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Why getting a Masters in English was my best investment

If anyone asks, I do know that no one really cares that I have a Master’s Degree in English. Yes, it’s an interesting talking point and theoretically, I *should* have been paid more at my last day job because I had it, but that never happened. Not that it mattered. My Master’s Degree didn’t really make me any better at the job than any of my co-workers.

My Master’s Degree would not help me get a job any more than a Bachelor’s would (except for teaching at a community college but I don’t have any teaching experience, so that’s out). My Master’s Degree gets me a *little* attention for potential editing clients, but since most of them are all indie authors all perfectly happy to operate outside of the traditional path, an advanced degree is not a must-have.

Sometimes I look at the total in school loans I still have due and think, “Man, that was a lot of money to spend on something no one cares about.” It seems illogical. Impractical.

But most of the time, even if I’m in the minority of thinking this, I believe that getting a Master’s Degree in English was my best investment.

Here’s why: I think that my experience in graduate school taught me the critical thinking, problem-solving and writing skills that have allowed me to build my blog and pursue my own path.

Hiring English majors seems like an easy choice for any industry. As I mentioned in a recent interview, “Let’s be honest. People are idiots. If you can write with proper spelling and grammar you are already ahead of a giant portion of America. If you can ALSO think critically (about a problem, text, etc) you’re doing even better.”

I got a few questions on social media about this, that I thought you all might be interested in:

What skills did you learn in traditional schooling that applies well to your non traditional career path?

Thinking. No, seriously. Graduate school in particular taught me how to think critically, how to examine all aspects of a problem, articulate the holes or flaws and come up with solutions. These are skills that anyone could use, but solo entrepreneurs in particular.

Would you recommend other bloggers getting a Masters?

Nope. Not unless you have a couple years of time to kill and someone else is paying for it. If you’re smart enough to get a graduate degree, you are also smart enough to teach yourself this stuff without going $30,000+ into debt.

Want to understand people? Read literary fiction. I feel like I have gleaned so many life lessons just from the Anne of Green Gables series.

Was it hard to shake off the academic dust from your subsequent writing?

Yes, ish? Since I had been blogging (read: casual writing) for years I think I had a pretty good balance away from the strict, formal academic writing. It’s nice, actually, that I learned about having a thesis, and making the subsequent paragraphs support that thesis. Not all that different from writing a sales page, actually.

So, yes, I know that getting a Master’s Degree in English and then following my current career path may not have been the most practical choice to most people, I still think that it was a solid investment. My full experience in college and how I feel about having a graduate degree in English is detailed more in this interview here.

Emily is collecting interviews from English majors, talking about how their degree has helped their current career. Check them out here.

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in FIND YOUR GREAT WORK, resources, writing

Writing resources

Since I started writing FOR REAL and committing to it, I’ve been collecting more writing tips from here and there.

NaNoWriMo begins on Saturday — I won’t be participating, personally. I will be revising my current work-in-progress instead. But many of these resources will still help me out and hopefully they can help you too! Use these for your scrapbook journaling, your blogging, your Week in the Life, your future-book-writing… anything!

And, finally, a full YouTube playlist from Dan Wells (of the Writing Excuses podcast)

P.S. For those of you keeping track, I decided last week that I was as close to done with my rough draft as I was going to get. I need to give my brain some distance. I tend to under-write, so I’m taking this week “off” and will begin with a heavy revision pass (probably adding another 20-30,000 words) on November 1.

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in resources, writing

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Giveaway: Catch-up with Project Life

online workshop Catch Up with Project LifeI literally have not done ANY memory keeping in 2014, except 30 Days of Lists.

Granted, I have been doing other things, but I KNOW I will be sad if I don’t complete something else this year. I have some great photos and some great adventures, and our Team Schubert story this year is pretty special.

That all needs to be recorded.

THANK GOODNESS my friend Megan (and Annette and Trisha) have created this Catch Up with Project Life class for Big Picture Classes!

I’m taking this class — begins October 30 — and hopefully will have some thing to show for my 2014. The pre-class material has been super helpful so far. There are THREE challenges already, and the class has not even started yet.

I added 1-hour every day to my calendar during these 3 weeks to get all caught up.

I hope you can join me!

Catch Up with Project Life: Progress, Process, and Productivity for Pocket-Page Scrapbookers

Taught by Annette Haring, Megan Anderson, Trisha Harrison

3-week guided workshop • Starts October 30, 2014

Get over the guilt of feeling perpetually behind! Catch Up with Project Life will reconnect you to feelings of accomplishment and gratitude—both for the hobby you love and your life in general. Instructors Annette, Megan, and Trish are here to help you tackle common trouble areas, so you can make real progress with your Project Life albums.

After three weeks of inspiration and interaction from your three talented hosts, you’ll walk away with:

  • Finished layouts that fill in the missing gaps in your albums
  • Photos printed and organized, ready for use in your projects
  • Photo management ideas to keep you productive long term
  • An organized workspace to help you get more from your creative time

Not everyone approaches pocket-style scrapbooking the same way. But no matter what approach you take, you’ll learn a ton and have a ball in Catch Up with Project Life!

workshop

Good news! I have a seat in the class to giveaway! So you can join me!

Enter below — or grab your seat now and get started on the pre-class challanges!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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in giveaway, memory keeping, TELL YOUR STORY

L&R Book ClubOur last book of 2014!

I thought since so many of us are memory keepers AND since NaNoWriMo begins in November, this would be a great selection.

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: How I learned to live a better story by Donald Miller

Blurb from Amazon:

After writing a successful memoir, Donald Miller’s life stalled. During what should have been the height of his success, he found himself unwilling to get out of bed, avoiding responsibility, even questioning the meaning of life. But when two movie producers proposed turning his memoir into a movie, he found himself launched into a new story filled with risk, possibility, beauty, and meaning.

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years chronicles Miller’s rare opportunity to edit his life into a great story, to reinvent himself so nobody shrugs their shoulders when the credits roll. Through heart-wrenching honesty and hilarious self-inspection, Donald Miller takes readers through the life that emerges when it turns from boring reality into meaningful narrative.

Miller goes from sleeping all day to riding his bike across America, from living in romantic daydreams to fearful encounters with love, from wasting his money to founding a nonprofit with a passionate cause. Guided by a host of outlandish but very real characters, Miller shows us how to get a second chance at life the first time around. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years is a rare celebration of the beauty of life.

I remember liking this book when I read it a couple years ago. I’m looking forward to the re-read!

Grab your copy on Amazon, the library, your personal bookshelf or your local bookstore. Reading begins November 1.

Note: This book is categorized under Religion and Christian Living on Amazon, but I don’t remember it being religiony at all. That categorization MAY just be because of who the author is, his previous book and the business decisions behind ranking in a small category. I could be wrong or misremembering of course. That said, you’ve been warned.

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in courage and fear, dreaming and planning, FIND YOUR GREAT WORK, great work, resources, TELL YOUR STORY

For the long run

Every day for the last few months, I’ve been getting up at 6am and writing fiction for 2+ hours (usually more). I have spent lord knows how much money on learning about fiction writing and the self-publishing industry.

I am not going to lie to you guys, it is HARD work. Just yesterday (Sunday), I wrote 2400+ words and it took me until about 1 in the afternoon. Today I woke up and I have to do the same thing all over again. And tomorrow. And on and on until I’m done. Because I have a deadline and I have ambition and I don’t want to embarrass myself I have standards.

I have yet to earn a single dime from all of this time and money invested.

But I don’t even care, because this is a long-term game. I am in it for the long run.

(I feel bad for my husband. I apologize to him regularly that I am spending all this time without a way to help pay the bills. Fortunately he understands and is totally behind this plan.)

Twyla Tharp has a chapter in The Creative Habit about doing creative work for the long run. Steven Pressfield breaks it down to just getting on base and worrying about it from there. Malcolm Gladwell talks about the 10,000 hours.

It doesn’t matter what you call it, but spending hours, blood, sweat, dollars, tears and love on projects that may not pay off for a long time is what helps us grow as people. Instant gratification is for 1-minute rice and microwave popcorn.

I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have at least the next 15 or 18 months of this planned. Who knows when it will pay off?

 What is your long-game project?

P.S. I was interviewed recently about my fiction.

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in courage and fear, dreaming and planning, FIND YOUR GREAT WORK, great work

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Memories and cravings triggered by fall

  • Scary movies and ghost hunting shows: I actually broke down this year and bought a ‘season pass’ to Ghost Adventures, Andrew will be recording the new season of Walking Dead at work, and we just immerse ourselves in the horror and thriller categories of Netflix.
  • cinnamon in my coffee: YES. Directly in the coffee pot with the grounds. So good. But special to fall.
  • cold mornings, hoodie sweatshirts and cardigans: love love love being cozy. I love when it is cold enough for layers.
  • Band of Brothers, LOTR appendices and Harry Potter: These are all ‘comfort’ movies, and for whatever reason I associate them with fall. I have lots and lots of photos to edit, so I’m hoping to relax with all of these over the next few weeks.
  • working from bed with the window open: We’ve got an enormous window in our bedroom, and with the weather cooler, this is the perfect place for me to spend all day. Laptop, coffee, cats and under the covers.
  • cats on my lap every second for the warmth: I run hot, and the cats have learned this. When it’s a little cold in the house I get piled upon.
  • apples and peanut butter: yum.

This is the time of year that the weather in SoCal shifts, and we get to keep our windows open all day and memories from previous falls pop into my head.

Fall is my very favorite time of year. I keep texting Andrew the weather forecasts with lots of exclamation points when the high is lower than 85 degrees! I get super giddy happy this time of year.

What is your favorite part about fall?

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in Amy

October is for realizations

For the last few years, October has been a time of reflection and realizations. I’m not totally clear why, but I think it comes from a mix of the weather changing (and my favorite season really making me super happy) contrasted against all of the build of frustration elsewhere. It’s hard to describe:

In October 2010 I realized that I want to do work that matters and my day job at the time wasn’t it. I got a phone call at home, 6 hours before I was supposed to be there, about a comma. Completely unnecessary and very frustrating.

In October 2011 I was told my work schedule would change to Sunday – Thursday against my will. That was the only time I have ever cried at work and was seriously depressed. I realized I wanted to be some place where I’m not taken for granted and merit means something

In October 2012 I got physically ill (severe headache, dizzy and nausea) and then nearly immediately better after I called out sick. It’s incredibly powerful when you recognize how something negative in your life is really affecting you.

In October 2013 I decided to quit my long-time personal blog Those Crazy Schuberts, for many reasons. I freed up several hours of my week, and relaxed some of my personal anxiety by making that decision.

This year, October 2014 …. Feels like a sea change. For both Andrew and I — this October is for realizations for Team Schubert.

As I mentioned yesterday, Andrew’s work schedule has been ridiculous this year and we are starting to see what our lives can look like once all this hard work pays off. He is getting recording clients from literally all over the world. A band was just here from Oregon, but earlier in the year a band from Toronto came out to work with Andrew and a band from France hired him to mix a song.

That, combined with my projected new career as a fiction writer is going to change the entire structure of our lives.

It’s still far away; we both still have a lot (a lot) of work to do to make this new life pay our bills, but we are on this path together. We are each fully behind each other’s individual goals, as we work toward a better life together.

Having someone like Andrew on my team, supporting me spending hours (and hours) every day writing with nothing yet to show for it is the best. Knowing how I can help him work toward his goal of being 100% freelance has changed so much about how I spend my days.

This October has been hard, but so awesome so far. Can’t wait to see what the next year brings!

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in Amy, courage and fear, dreaming and planning, FIND YOUR GREAT WORK, great work