Over at The Review Review website, Randy Susan Myers has posted this group of excerpts from books she
read studied that she considers her homemade MFA. We’ve discussed the eternal question of “To MFA or Not to MFA” before here, so we’ll let that dog lie for the moment. But Myers’ point is that if you’re uninterested in, unwilling or unable to suffer the slings and arrows of a graduate program in writing, you can build your own program.
Find books that you like as a start. Read through the first pages of books that interest you (you can usually do this online, but always in the store). If you like the approach, get the book and study it. Don’t just read through it. Study it. Take notes, make yourself write papers about the things you’ve learned. Commit them to memory. Then move on.
There are also other shorter, non-academic programs at writers’ centers and public libraries–and of course through the Veterans Writing Project–for people who aren’t interested in getting the academic credential but are interested in studying in a more formalized setting.
Finally, you could get into a writing group. Find a small number of other writers who are willing to share their works and their insights on yours. Build your own workshop.
But the most important thing is simply to write. If you’re not writing, you’re not a writer. So get to it.