05 May

4 Core Elements of the Writing MFA

Posted in Community, Critique, DIY MFA, Reading, Writing

Even though April is over, DIY MFA continues, though in a more relaxed fashion.  Since many participants from April are new to DIY MFA, I thought I’d do some review posts every week to go over some of the DIY MFA concepts we discussed back in September.  Today we’ll go over the four core elements of a Writing MFA (Master of Fine Arts) and how you can do-it-yourself to create your own DIY MFA. 

In a Writing MFA, writers must…

Read.  Most MFA programs have a literature component, where students must take a series of literature classes along with their writing coursework.  At The New School, not only do you have to take literature classes, you actually have to write a literature thesis as part of your graduation requirement.  In that sense, reading is a huge component of the MFA process.  Similarly, DIY MFA puts an emphasis on reading the literature.  By creating a reading list, reading the books and writing responses to what you read, you can simulate the literature study you would do in an MFA program.

Write.  Of course a writing program must include a lot of writing, and so must DIY MFA.  In a writing program you’ll receive instruction on the craft of writing and be pushed to produce a substantial number of pages each semester for your workshop.  This process of writing and rewriting helps you hone your craft and strengthen your own abilities.  Without a writing component, the MFA (including the DIY MFA) would miss the point.  To be a writer, you have to write.  It’s that simple.

Workshop.  The workshop is a central component of any MFA in writing.  By giving critique to other writers, you sharpen your reading skills.  In receiving critique on your own work will learn to make your writing stronger, as well as develop skills to handle rejection and criticism on your work.

Connect.  One component that many writers forget is connecting to the writing community.  Connecting can happen in many different ways.  Attending readings, going to conferences, connecting with other writers via the internet… these are all great ways to engage with the writing community.  The reason community is so important for writers is that otherwise writing can be a very lonely enterprise.  Community gives us a reality check and helps us stay motivated.

Which of these elements is easiest for you?  Which is the biggest challenge?


Comments on this post

  1. K.V. Briar says:

    For me reading and writing are easiest, they're the fun part. Workshoping and connecting to other writers is much harder for me. I am an introvert by nature and find it hard to share my work. The internet makes this easier, still it's something that I struggle with.

    Great post Gabi, a much needed reminder that we need to focus on all four elements to be successful.

    1. J.C. Martin says:

      Reading, writing and connecting (at least online) are easy! Workshopping requires moolah, something I'm a bit strapped for at the moment…which is why your online DIY MFA was so awesome!!

      1. Gabriela Pereira says:

        JC–There are ways to get the workshop experience without spending money, like participating in a critique group! I'll be talking more about writing groups in the next month or so but fear not: there is a way to do the workshop component without spending bundles of money!

        1. Kerryn Angell says:

          It's weird to say but writing is the easiest of all those for me. I had a real dry spell with reading a while back. I can be a real introvert at times and it's easier to write than to reach out to the world even if that world is in another book.

          What I love about DIY MFA is that it reminds me to keep a balance between all of these and shows me ways to seek them out.

          1. Sarah Allen says:

            Simple but true. These are all things we can do on our own too, though MFA programs can definitely give us a boost.

            Sarah Allen
            (my creative writing blog)

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