Do You Need a Master's in Creative Writing?
Hi, fellow writer who's contemplating going to the US or UK for an MFA or MA in Creative Writing. Been there, done that. Let me break it down for you.
In the year 2014, I enrolled in the Creative Writing MA offered by Bath Spa University. The quaint little town of Bath, England is the very same which is Jane Austen's famed city of lush gamblers.
My classes were twice a week at Corsham Court, a manor build in the 1500s. A proper English country house, it was also the set for the film Remains of the Day.
A perfect, romantic, setting for writing, it was ideal for creativity to shine.
The University year had three semesters:
Workshop & Genre Module
Workshop & Genre Module
Novel or Manuscript
We had classes twice a week, each class was 3 hours long.
The workshop classes were for exploring writing ideas and developing the manuscript. For the genre classes, we could pick from modules like poetry, postmodernism or romance. These were my favourites. It was all play.
By the end of the academic year, by the third semester, ie. around June, classes were over and it was all about the manuscript.
A far-cry from my actual novel, the book I finished writing was completely different. But it has its roots in Bath.
Breaking Down The MA
Looking back, these are the most important components of the MA. I break down how each of these aspects are important and how you can create a similar habitat for yourself:
Literary hacks and writing prompts
We had a syllabus and authors to read and be prompted by. Prompts are actually available online everywhere, including my Instagram page. Remember, a prompt a day, keeps writer's block at bay. And you can find inspiration from anywhere.
We had a networking event at the end of the year. But here, the obvious way is to network among people you know via your favourite social media, or even better, in person :) The not-so-obvious ways are:
Subscribing to publishers newsletters
Workshopping, Creative Mentorship and Creative Peer Group
This is a biggie. Our system was to receive and give feedback on every classmate's writing (6-12) in each class.This scenario is missing unless you're enrolled a workshop of some kind. Or unless you have an agent or an editor working with you. It's not easy to see the holes in your story. There are ways around it though:
Read good stuff so you know good stuff. Don't get intimidated by amazing writers. Push past it.
Give your work some space. Take a few weeks and come back with fresh eyes.
There are companies that give creative feedback for a price.
Put your work out there, send it to agencies, publishers and ask for feedback.
The luxury of time! Hours and hours of time to write, read and sit in the Sun. But not too hard to recreate that here. Carve out 20 minutes a day and write. Like you make time to eat and nap, you can totally make time for writing. Don't think, just do. Add a coffee or tea to condition yourself to the process if it helps. And that's how you Develop a Writing Habit.
When you have a class full of people and teachers championing you on, it's easy to begin to believe in your writing. Away from a course, this will take time. Don't be hard on yourself. Leave aside your preconceptions when you begin, and just begin. One day writing confidence will catch up with you like a habit.
Here's my sign off tip: MA or MFA in Creative Writing courses have their syllabi mentioned in comprehensive detail. Pick the best you can find and create your own reading and writing guide. Also, look for online creative writing courses that you can do for free!
What matters to you?
Do you have the resources to do an MA?
If yes, it will be the most creatively rewarding time of your life. If not, use these ways to always have a spark of creative writing in your life.
If you really want to write and are feeling stuck about how to proceed, drop me a mail, we'll chat!
My fiction book Adulting published by HarperCollins India is out on Amazon.