For many writers, a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in creative writing is the right next step for their writing career -- refining their skills, facilitating relationships, and opening professional doors. But what is an MFA in creative writing?
An MFA in creative writing is a graduate-level degree program that focuses on the development and mastery of writing skills in various genres, such as fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and screenwriting. Most MFA in creative writing programs include a combination of workshops, seminars, and classes in which students refine their writing skills through critical analysis and feedback from their peers and faculty. Students are also exposed to a variety of literary works and are encouraged to explore different styles and techniques in their own writing.
Why You Should Invest in Yourself with an MFA in Creative Writing
If you're a writer with a passion for literature, an MFA in creative writing can help you take your craft to the next level. An MFA program gives you the opportunity to study with renowned writers, receive feedback on your work, and develop your own skills. In addition, an MFA program can help you build your network of contacts in the literary world and prepare you for your career after graduation.
Some of the benefits of getting an MFA in creative writing include:
- The opportunity to improve your writing skills. An MFA program will give you the opportunity to study with renowned writers and receive feedback on your work. This can help you improve your writing skills and develop your own unique voice.
- The chance to build a network in the industry. An MFA program will give you the opportunity to meet other writers and likeminded professionals and build relationships with them. This can be helpful in terms of both personal and professional development.
- The resources to prepare for your writing career. An MFA program can help you prepare for a career in writing by giving you the skills and knowledge you need to succeed in the literary world. This includes learning about the publishing industry, marketing your work, and networking with other writers.
How to Choose the Creative Writing Program for You
When choosing a creative writing program, it’s important to research several potential MFA programs to make the most informed decision. As you’re researching, be sure to start early, connect with an admissions counselor to have your questions answered, and trust your gut as you compare programs.
When you look at more than one program, it can be hard to know which factors should have the heaviest influence on your decision. Consider the faculty; are they accomplished writers who are passionate about teaching? Evaluate the curriculum; is it tailored to your interests and goals? Ensure the location of the program is feasible for you,
- whether you’ll be commuting, relocating, or completing the program online, and finally, compare the cost of the program to ensure it aligns with your budget.
What Can You Do with an MFA in Creative Writing?
If the question, ‘what can I do with an MFA in creative writing?’ has crossed your mind, this article helps answer that question and others that you’ve pondered.
An MFA in creative writing can open the door for you to work in a wide variety of industries and roles. You might choose to become a novelist, a government grant writer, a creative writing teacher, or a content writer, among many other potential opportunities. Let’s discuss some of the most common MFA in creative writing jobs.
Work in a Creative Industry
While becoming a novelist or published author is probably the most well-known, there are many ways writers can apply their education and craft in a creative industry. Common paths in this industry for those with an MFA in creative writing include becoming an author, technical writer, editor-in-chief, journalist, and copywriter. We’ll discuss a few of those careers here.
Published Author or Novelist
For many students who pursue their MFA in creative writing, getting their books, poems, articles, or essays published is the end goal. Published authors can share their perspectives with people all over the world while making an income. However, it’s important to note that getting published can be challenging due to the competitive nature of the industry. If you aspire to publish your work, prepare for some rejection along the way to success. Chicken Soup for the Soul was rejected 144 times before a publisher took it on; Lisa Genova’s Still Alice was rejected about 100 times. Both are now best-sellers.
Technical writers write about complex and prescribed topics, simplifying the information and making it easier to understand. Technical writers draft user manuals, product specifications, training materials, white papers, and other technical documents. They often work in the software, engineering, hardware, manufacturing, or science industries.
Editor-in-Chief at a Publication
An editor-in-chief, or EIC, has ultimate responsibility for the success of a magazine or other publication. They are responsible for determining the editorial direction, overseeing staff, and directing the production of all content. Most EICs start as editors and then advance into the EIC role as they gain experience and build their reputation through their contributions.
Work in the Legal Sector
Many creative writers go on to work in the legal sector as grant writers, editors, copywriters, bloggers, journalists, or technical writers. Legal writers function differently than those in creative industries and must be comfortable aligning with the perspective of the agency they serve and write ambiguously when the circumstances require it.
Government Grant Writer
Government grant writers research and write grant proposals for non-profit organizations, individuals, or for-profit companies who meet specific criteria, helping them access funds to further their programs. Grant writing can be an especially rewarding job as the outcome of a rewarded grant can be as monumental as feeding the hungry, fighting racism, rescuing abandoned animals, or mentoring at-risk youth.
Because grants are competitive, grant writers must be able to convey a program’s tangible and intangible impact and accurately depict how grant funds could change the reach or results of the program. Simply put, a successful grant writer shares why an entity should receive funds over those it's competing with through well-written responses to prescribed questions.
Legal editors review and edit legal documents like contracts, briefs, and pleadings to ensure they are clear, concise, and accurate. In most cases, legal editors are employed by law firms, government agencies, and corporations, but they can also work independently as consultants, establishing relationships and selling their services directly to the firms that need them.
Legal copywriters draft legal content for law firms, corporations, and government agencies, including website copy, sales letters, marketing materials, email campaigns, social media posts, blog posts, and legal documents. Legal copywriters require a unique skill set: they must have excellent creative writing skills combined with a strong understanding of the law, in order to excel in this role. Legal copywriters can be employed by agencies leveraging their services or they can be self-employed and work on a freelance basis.
Educate the Next Generation of Writers
A career teaching writing to others can be rewarding and fulfilling, allowing you to share your love for writing while helping others to achieve success in this field. There are opportunities to teach students of all ages, from primary school students to adult learners.
Adjunct English Composition/Creative Writing Professor
An MFA in creative writing may qualify you to teach English composition or creative writing at the college level. In order to advance to a professor position, you’ll typically need a ‘terminal’ degree or Ph.D. and published works, but many adjunct professors work on advancing their education while they teach.
Creative Writing Teacher
Creative writing teachers help others refine their craft by teaching the art of writing, helping students develop their imagination and providing transparent feedback. They can teach in a variety of settings
- In public or private primary or secondary schools
- In adult or alternative learning centers
- Independently, by teaching online creative or content writing courses or leading face-to-face writing challenges and classes
Where you choose to work as a creative writing teacher will depend on which age group you’re most passionate about working with and what kind of writing you’d like to teach.
Pursue a Career in Business
While it’s not always top of mind for creative writing students, there is ample opportunity for writers to add value in the business realm. Master’s in creative writing jobs are often characterized by competitive pay and benefits and faster job growth, making them a great choice for new grads and experienced writers alike.
Public Relations Specialist
Public relations specialists (PR specialists), build and manage an organization’s reputation with the public by drafting and implementing communication strategies. PR specialists plan and execute public relations campaigns, manage social media accounts, communicate with the public on behalf of the organization, and respond to media inquiries. When you see a company representative making a statement at a press conference, it’s most likely somebody on their PR team behind the microphone.
Content or Proposal Writer
Content writers create blog posts, website copy, white papers, social media posts, email content, and more. They can work for a single employer and specialize in writing content for that industry or organization. In other cases, content writers work as independent contractors, writing for multiple clients or industries. Most content writers do specialize in specific industries where they build knowledge and expertise.
Proposal writers draft proposals for businesses and are typically tasked with understanding the needs of the client, developing a strategy for the proposal, writing the proposal, and presenting it to the client. Proposal writers are most often employed by a business.
Take the Next Step with Lindenwood Online!
Are you a writer with a passion for storytelling? Do you want to take your writing to the next level, increasing your earning potential and opportunity for advancement? If so, you might be a candidate for an MFA in writing at Lindenwood University Online. The flexible online format, experienced faculty, and supportive community make our program a great option for students from all walks of life. Take the first step by requesting more information from Lindenwood University Online today.