Students who want to get their MFA in creative writing are challenged to write in different genres and study literature from a working writer’s point of view. Graduates have a unique chance to become not only the published authors of poetry, screenplays, fiction, and others, but also professional editors, journalists, publishers, and even teachers. Online MFA creative writing programs culminate in the oral defense and submission of a creative and original thesis in fiction or poetry. In general, these are 3-year degree programs that value innovations, literary studies, and creative writing that tests a limit of conventional literary forms.
Basic information about available programs
MFA degree programs in creative writing are available completely online, although a standard campus-residency element may be required. It often involves all kinds of writing workshops that allow participants to do the following:
- Critique their works;
- Work with faculty mentors;
- Network with publishing experts.
Some residencies last for about 1 week and they happen once or twice a year. Although many creative writing programs require this element, others don’t. The good news is that some of them offer internships, and applications to them require a personal portfolio of your creative work. You don’t need any advanced degree to be a creative author, but the MFA can help you develop a unique voice and distinguish your own style. If you want to teach in the future, it’s also possible to benefit from such programs. However, prospective writing teachers may have to complete extra training and meet special certification requirements.
The MFA in creative writing
Through the MFA in creative writing, you have to submit your creative piece of writing in a range of genres and styles, which will be analyzed by professors and other students. Online programs provide you with a great opportunity to learn what professional publishers and editors search for in terms of forms, lengths, voices, plots, characters, and rhythms. The main goal is to create your publishable work, so you need to gain your practical experience in different genres to learn how to tailor your work and expertise to the chosen writing style.
Important program requirements
To be accepted into one of the available online programs, it’s necessary to have a bachelor’s degree and meet other basic requirements that may vary based on the chosen one. As you already know, some of them require a portfolio of your literary works to be evaluated before being accepted. You can access online courses through the updated educational servers used by many students to:
- Complete academic assignments;
- Interact with other students;
- Access different courses.
To participate in online MFA programs, you require a reliable Internet connection and a computer in addition to specific software.
A list of common MFA creative writing courses
Online master’s programs in creative writing require students to publish their work instead of meeting general educational requirements. Although most of them don’t demand students to complete any internship, it’s still necessary to attend regular on-campus workshops. They are created to improve your chances to be published, and it’s an ultimate goal of all programs.
Short story writing
This class covers all the elements of writing an excellent short story. You will study short stories to determine effective techniques that can help you. You also learn how to do the following:
- Use interesting dialogues;
- Develop deep characters;
- Create the plot that tells a short story in a catchy and succinct manner.
Students are asked to examine a number of advanced principles in writing a successful fictional story, such as effective ways and forms to tell an interesting story. Most of them are covered through regular workshops where students need to share their pieces of writing with others to receive valuable feedbacks and discuss the pros and cons.
Poetry, critique, and composition
If you take this course, you need to examine your poetry to determine where you succeed and what should be improved. Next, you study published poetry and read relevant texts to learn how to express yourself poetically.
Creative non-fiction courses
They cover effective literary techniques that can be used to make your non-fiction writing more interesting and original to the audience. You should use different elements of fiction in your book reviews, travel articles, and personal essays.
Career information for all graduates
Students who graduate from MFA programs can start working as professional authors or writers. Furthermore, it’s possible to work in relevant careers, including journalism, advertising, and publishing. According to the latest statistics, the demand for skilled writers will grow in the near future.
If you want to pursue your extra education after graduating from the MFA program, feel free to earn your doctorate degree in creative writing, but this option isn’t available over the Internet. You can use your writing expertise to pursue degrees in other subjects, including tourism, business, law, etc.
Common myths that should be debunked
Online MFA creative writing programs are very convenient for most students, although some of them include a short campus-residency requirement. It’s true that they aren’t required to pursue a successful career in writing, but learning advanced techniques can help you improve your skills and work according to common publishing preferences. Most students choose the MFA in creative writing because they want to:
- Get published;
- Teach writing;
- Make enough room in their lives for writing.
However, all the above-mentioned reasons to choose MFA programs are based on the common myths that must be debunked.
The MFA is required to teach writing
Many people get the MFA in creative writing only because they think that it will let them teach writing on a graduate level. These days, there are many MFA graduates looking for jobs in this field, and only a few positions are available. In the past, this degree served as a steppingstone to being a professor, but that’s not a case anymore. It’s interesting that many teachers in writing don’t have any MFA degree. For example, some of them are successful writers with good careers, while others are publishing specialists who bring industry perspectives to courses. This means that MFA programs have a little impact on the ability to teach writing, but they still offer many benefits.
It’s a shortcut to get published
There are no editors who will publish your works and no agents who will sign you only based on credentials because you need to write something brilliant. If you attend MFA programs and work hard, you’ll definitely become a better writer who knows how to write a good story. They can help you on a quest for getting published, but attending such courses isn’t obligatory to achieve this goal. After all, there are many authors who write great books without that.
MFA programs force students to make writing their priority
If you find enough time for writing only by taking part in a graduate program and putting the whole life on hold, a writing career won’t last too long. The main problem is that only a few authors can earn a living for themselves and their families through writing. That’s why it’s more important to find the right balance between writing and other everyday things. You need to become a master juggler to succeed because you should manage your online presence, promote books, and do many other things at the same time. Don’t forget about scheduling these tasks around your family, standard work, and other crucial responsibilities.
Genre writing in MFA programs in creative writing
Most of MFA programs are focused on poetry, creative non-fiction, and literary fiction. Although they all are important areas of literature, they cover only a small part of the diverse and wide world of creative writing. While some of these programs allow people to study children’s literature and genre fiction, most of them are focused only on literary work. So, if you prefer to write commercial non-fiction, genre fiction, or books for kids, you should be careful when choosing the right MFA course for you.
Writers of commercial fiction and genre are quite dedicated and driven because they take every piece of writing seriously. They also work hard to understand a business side of the modern publishing industry. You can find many conferences, guilds, and associations dedicated to commercial writing or specific genres in addition to available MFA programs.
Reasons to pursue the MFA in creative writing
Should you attend MFA courses? They aren’t a bad thing because such programs are perfect at serving a specific and small group of authors. As an example, if you write creative non-fiction, poetry, or literary fiction, and if you prefer an online academic environment, the MFA in creative writing is your effective solution. If you can afford tuition fees without any loans, and if you have enough time to get the most from this experience, you’re a perfect candidate for such programs. You can find great mentors and make valuable connections when attending them.
How to create personalized MFA courses
Take advantage of a magic equation that summarizes everything about MFA programs. They are all about a lot of reading, writing, and building the community. During regular workshops, you share critiques with others and work toward a good piece of writing that can become a successful thesis project. Most programs require students to take specific literary courses both outside and inside the chosen genre or area. They are also asked to attend talks and reading with other authors to build their personal writing community. If you want to create a personalized MFA formula, find a great way to combine all of these important elements.
Writing with your focus
You need to be committed to a particular writing project and complete it. In standard MFA terms, it’s all about your thesis, which is an important part of your professional development. However, you don’t have to complete it to get a valuable experience because all you need to do is to polish and finish your piece of writing. Although you can explore and play, you must choose a specific project and see it through. If you write with your focus, you have a certain goal in your mind.
Reading with a purpose
Reading with a specific purpose means having a writer’s eye. If you read for your pleasure, it’s a wonderful experience, but reading with a purpose is quite different because it’s not only about learning what happens in a story, but also about finding out how authors pull it off. This type of reading is an effective intellectual exercise. When you read with a specific purpose, you examine how authors create their stories to be able to use the same techniques in your writing.
Building your community
In MFA programs, building a community is an organic process because you meet many other writers during literature courses and regular workshops. That’s because you attend many conferences and readings to connect with other authors and learn more about the industry. An important community element is included in MFA creative writing. Working on your own usually takes more effort and time, so you should learn how to find other writers and critique partners to support your success. Discover different associations and conferences that can help you navigate the business side of creative writing and the modern publishing industry. This way, you also learn effective ways to find and connect with the targeted audience.
Good things about MFA programs
There are many good things about attending MFA creative writing courses. First, you’ll be surrounded by a circle of writers and have the like-minded community. The more authors you know who read your pieces of writing, the better your skills. You also need other writers around you to stay motivated.
Getting more time to write
MFA programs provide you with more time to write, which means that you have longer deadlines for creative writing and different workshops. If you have a feeling that you want to get away from a busy lifestyle or your uninteresting job and start writing, the MFA in creative writing is a good option.
Great opportunities in literary writing
You will get training from expert literary authors, which is a good benefit if you’re interested in creative writing. They usually tend to get into the crannies and nooks of fiction and teach students how an interesting story is told. In other cases, you can look for available MFA programs that offer different paths in genre fiction.
Your access to literary agents
Another benefit is that many MFA creative writing courses are watched by literary agents because they produce good authors. They look for the writers they can work with in the future, so such programs offer a unique opportunity to get connected with literary agents and improve your chances for a future successful career in the industry.
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