I’ve always been a writer. In what seems like a former life now, I used to be a teacher.
When I was teaching, my students knew I was a writer.
Probably because I wouldn’t shut up about it. You know those bartenders who are actors or those waiters who are musicians. Yeah, I was that guy.
My students got a kick out of me (and hopefully learned a little something). They were all great in their own ways (well, almost all were); however, many years later, I find that some of the most memorable students were the writers. Of course.
When I was teaching, students with a talent and passion for creative writing were always eager to share their stories and other writing with me.
You may want to replace the word eager with desperate. But hey, we writers want to get read, otherwise what’s the point, right?
Rashad’s science-fiction short stories were incredible. Of course, the factual descriptions involving smoking cigarettes were inaccurate. But I suppose that’s a good thing for an 8th grader.
Jibriel’s screenplays for short films were excellent. He wasn’t a student of mine, or even in my school, but word about my second career spread and Jibriel sought me out. I’m glad he did.
Should Rashad, Jibriel, or any other aspiring writer pursue a Bachelor’s in Creative Writing or an MFA?
The answer, for most writers, is no. Here are five reasons why I think you should probably skip the MFA or BA in Creative Writing:
1. Writers Hate Other Writers
What kind of person really wants to be around other writers all the time?
You love writing now, but how would you feel about it if you were talking about writing all the time? Would studying creative writing that intensely sap your interest?
And, of course, there are professional jealousies.
Could you handle other writers in your program receiving more recognition than you?
Could you handle your own creative writing being judged harshly by other writers in the program? Would this discourage you?
2. Never Ending Student Loans
Are you ready to embrace debt?
Because that’s what you’ll face unless you’re from an affluent family, can land a scholarship, or attend a low-cost state or city university.
3. Insularity and Lack of Adventure
If you want to write something worth reading, then you’d better have a wide array of experiences.
I suppose interesting stories can be written about downing vodka shots for Adderall, grinding to Teach Me How To Dougie at a frat party, or performing a bell run. Maybe.
But remember, the only thing that’s positively more boring than stories about writers are stories about students in MFA programs.
4. You Can Do It Yourself
Writing is an art, not a science. Therefore, some degree of natural talent is extremely useful. If you have talent, all you need to do is hone it. If you don’t, cut your losses.
Write consistently, embrace honest critiques, dedicate yourself to continual improvement, read as much as you can on improving craft, and soak up an array of interesting experiences.
If you do all of the above, you’ll soon be writing better than many who undertake formal study in creative writing.
5. These Programs May Stifle Creativity
Want to be confined to writing in certain forms, on certain topics, or within other parameters that limit the creative process? Hell no.
If you’re really really really serious about being a writer, then you can ditch the creative writing program without any negative consequences.
And if you’re not serious, why are you wasting your time reading this blog?
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Fighting the good fight with you,