schoolAn MFA in creative writing. Doesn’t that sound fabulous?! Actually it sounds like what it is – a lot of hard work. However, that isn’t my question. My question is this; is it worth it?

I know that “honing your craft” is vital. No one is as good as they could be at writing. Aside from authors who are already dead, that is, because seriously, once you’re dead, you’ve pretty much reached your limit. No amount of education is going to help.  In the meantime, a professional writer does everything they can to keep getting better. Notice I said, “better,” not “perfect.” Because perfection probably isn’t attainable, the goal must instead be consistent improvement.

Conferences, workshops and seminars provide great information and training in a convenient, cost effective package, but they don’t confer a degree. At university, one can earn a degree, but the best programs generally require an enormous amount of money and, the real sticking point, TIME. I’m sure it would be beneficial. I’m just not sure it’s necessary.

I’ve dabbled in writing for most of my life and in the last five years I’ve gotten serious about the profession, to the point that now, it’s the only thing I really want to do with the rest of my life. Teaching, I’ll retire from and be satisfied to do so. But I can’t imagine not writing anymore, ever. I’m sure I’ll probably pass away with a voice to type recorder in one hand and a copy of Writer’s Market in the other. It’s because I’m serious that I’ve taken to sitting at the feet of as many different authors as possible. Each week I read as much about the craft and business of writing as I can cram into my schedule. I attend a writer’s critique group twice a month.

And I write.

And isn’t the actual practice of writing the thing that builds a good writer into a great one?

Higher learning is a great thing. I would give (insert proverbial large sacrifice here) for an opportunity to pursue my passion while I worked on my Masters. But, regardless of what it gave me in return, if pursuing an MFA took me away from actual writing – if it stole that time from me…

Would it be worth it?


2 thoughts on “Degree Block

  1. Cheri:
    As one who recently began and then stopped a Master’s program in English/Creative Writing, I can testify that I don’t think it is worth it. I spent most of my time reading and writing pieces that had little to do with what I really wanted to be doing: writing my own pieces. I have moments where I doubt my decision and pangs of regret that last all of five seconds, but then I pull up MY works and take comfort in my own creativity. I can’t even say that I learned anything new in my classes that I wouldn’t have learned at a workshop that cost one-tenth the price of ONE of my Master’s classes. So, I say learn what you can from workshops, glean advice from your awesome critique group, and keep writing.


  2. I do, in fact, have an awesome critique group. 😉 and I am rapidly coming to the same conclusions. There is something to be said for upper level degrees, especially if you want to pursue or continue a career in education. But more and more I find my steps headed in a different direction, so that aspect is becoming less of a draw.


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