Hey all, just a quick reminder, we are still having a Comedy Contest, the deadline for which is May 1st. We’ve got a few entries already and they look pretty solid, so whip out your banana peels and make some funny!
Right now we’re doing a Question of the Week Week to alleviate our backlog of Questions. Today’s question is from Anthony Panarelli
How important/beneficial is it to receive a higher education in writing, such as an M.A. or an M.F.A, or even PhD in say Creative Writing? Is it instrumental in your development or career? How many of you plan on pursuing a degree?
It’s not required at all. I do know some agents that automatically give an MFA in writing a higher degree of attention, but in the end, the writing is all that matters. There are high school students who get published becuase they are just damn good writers.
Now, that’s not to say an MFA might be instrumental to YOU in making the a connection or improving your writing. But dont go spend a ton of time and money thinking you have to.
I used to want to get an MFA in creative writing! Then I learned that it only gives you a clear advantage if you want to teach. Otherwise, you can learn most of what you need to be a writer by living life boldly, writing constantly, and reading widely. Oh – and a good writing group definitely helps! (That’s my opinion, of course, and I certainly don’t mean to diminish the value of anyone’s higher education!)
Definitely not that important. I toyed around with the idea for a while during my senior of college, but after I visited a very prestigious MFA program and met with their director, I realized it was NOT for me, and that I didn’t need to get my MFA to get published (despite what they might tell you). It seemed to me that a lot of the people who were applying were doing it either to be able to teach, or that they needed someone to force them to write. That’s not to say that MFA programs aren’t useful–I think they can be immensely helpful for certain kinds of people, and are great for gaining connections. But that’s all stuff that you can do on your own, too–through becoming involved in great writing groups, and networking.
It isn’t necessary at all! What really works is writing all the time, and being involved with a great writer’s group. I don’t think you need to spend all that money to improve your writing and get published. A lot of published authors don’t have degrees in creative writing! It is certainly useful, but I think it is more beneficial if you plan on teaching it. And a lot of what they teach you is readily available online and in books.
I’m not in a very good position to answer this question, but here’s how I made my decision to study what I will. A couple months ago I wanted to study Creative Writing in university, but I kept hearing things about how if you know how to write already and if you have the discipline, you don’t learn much. I’m also afraid of getting stuck in classes with people that are pretentious or look down upon the type of writing I do. If there’s anything I hate it’s snobs that read only classics so they can look smart (I know more than a few people determined enough to get through a book just so they can gloat about reading it.) Another thing I was afraid of is having the teachers or peers pressure me or try to conform me into a specific type of writing, and thereby take away my love for it. So I figured the next best thing would be history. I’ll be going to university next year for Medieval Studies and English (double major if all goes well).
My logic is that if I study history I’ll have a background not only in writing but in the world. The knowledge of how things were and how they came to be could help me immensely if I ever had to create alternate realities or (wouldn’t you know it) histories. I could use little-known events as inspiration. I chose Medieval Studies because it’s so mysterious; it’s the Dark Ages. There’s so much room for the imagination. And personally, I don’t think anything sounds more mystical than Medieval and Renaissance music.
So really, from my position, (being the final year of high school,) I’d just say pursue something you love. If you think Creative Writing would be beneficial, go for it. If you’re iffy or scared about the chances of making it, (admittedly another reason for history; I could always become a teacher,) then find a second love. You could enjoy it just as much, and then write novels based on that knowledge.
Do YOU plan on getting an MFA?
You can ask us a Question of the Week by clicking on QOTW in the upper part of our website and leaving us a comment. We try to answer Questions in the order they are received, unless something is really pressing.