Support for Indie Authors discussion

73 views
Archived Author Help > Thoughts on pursuing a degree in writing

Comments Showing 1-23 of 23 (23 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Bill (new)

Bill Jacks (BillJacks) Thoughts on pursuing a BFA...or MFA (pending lottery winnings)? There is no requirement to be a writer--and by that I mean of fiction, novels, etc.--other than to write something that people trade money for. So is it worth the time and money it would take to obtain a degree? I don't doubt that I'd be a better writer for it; but how much better? Thousands in debt better? Will my complete mastery of the semicolon be the difference between success and pawning my basset hound for gas money? Any thoughts?


message 2: by Riley, Viking Extraordinaire (new)

Riley Amos Westbrook (sonshinegreene) | 1510 comments Mod
It depends, if you're doing non-fiction, it can be the difference between a bottom seller and a best seller. If you're just doing fiction, I don't think schooling is necessarily going to put you over the hump. That comes with just hard work and effort.
Still, if you have the option it can't hurt. And I freely admit that I probably would, just to try to catch the things I missed in school being a little jerkwad x D


message 3: by Bill (new)

Bill Jacks (BillJacks) I wasn't joking about the pawning; that would be a real thing. So no, it's not really an option. I would just make it that way if I though the struggle was worth it. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: I already have about half the credits required for most degrees...I think.


message 4: by Riley, Viking Extraordinaire (new)

Riley Amos Westbrook (sonshinegreene) | 1510 comments Mod
Degree > than no degree. That's my opinion, and I would do it if it were an option. I say go for it, who knows what opportunities it will open.


message 5: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) If you're just looking to tighten up your writing, taking a class or two on creative writjng could help and not cause anxiety issues for your poor basset hound. If you want to be able to put your credentials in your bio, that's another.


message 6: by Bill (new)

Bill Jacks (BillJacks) Is BFA even a real degree? I actually saw it on a Goodreads ad. I've only ever heard of MFA. I'm sure it exists, but i'm wondering if it's one of those thunk up, non-accredited type deals, like a degree in underwater welding.


message 7: by Bill (new)

Bill Jacks (BillJacks) Even if I don't pursue a degree, I will at least take a few creative writing classes. I'm just weighing one against the other.


message 8: by April (last edited Aug 10, 2015 08:01PM) (new)

April Wilson (aprilwilson) Bill wrote: "Thoughts on pursuing a BFA...or MFA (pending lottery winnings)? There is no requirement to be a writer--and by that I mean of fiction, novels, etc.--other than to write something that people trade ..."

Bill, it wouldn't hurt you, but it's certainly not necessary. And it won't necessarily make you a better writer. But it will cost you a lot of money.

You can learn how to write just as easily by reading good books on writing and by - most importantly - WRITING, WRITING, WRITING.

April


message 9: by K.P. (new)

K.P. Merriweather (kp_merriweather) | 266 comments a masters degree don't mean beans unless you're teaching the subject as a prof. i have a ba in language arts, English and composition. in my town im considered "overqualified" for most secretary positions (not including my degrees in IT, Business Mgmt, and info sys...) so unless you just want to "look good" in my opinion save your cash, take a few classes, dial it in and call it a day.
not everyone with an expensive degree related to writing are capable of hammering out an enjoyable book....


message 10: by Bill (new)

Bill Jacks (BillJacks) K.P., so as far as your writing goes, the degree wasn't worth much?


message 11: by K.P. (new)

K.P. Merriweather (kp_merriweather) | 266 comments nope. -_- but that's just me though. i continue writing because i have stories to tell. i dont work for anyone else because i dont have time for office politics. i keep my small company afloat with whatever projects that come in (hopefully next quarter is better. this year so far has been rough...).
if getting a degree works for you so be it. but im just not seeing how it really does much (aside from accruing debts) other than make the other plebeians think you are special because you spent all that effort where a few classes and a few dozen books could accomplish the same (self study, free school etc)
please dont think im in any way bitter (im not. :D) as everyone's situation is unique and different.
whatever you decide to do i wish you the best and happiness in your ventures


message 12: by Owen (last edited Aug 11, 2015 04:20AM) (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments I think it depends on your goals. I did check out an MFA program once, out of curiosity. It seemed to cover everything but actually writing: how to seek out careers in writing (things like ad copy and editorial writing), how to sell a screenplay, how to pitch non-fiction.

Nothing about actually writing, nothing about indie publishing, nothing much about fiction (except for screenplay and I think maybe video game concepts?). Maybe that was buried in there somewhere, but I didn't see it. I can't say if that is typical, however.

I've taken two creative writing courses in my life. The only thing I got out them were some belly laughs over the instructor's notions of how one should write. I imagine (hope) others have had better luck.

I have known several people with MFAs in creative writing. Oddly, none of these people have published anything, to the best of my knowledge. It sort of makes me wonder to what extent these degrees inspire writer or just try to convince them they are doing "everything wrong"?


message 13: by Bill (new)

Bill Jacks (BillJacks) This seems to be the general consensus: a waste of time and money. At this point, I've probably done too much on my own anyway. I doubt I would pay much attention if someone suggested I do something differently, or change anything about the way I write. Its just that the few people I've met with MFAs seemed to be amazing writers. I thought maybe the diploma gave you supernatural literary abilities, but maybe it was just a coincidence. And your description of what the program actually covers just made me throw up inside my mouth. I used to HATE all the pre-requisite, gen-ed, non-writing related classes I was forced to take. If I were to sign up for that thinking it was specifically for creative writing, and then be taught how to line edit and develop a Donkey Kong, I'd probably have a rage stroke. So that settles that.


message 14: by Rachael (new)

Rachael Eyre (rachaeleyre) | 192 comments My creative writing degree was a mixed experience. While it was great to get regular feedback from published authors, as well as input from a group of readers, we weren't given much advice on how to get published or find an agent. Perhaps you should start or join a writing group instead?


message 15: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Jensen (kdragon) | 468 comments Went to college, got a creative writing degree, but I swear I learned more about writing from writing fanfic than taking those classes.

On the other hand, I loved the experience, and some of the classes did at least get me reading things I otherwise wouldn't have read on my own. Still, I personally don't think it's worth going into debt over. I would say that if the purpose of taking these classes is to hone your skills, then just take the classes without the goal being a degree.


message 16: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) | 779 comments A few people have told me I should consider college to further my writing but I'm always skeptical about going back to school. If I did I'd want to get into something along the lines of Creative Writing or even a Poe or Shakespeare class if they had one. I know my writing could use a course or two I'm just not sure I could take the pressure and burden that is college.


message 17: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Jensen (kdragon) | 468 comments Justin wrote: "A few people have told me I should consider college to further my writing but I'm always skeptical about going back to school. If I did I'd want to get into something along the lines of Creative Wr..."

I would say take the particular classes you want instead of going for a degree. No having to deal with pre-reqs and required classes.

And I think some colleges or professors even allow people to sit in on a class without having to take that class. You just wouldn't get graded for anything.


message 18: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) | 779 comments Hmm..you just gave me something to ponder.


message 19: by Angel (last edited Sep 15, 2015 05:00PM) (new)

Angel | 216 comments I went to school for my degree in Journalism, Creative Writing and English, three colleges. It doesn't make a difference in the end. You either have it or you don't as a true author.


message 20: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) | 779 comments Angel wrote: "I went to school for my degree in Journalism, Creative Writing and English, three colleges. It doesn't make a difference in the end. You either have it or you don't as a true author."

I took Journalism and Creative Writing in high school. I hated Journalism as it just wasn't my type of scene or writing but I loved Creative Writing.


message 21: by Angel (new)

Angel | 216 comments I hated Journalism too. But, Creative Writing and Literature were where I excelled and fell in love with the art of the written word.


message 22: by Sam (last edited Sep 15, 2015 06:32PM) (new)

Sam Friedman (sam_ramirez) | 83 comments I'll be honest. I did not know until about a year ago that one could earn a degree in "creative writing". So while I can't say I'm the person to best answer this, I can provide one nugget for thought:
Last year I attended a conference for young writers at Towson University. A CW professor there who ran one of the seminars began telling people how to write fiction as if his way was the only way to do it. He also didn't have a high opinion of fantasy, which is my preferred genre. I'm sure if I submitted a fantasy book, I'd get a D for his course.
However, I do follow publishing news, and I've noticed that a lot of debut authors traditionally published who aren't celebrities are connected to the creative writing/MFA field. Yes, I know this is an indie board. But, having spoken to trad-pubbed editors and others in the industry, there are benefits to trad-pubbed for some authors. Case in point: How many successful indies sign with a publisher (including Amazon imprints) to make and distribute print copies of books and help with marketing? IF you think you have any desire to ever try to seek publication with a major imprint, I feel as though people with BFA/MFA degrees have a leg up on the rest of us who don't.


message 23: by Catherine (new)

Catherine Milos | 2 comments Any education and training in professional fields is valuable. I don't think you need to consider what type of writer you are. I think you need to consider if you really want to go through with that much schooling and invest that much money in it.

An English degree offers history on professional writers that made changes and impacted history, requires writing differently, learning to tailor to different audiences, and offers a method to study mechanics of the language via linguistics. It has a great deal of value.

But so does self-education, taking courses or certificates, attending workshops or learning other artistic endeavors or other languages.

Another great method is participating in writers groups or retreats where other writers review your work and offer feed back.

Or, invest the money in a great editor who can do the same thing for you.

It comes down to: 1) how do you learn? and 2)what do you want to invest in?


back to top