fix formatting issues that are rage-inducing to try to fix in the WYSIWYG editor and save myself a ton of time. I know how to read it relatively well, and while I’m definitely not an expert, the little bit I do know has been completely invaluable through many years of blogging. The more you know. 

  • Those two dreaded public speaking classes. I took a public speaking class my senior year of high school and over the summer after my second year of college. I hated them both with a burning passion and I can’t begin to tell you how relieved I was when I walked out of there and thought thank god I’ll never have to do that again.

    Except, you know, I’ll have to do that plenty because authors it turns out don’t just write books. (And my first real life application will be over the summer at a conference in Chicago for those who are interested.) 

  • Every math class ever. This will never apply to my life, groaned high school Ava in every math class. And to be fair, most of that stuff really never will. But I mean, I guess math is helpful sometimes, like with budgeting writer stuff and figuring out statistics for a post and fine math, you win. 

  • All those video editing classes. Fun fact: before I switched my major to English, I went to school for three years for video-related fields. I have an Associates in Digital Media/Film, and I went to a fancy art school where I learned about Visual Effects. It was pretty cool.

    When I switched majors, though, I never really thought the film stuff I’d learned would come into play again. And then I started vlogging and I realized just how useful it was to know how to set up a camera and scene and edit stuff. Who knew?

  • Every design/color theory/art class ever. Unsurprisingly, another thing I did at Fancy Art School was take art classes! And I totally loved them and thought they were a blast, but again, I didn't really think much about how those classes would apply to my writing career.

    But they totally do apply! Because I've designed my own business cards, and this blog, and I'll probably be designing future promo materials and it's all very helpful to have those basics I learned in my head. 

What non-writing skills have you unexpectedly used in your writing career?

Twitter-sized bite:
What non-writing skills have you unexpectedly used in your writing career? Join the discussion on @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet)


Alyssa said...

I haven't really gone to enough classes to evaluate how many classes have been useful to my writing life (I await the day my geography classes become helpful), but I have to say, the hands-on experience in managing a blog taught me more useful things about HTML and CSS then I ever learned in IT class about ... making Google forms. Although on second thoughts, I did learn graphic design in school. Hmm.

Great post as usual, Ava -- many skills are indeed transferable!

Rachael said...

Great post! As a career university student (9 years;) I can totally relate. I too have found a surprising number of my classes have been beneficial to my writing!

Ava Jae said...

You're so welcome, Fida! And that's really interesting! Who knew microcomputers could apply to writing stuff? :)

Ava Jae said...

Oh man, I've learned so much from the blog with hands-on stuff! Like, a ridiculous amount. But it definitely helped in the beginning to have some knowledge of HTML so it didn't look like gobbedlygook when I first opened up the HTML on a post. :)

And yes! Graphic design is totally useful for author-ish stuff. And blogging stuff. And promo stuff in general.

Thanks for sharing, Alyssa!

Ava Jae said...

Thanks, Rachael! It's pretty amazing how many classes that you take thinking you're just fulfilling a requirement can actually be super useful in one way or another with writing things. :)

John H said...

HTML is well-documented online, which is a good thing if you find you want to do something you haven't done before. has helped me out tremendously.

Heather said...

Probably the classes most conducive to writing have been my Game Design class and Film Studies. Both movies and video games heavily rely on a well-planned, realistic story to function (unless there are lots of explosions and naked people, in which case I guess people don't care?) and building my own video games and being asked to analyze the different similarities and differences in the movies we watched helped me pinpoint different ideas on constructing my own. So, there you go.

Ava Jae said...

You're welcome! ^_^

Ava Jae said...

That's so interesting! I can totally see how those would relate—my Film Studies classes tended to focus more on the filming itself, but you're totally right that the same themes and the core of the story is the same for all three.

David Tucker said...

I usually have the problem that all my characters are interesting to me and i want to show all the views. xD

Ava Jae said...

Heh, well that's a different problem. Definitely important to only stick to the characters that are absolutely necessary to tell the story (which, sometimes, can be hard to choose).

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