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Cultivating Your Craft in the Digital Age: The elements of the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

Published on Thursday, April 1, 2010 by

so09_net_neutrality_internet_mapHave you always wanted a Master of Fine Arts but due to family, financial and/or other reasons you just never thought it possible?  Well if you do the right things at the very least you can write your own Master Fine Arts, build a strong portfolio of work and network with known and noted authors.

A review of Master of Fine Art programs identifies the following key elements:

1.   A reading list

2.  8-10 written works per every 10-15 weeks

3.  Writer workshops

4.  Individual conferences with mentors and readers

5.  Lecture and craft discussions with faculty/leaders

6.  Creation of an individual education plan

There are several MFA reading lists on the web:

San Jose State University Reading List
City University New York
Reading List for MFA and Ph.D.
University of Missouri at St. Louis
UNCW Creative Writing Reading List

Writer’s Workshop

The Writer’s Studio
The Elizabeth Ayres Center for Creative Writing
MidAmerican Review Workshop

Workshops and Critiques

Coffeehouse for Writers
Internet Writing Workshop

Why would you consider pursuing the above options instead of getting an MFA the traditional route?  Because of cost, family obligations, and that you are unable to meet the requirements of a residency due to work obligations.  Becuase of this you may also want to ask yourself, if you are pursuing the “on your own” MFA option, can I commit to a rigorous schedule of writing.  This takes a considerable amount of self-discipline.  One suggestion is to set up a blog, get an audience who will give you feedback and have expectations that you will regularly post to this blog.

At the heart of a creative writing program are the courses that the student takes to build his/her craft.  Here are opportunities to take such courses free or nearly free:

Examples of student MFAs are here:

City University of Queens college

MFA Webblog

The Diploma Guide offers information on their website for free classes.  The educational portal provides information on ten universities which offer free online courses.   The Writers Village provides courses free with membership.  Membership is $99 for the first year and $69 thereafter.    They have new courses starting every week from short story writing to poetry, comedy writing to screen writing.

Key to building your program would be identifying the best editing tools and sites that will help you design strategies to improve your work. Some of these are:

EasyBib which I use to create citations for those works which I use a great deal of references and resources.

Ed2010 is a community of young magazine editors and magazine-editor wannabes who want to learn more about the field so we can fulfill our dreams of landing top editing and writing positions in the magazine industry.

My Writers Circle is  a forum where writers can exchange tips, career information and critiques via the forum.

Another great site to gain access to writers and their writing and thought on writing is WritersFM.“Writers FM is an online radio station created by writers, for writers — streaming LIVE 24/7.It broadcasts author interviews, writing prompts, upbeat music and mini mysteries throughout the day.”

Writer unboxed is a site that provides a venue for author interviews and bills itself as being about the craft and business of genre fiction.

Another site I think I am going to fall in love with ..is Grammarly. This is a site you pay for and seems quite worth it as I reviewed the membership levels.   I will be running a test of Grammarly for the next three months and get back to all of you on my further use of it.

One Response
    • Cathy,
      Thanks for doing all this research on doing your own MFA. I think I will look into many of these resources and these should be posted on the forum as well. We should set up our own MFA program at Milkwood.

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