Do I Have To Get A Creative Writing Degree To Be A Writer?

developmental editing

Creative writing is one of those subjects that don’t require you to go to school for it. So, a short answer would be no, you don’t have to get a degree in creative writing to become a master. However, going to school for writing will help you in many ways ranging from building connections, learning techniques, workshops, and getting your foot in the door.

This post is not meant to bash writers who haven’t gone to school for writing. It’s meant to encourage those who have been wanting to study the craft of creative writing.

I’m a creative writer with a creative writing degree, so this post is based off of my own personal experiences and beliefs. In this article you will learn why getting a degree in creative writing can help you become a better writer.

You’ll Make Writing Friends

One of the main things I’ve enjoyed from my writing degree is that I’ve made a group of writing friends that help me grow. As a writer, it’s important to not only have a support system around you but also it’s beneficial to have other writers around you that can help you develop your works.

When you go to college for writing, you’ll meet lots of other writers. Since the classes are typically small, you’ll make a friend or two along the way that will hopefully stay in your life even after you’re both done with school.

You’ll want these connections to have by your side when you’re thinking of submitting your final draft to a literary magazine or publisher. These writers will be trained to look for specific things in your works that will help you have a higher chance of being noticed.

You’ll Learn Writing As A Craft

Whether you believe it or not, writing is a craft. Anyone can learn how to write; however, it usually does come down to a mix of natural talent, a little bit of luck, and discipline that will turn someone who writes for fun into someone who gets published.

Your writing classes will help you uncover the writing mechanics and techniques that can be used to help develop your creative works. While you can always buy craft writing books, it’s easier to have a professor teach you because they can help you understand writing if you don’t fully understand the techniques.

Also, most creative writing professors have been published and they can be your mentors. Mentors are good to have because they can use their experience and connections to help you get your foot in the door to becoming published.

You will be workshopped. A lot.

Workshops are so important for writers to go to. You can attend a writing workshop anywhere, however, they do get harder to find once you leave your university.

You’ll be able to be workshopped at least twice a semester in your writing degree, and this is an amazing opportunity because that means you’re getting critiqued by people who have studied writing and can provide you with really helpful feedback.

Don’t let being workshopped scare you. You can’t become a published writer if you’re afraid of being critiqued. It is so rare that a writer’s manuscript will ever be accepted by a publisher on the first try. So being workshopped is the perfect practice to handling critiques and rejections to your work.

If you ask people to read your works, you’ll get a lot of blank statements like “I loved it!” or “I didn’t really like it that much but I can’t really figure out why”. Getting workshopped at my university really helped me revise my works because my peers could tell me exactly why something didn’t work and they even offered different outcomes to make it work.

Like I said, you don’t need to go to school to get workshopped. However, if you don’t have that support system or all of your writing friends can’t seem to figure out what’s wrong with your story, you might want to consider going to school to make those connections.

It Helps With Your Creativity

It’s difficult to find the time to write if you’re working a full-time job; however, if you go to school for writing, you’re forced to create new works either for workshops or grades. Now, while no one likes to be forced to write, going to school for writing really helps students master writing as a discipline.

It’s not easy to force yourself to sit down and write, but when your grade depends on it, you’ll find yourself pushing out more material than ever before. Sure, it can be frustrating at times. But because I went to school for writing, I have a massive creative writing portfolio because of it.

People Will Try To Discourage You

I’ll be honest. If you decide to major in creative writing, you’re going to face judgement on all sides of the spectrum. Your family will tell you you’re wasting your time and other self-taught writers will tell you that no one can learn writing, it’s just a “natural” talent.

I was actually pretty surprised when I found out that most writers have never gone to school for writing or even picked up a craft book on writing. I think it’s important to understand your passion to the core and that includes writing even down to the most boring details.

At the end of the day, you know what’s best for you. If you’ve been thinking about attending school for creative writing and you have the time and money to do so, I highly encourage it. Here is a list of the school with the best creative writing programs in the nation. I hope this helps.

One response to “Do I Have To Get A Creative Writing Degree To Be A Writer?”

  1. Your blog post rings true. A creative writing degree is not needed but it sure can help. As you’ve stated making writing friends, learning craft, and workshopping all come from the degree program. I recommend ignoring those who try to discourage a formal degree and do what works for the individual. For me personally, I also found the writing degree built credibility, since I had a background in a very different field of work and study.
    Patrick Gibson


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