Remember when I went to Florida and I planned to blog every day I was there? I even took readers questions so I could answer some during my days in Florida.
Now, remember when I had an epic fail and hardly blogged at all?
Well, I'm pulling out those questions and tackling a few.
Allison, a fellow MFA student blogger, asked me about my thoughts on MFA programs. If you don't know, I started a MFA program at Cleveland State University last winter as a fiction writer. I'm only taking one or two classes a semester, because it's my second master's degree (my first is a MEd in English from Boston University) and I'm teaching full time. I know I won't finish the program in the typical three years, but I'm so glad that I started it.
My favorite part of the MFA program is the community of writers I've come into contact with. I've been moving through the program with many of the same writers, and as we get to learn about each other's writing styles, we're able to offer feedback and advice that helps improve our writing. These are people that I have exchanged papers with during class and have met in informal critique groups outside of class. Many of these people have helped me along the way with getting my novel published, and I have gained some valuable writing partners. The work can sometimes get overwhelming (and this is only when taking a class or two), but I know that for all the time I'm putting in to critique someone else's piece, I'll also get the same back on my paper.
My program has given me a more structured writing routine. I'm constantly thinking about my writing. I am always producing something new. I look at published authors and generate ideas through conversations. I don't find a lot of moments where I have writer's block anymore, because I'm so stimulated by the people around me. I'm challenged by my those in my program and I love when we are able to take a piece of writing and bounce ideas around with each other. We may not always be talking about my piece, but by coming up with solutions to other writer's problems, I'm able to come up with some to my own.
I also love the opportunities to network with other writers. I've attended workshops, conferences and readings and learned from writers both published and still getting closer to the same goals I'm stretching towards. I've learned from their processes and there are many people I have met that I still stay in contact with. It seems like after starting my MFA program, I now have someone I can turn to for any type of writing advice that I need.
In NO WAY do I believe you need to be in a MFA program to be a great writer or publish (in fact, I wrote my book that's on submission before I even started this program). There are also many other ways to reach out to fellow writers (and I can speak on that in future posts), but I think the MFA program I'm in is perfect for me. It kicks my butt at time, but in a good way. It keeps me writing and my ideas flowing. Who can ask for something better than that!?
What about you? What are your thoughts on MFA programs? Or writing groups in general?
Also...Don't forget to enter my query/manuscript critique contest...you have until Wenesay night to enter. Click here for details: Super Cool Contest