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?