Should you take a creative writing degree? The honest truth. An interview

There are many ways we can learn the art and craft of writing. One is a dedicated degree course, either at bachelor or postgraduate level. But what do they give you that you can’t get in other ways?

Last year I got in conversation about this with creative writing professor Garry Craig Powell – you might recognise him because he’s been an Undercover Soundtrack guest and interviewed me about Not Quite Lost. So I thought it would be good to write a proper, in-depth interview about it – and it turned out to be very long!

We’re publishing it in parts at Late Last Night Books. In part 1, we chew over the following questions, with actionable points at the end –

What are the benefits and limitations of creative writing degrees?

What experience level should a writer have so their work is enhanced rather than forced into a standard mould (the often-derided MFA novel)?

As writing is largely self-taught, do writers need formal teachers?

Misconceptions about creative writing teachers!

Thanks for the pic, Pixabay

Come on over!

And if you’ve taken a creative writing degree yourself – or considered it and decided not to – do share your experiences in the comments here. Also, post any questions you’d like us to tackle. If they’re not in one of the interviews, we can gather them into a special at the end. 

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  1. #1 by Don Massenzio on January 28, 2019 - 2:14 pm

    Reblogged this on Author Don Massenzio and commented:
    Check out this post from the Nail Your Novel blog with the topic: Should you take a creative writing degree? The honest truth. An interview

  2. #4 by Bryan Fagan on January 28, 2019 - 2:29 pm

    It all comes down to the individual. For me conferences helped a lot but for the most part it was self taught and drive. This is something I enjoy, I feel I’m somewhat good at it and I have an open mind about it.

    A degree may help others but for me I feel I learn through other writers, books (fiction and non) and hard work.

  3. #6 by Alexander Kristensen on February 2, 2019 - 9:28 pm

    I think it comes down to drive and what field of writing you looking to get into and what skills that company requires you to have.

  4. #7 by Sophie Playle on February 4, 2019 - 10:22 am

    That’s a great interview. I’ve studied Creative Writing at BA level (as part of my Literature degree) and MA level, and everything Garry says rings true.

    I wrote about a related topic (a long time ago now) on my blog after completing my MA. In the post I explore whether I could have received the same benefits of the MA without the programme: https://liminalpages.com/alternative-ways-to-achieve-the-benefits-of-a-creative-writing-ma/

    • #8 by Roz Morris @Roz_Morris on February 4, 2019 - 7:27 pm

      Hi Sophie! I’m so pleased it made sense. I followed your link and I like your piece. About to tweet it!

  5. #9 by John Grabowski on March 3, 2019 - 8:46 pm

    The writers I really respect don’t have writing degrees. The writers whose work I find stilted, phony and filled with affectation are almost always MFA darlings. I have a feeling these programs teach writers to talk to, and write for, other writers. The same is true in so many MFA programs today, and not just creative writing. I’ll take someone with interesting life’s experiences and a gift for self expression over someone with a pedigree any day. Your mileage may vary, of course.

    • #10 by Roz Morris @Roz_Morris on March 3, 2019 - 11:48 pm

      Hi John! I’ve certainly read some awful, awful books by people with writing MAs, MFAs and even PhDs. You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s whatnot.

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