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April 15th, 2003, 09:59 AM
Has anyone here received any formal education in writing? I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, Creative Writing. Although I have no doubt that my writing was improved by the program, I received no information about the business of writing. We took time to examine Fitzgerald to the smallest minutia, but not a minute was spent on 'how to get published'. This is one of the reasons I'm glad I stumbled across this forum, I'm finally getting an inkling on how to try and get published.

So anyone else do this? If so, what were your impressions of the program?


I, Brian
April 15th, 2003, 10:41 AM
I went back to college to get an A-Level in English Literature and Language. I learned a few long terms, now forgotten, and the course generally had no impact on my own writing. However, we did study Shakespeares "Richard II" which was a little inspirational.

April 15th, 2003, 01:02 PM
I'm taking part-time university right now to get a BA in English Language and Literature. I love studying literature, and the courses I've taken so far have been both inspirational and have helped me improve my basic writing skills (all those essays!). I don't know if it's really necessary to have formal education to become a successful writer but I can't see that it would harm in any way. At the very least, having formal education might make you look more impressive to publishers you approach in the future.

That having been said, university courses generally teach you nothing about the business side of writing. I took one of those correspondence courses on Freelance Writing once, from International Correspondence Schools--and although the creative writing part of it was a joke--the teacher just gave me an A+ on everything without really making any helpful comments--the course taught me lots about the business side of writing. Everything from writing a good query letter to copyright laws to taxes. Plus several of the units were exclusively on grammar and that's always helpful.

If you really want to learn about the business side of things I would check out something like that. Or maybe there's a course you can take at your community college. There are lots of ways to complement your university education. :)

April 15th, 2003, 01:43 PM
I would love to do a writing qualification like a masters in creative writing, for example, but those courses are notoriously hard to get on to and would take up too much time and money.

I did a BA in English at uni and I can't really say it has had any influence on my creative writing. We did do a very interesting unit on Children's fantasy literature but that was the only thing that came close to looking at the kind of writing I'm interested in.

We were certainly never taught how to write - all we did was pick apart other writers, and not in a way that changes the way I look at my own writing - it was too pretentious and boring for that most of the time.

I still would jump at the chance of a creative writing qualification but it would have to be parttime, cheap and credible.

April 15th, 2003, 02:17 PM
Well, my formal education lies at the opposite end of the spectrum. I was never sure exactly what I would get out of a literature course that I couldn't get just by reading certain materials and thinking about them on my own (other than perhaps being forced to actually read something).

I did however have an opportunity to take a course on essay writing a year ago and found it most helpful. I can't say it did much for inspiring creativity, but it did help out a lot with grammar and assisted me in organizing my thoughts in a far more clear fashion.

Gravity's End
April 15th, 2003, 05:04 PM
I have a B.A. in English, with an option in Writing & Editing (as opposed to Literature). The writing and editing was largely business-related, though, and not oriented towards creative writing.

I also have a B.A. in History, which has actually been useful with regards to research, as well as inspiration.

April 15th, 2003, 05:17 PM

I graduated from Cornell with an English degree...

I basically wrote everything in the world except what I wanted to write. *laugh* Still, it was/is very good to have contacts with these amazing professors, who I call upon to assist and critique my writing.

It was also great to have read the works of hundreds of other writers from the past. I think it is important to study the great writers of English Literature, no matter how different their writing genre might be. There is much to learn...


April 16th, 2003, 01:23 AM
I guess it works for some, and I was considering doing a Creative Writing course last year, but I figured it cost a lot of money and waste my time whilst interfering with my actual writing. I'd be trying to write what I need to write whilst having to write what the course expects me to write. And it sounds like its more background and learning about other writers than anything really useful.

April 16th, 2003, 07:53 AM
I have mixed feelings about my degree. Yes, I do think I became a better writer for it, but, as I stated, I didn't learn really any of the business. Then there's the part about graduating with a degree that wasn't really applicable to alot of jobs, but hindsight's 20/20, right?

One thing I did know when I graduated, I had no desire to continue on to a advanced program in writing.

April 16th, 2003, 08:04 AM
Formal writing education....um.....for me, none. But then again, as much as I've always liked writing, liked my style, I never saw myself as a serious writer until this past year. And now that I'm really thinking about it, building it into my life, starting to seek more serious minded boards, such as this, I've asked myself that question...do I wish to take a class.

Well, I have a unique and highly individualistic style. It's not for everybody, but it's mine. And I'm more afraid that should I take a creative writing class, that they will attempt to strip down my style, try to change me so that I resemble little more than a factory cut out, geared towards main stream audiences and able to crank out mass quantities of the "same old, same old".

I may take a grammar class to brush up on that and to fix my common errors. But if it's meant to be, I'll find my audience because I do think that we are short changing people out there. I do want to stand out. And if it makes the journey towards publication that much longer, so be it. I just don't want to become a publication machine at the expense of my own style. Maybe that's a cynical approach. But I've known too many people who, once they've taken these courses, have lost their voice, who feel the need to harp on every little thing that doesn't fit into the frame of what they've been taught.

To each their own, I suppose.