If you’re reading this, I assume you’re either thinking about applying for a creative writing MFA or have already done so. Congrats! I’m sure you’ll enjoy your time at the Institute and, after graduation, look back on your experience with fondness.
But, if you’re curious about what comes next, you might be wondering exactly what you should do before applying.
Let’s examine some of the requirements for pursuing a MFA in Creative Writing (or any other branch of the Creative Writing department), starting with the most basic:
Know Your Craft
The first step to becoming a successful writer is realizing that you’re not a natural-born storyteller. You’ve got to study and work at being a good writer. There’s no other way around it. You can’t just expect to magically produce high-quality work because you “feel inspired.”
Now, the good news is, you don’t have to. There are various courses, workshops, and seminars that you can attend to learn the fundamentals of writing. Take a look at the Creative Writing syllabus over at the University of Michigan, for example. You’ll find a course in every genre: fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. And, for each of those sub-genres, you’ll see a range of tools you can use to study and develop your craft.
Pursue Your Writing
So, you’ve decided to pursue a MFA in Creative Writing. Congratulations! You’ve got a lot to look forward to. But, before you begin your studies, you’ve got to make sure you’ve got your writing ‘hood’ spruced up in preparation for school. There are various writing-related activities you can do to prepare, such as:
- Reading. Lots and lots of reading. We’ll discuss this more in the next section.
- Studying other writers. You don’t need to be limited by what you learn in class. Take a look at the various resources Creative Writing professors and tutors have to offer.
- Getting feedback. There are numerous places you can find feedback – both positive and negative. Learn how to distinguish between the two.
- Going to class. All the instructors are world-class teachers and will gladly help you grow as a writer. Sign up for their class discussions and take full advantage of the opportunity.
- Attending conferences and getting acquainted with other writers.
- Participating in contests and getting recognition for your work.
- Organizing your thoughts.
- Editing. When you’re done with your story, you’ve got to make it perfect. Rewriting is a necessary evil, but it’s something you should look forward to.
- And last but not least, reading. If you want to improve as a writer, you’ve got to feed your brain with high-quality content. The more you read and the better you read, the more you’ll improve. If you keep this up, before you know it, you’ll be writing your masterpieces and sending them to famous literary agents, who will then turn around and offer you a six-figure contract…or maybe even a million-dollar movie deal.
Get A Job
With any luck, you’ll be granted a full scholarship to the Institute. In that case, your next step will be to find a job. Finding a job in creative writing isn’t easy, but with some initiative, you’ll be able to secure yourself a position as a literary agent’s assistant, magazine editor, or maybe even an online writer for a large media company. If you’re looking for freelance work, you’ll need to put in the extra effort to secure prestigious clients. The more you write, the better your chances of securing a prestigious contract.
Get A Spousal Visa
There’s one other thing you need to do before you begin your studies at the Creative Writing Institute. You must get a spousal visa if you’re from a non-English speaking country. Without one, a lot of the the courses will not be available to you. There’s no need to rush into this decision. Take your time and do some research. Make sure you’re fully aware of what you’re getting into before you choose this option.
Knowledge Of The Industry
Once you’ve gotten all the paperwork done and are officially a student at the Creative Writing Institute, your final step will be to familiarize yourself with the industry. What does that mean? You’ve got to learn about the market for creative writers. Where do you fit into the industry structure? How does advertising work? How about pitching? How about submissions? Get to know these terms – and then forget about them. You’ll be in a position to ask any literary agent, editor, or publisher anything related to the industry, and they’ll be happy to help you. They’ll actually be excited to tell you about the industry, because they want to show you that they can guide you through this crazy adventure and help you succeed.
In case you’re wondering, these are the basic steps to follow before you apply for a creative writing MFA. Of course, this is just a general overview. Once you’ve begun your studies, you’ll have the opportunity to take advanced courses in a range of disciplines including:
- The History Of English Literature
- Comparative Literature
- And many more!
If you’ve made it this far, congratulations. You’re now equipped to begin your studies at the Institute. Creative Writing is one of the most popular departments at the University of Michigan, so be sure to get in touch with us at this stage if you’d like to learn more or are interested in applying.