Writer working Main More than a few MFA teachers talk about the politics of their English departments in such a way that it sounds like an episode of House of Cards. Criticizing students, fellow teachers, the program, or even the effectiveness of creative writing programs in general — it has to be a careful dance. One ex-teacher, now freed of such considerations, has let it rip in an article called "Things I can say about MFA writing programs now that I no longer teach in one." In his article for The Stranger, Ryan Boudinot says: “I recently left a teaching position in a master of fine arts creative-writing program. I had a handful of students whose work changed my life. The vast majority of my students were hardworking, thoughtful people devoted to improving their craft despite having nothing interesting to express and no interesting way to express it. My hope for them was that they would become better readers. And then there were students whose work was so awful that it literally put me to sleep. Here are some things I learned from these experiences.”

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Is an MFA in Creative Writing Worth It?

The pros and cons of an MFA in Creative Writing

On the one hand, getting your MFA will (ideally) give you access to a strong community of writers, mentorship from published authors and poets, and the time and space to develop your own voice. On the other hand, it'll cost you a boatload of money (unless you're able to get full funding from the institution), and you'll graduate with the qualifications to — what? — hop from city to city as an undervalued adjunct and never pay off those loans? Then again, having a couple years to work on your craft while surrounded by supportive readers does sound like Paradise. Hmmmmm. Decisions!

Writers and teachers give their opinions on the MFA system

So,... is it worth it? Should you get your MFA?  Flavorwire asked 27 accomplished writers whether they thought an MFA was necessary, helpful, and worth the expense. Click HERE to read what they had to say. Is an MFA out of the question for you because of financial concerns or work/family obligations? Read our article about building an MFA curriculum for yourself (DIY-style).

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Is it possible to make your own MFA (Master of Fine Arts) in Creative Writing? Probably not, but we outline a plan that will make you a better writer if you stick with it long enough.

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I'm flawed. You're flawed. We're all flawed.

You know the feeling. Someone critiques your writing; you flash them the evil eyes and think, "You complete moron! You've missed the point of my piece entirely, and of course you did-- you're an idiot and I hate everything you've written anyways, so what do you know?" First you wish them bodily harm, then you start scheming your revenge, and then finally you think to yourself "Hmmm. Maybe they have a point?" The other day I posted a link to a Poetry Foundation article about the worth of MFA programs. While I've never been "officially" enrolled in any creative writing program, I did take three MFA workshop classes in poetry as a post baccalaureate at Portland's lovely State University when my schedule (and $$!!!) allowed.

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The Harriet Blog (which is affiliated with the Poetry Foundation) posted an article today called "After the MFA: Some Questions for Jeremy Hoevenaar" where 2 poets discuss the value (in its many forms) of an MFA program.  Jeremy Hoevenaar gives generous answers about his experience within an MFA curriculum, community, and mind-frame. He also talks about the program in hindsight, its lasting effect on his writing process, and what the hell he's doing now with the degree.

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Editor’s note: The following is excerpted from the preface to Every Writer Has a Thousand Faces by David Biespiel. David is an award-winning poet, teacher, and president of the Attic Institute— which provides instruction, editing, workshops, weekend-retreats, and more for both professional and aspiring writers.

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If you only read one sentence in this book I hope it’s this one: A lot of the time just sticking with it is what this whole business of writing, making art, playing music, making songs, performing, and living a creative life is all about.

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BookBaby president Brian Felsen recently interviewed literary heartthrob Jonathan Lethem (winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, MacArthur Fellow, and New York Times best seller). In this clip, Jonathan talks about whether or not good writing can be "taught" and the benefits of creative writing programs.

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