Friday, June 4, 2010

To Get an MFA or not to get an MFA....That is the Question

Song of the Day: "Golden" by Jill Scott

    I was recently reading an article on the Writer's Digest website on why you should get an MFA. Obviously, it's a personal decision. This article was mostly comprised of advice from five different people (three MFA graduates and two professors). I thought it was interesting since I am currently pursuing an MFA. There were two reasons that stuck out the most to me. One reason to pursue it is because it's such a great way to network and the second is because it's good for sharpening your writing skills. Since I am currently in a program, I can attest to this being true. Take networking for example. I have met so many people in the program already. In fact, my two friends Pamela and Marquita encouraged me to keep up with this blog. (Check out Y(A) ? Cuz We Write! The link is in the sidebar!) I met them through my MFA program and they are not only great friends now, but they offer so much "writerly" support. Before this program I really didn't have much of that. Most of my friends were not interested in writing or reading. I also had the opportunity of meeting a writer named Nina Foxx. She graduated from the program last year, right when I was just beginning. She was graduating from the program and already had several books published. I asked her if she could offer any advice, and she said "If you think it's good, then it's good." I'll never forget those words. Every time I beat myself up over a piece of writing that I think falls short, I remember her words. We were also joined by another writer by the name of Carmen Green. She was also graduating and was a published writer. By the end of the conversation they both gave me their cards and said that I could email them any time. The support received in an MFA program really is incredible.
     As for my writing skills, I really do think they've gotten better. I look at the stories I start out with and how they evolve over the time period of the course. Sometimes by the end of the course it's a completely different story! My writing has improved, and there are actually a few pieces that I am proud of. Before this program, I wasn't really proud of much of my writing.
     One other thing my MFA program has done for me is force me to step outside of my box. I had never really written a story from the male perspective, and I finally tried it out over the last month during one of my fiction courses. It actually went well. The story was originally told from the female's perspective, but it sounded one thousand times better in a male voice. I'm also writing with different POV's. I'm really enjoying learning about the craft, and how many ways a story can be told. Plus, the deadlines force me to write. I have no choice but to buckle down and sit behind my computer until the work is done.
    An MFA may not land you a solid career as a writer, but it definitely has its benefits.
    Below is a link to the Writer's Digest article if you're interested. What do you think? Should writers get an MFA?


  1. I'd love to get an MFA. I think education is wonderful and it can absolutely help people become better writers. That said, I don't think it's practical for everyone to get MFAs and I know a lot of writers with MFAs that still aren't published.

    But, like you said, it opens doors and that can't hurt.

  2. This is a cool topic. I sometimes get discouraged when I hear of these authors who do not have an MFA and they are published- I wonder, why am I working so hard? Sometimes, I do feel like it can be a hindrance. MFA programs can be a little pretentious every now and then and sometimes I just wanna read a Dean Koontz or a Stephen King book and not feel bad about it! And I like to write genre fiction every now and then and I don't feel like beautiful prose is always needed...okay, I can go on and on about this, but you are right overall. The MFA program I am in has helped me sharpen my skills as a writer.

  3. Ooh, great topic! I kind of have a love/hate relationship with my MFA program. I agree with Quita. I was in a module where my professor scoffed at Brett Easton Ellis' writing and I was all like "But I like him." Also, not many of my classmates understand YA, which is what I would love to write as my career. But a certain professor that you and I love (and who we WILL make our thesis mentor) really challenges me and pushes me to be a better writer. If all else fails, at least we will be qualified to teach English/creative writing at the post-secondary level, which would be a pretty cool gig to have.

  4. I am in has helped me sharpen my skills as a writer.
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