As writers we always seek to improve our writing and a question that often comes up is – should I get a degree in creative writing? Since I actually hold an MA in Creative Writing, I often find myself answering this question. But to answer it, I have to address the reasons people might want a creative writing degree.
Will a creative writing degree improve my writing skills?
Well, no. Creative writing classes can help improve your writing skills. But that actual degree is just a piece of paper that indicates that you’ve completed a specific number of education hours at a college or university. Keep in mind that many of those educational hours won’t be involved in studying creative writing. You’ll have to fulfill all the college’s basic degree requirements in addition to taking the creative writing classes. Of course, the good news is, at the end of it all, you will have a degree in hand.
Will a creative writing degree help me get published?
No. Being a good writer will help you get published. But as writers, we constantly seek something, anything, we can put in our query letters to interest an agent or publisher, and we think perhaps mentioning a degree will do that. Agents see a lot of query letters and they’re more interested in your work than your degree. I don’t mention my MA in my query letters, and agents still request to read my work. I’ve been helping a college professor with his query letter. He mentions his degree and his college teaching. He hasn’t had a request for even a partial read yet because he hasn’t been able to nail down what the book is about.
Can I write fantasy for my creative writing degree?
This will depend on the program you attend and the professors teaching the writing workshops. Most formal creative writing programs will expect you to work on literary writing. If you aren’t interested in literary writing, make sure that you research the degree program before applying.
Will a creative writing degree destroy my natural writing style?
No. If you have a strong natural writing style, taking classes and going through workshops won’t destroy it. You might find yourself challenged to explore and write in other styles, but this exploration should strengthen your writing.
Why should someone pursue a degree in creative writing?
Reason 1 – Because you want one. If you’re going to college to get a degree and the one you want is in creative writing, then go for it. The business world usually doesn’t care if you have a degree in Creative Writing, English Literature, Communications, History, Philosophy or just about any other liberal arts degree. Study what you love.
Reason 2 – Because you want to teach creative writing. A degree indicates that you have spent a specific number of hours studying a particular subject. It doesn’t guarantee you’re a great writer or that you’ll be a great teacher, but degrees are needed credentials in the academic world.
I hope this article provides some answers about pursuing a degree in creative writing. Keep in mind that the study of writing is a life-long pursuit even for those who don’t have a degree in creative writing. And a degree doesn’t represent the end of the writing journey. But who wants the journey to end?