Is A Creative Writing Degree Worth Your Time (And Money)?

  • by Hannah Collins
  • March 20, 2017

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I got my Creative Writing degree by accident. My college, in the UK, was unusual in requiring first-year students to pick an additional subject in their first year – partly to widen their interests, and partly as an escape route if their first choice wasn’t everything they hoped . My major was Fine Art, so naturally I scanned down the list of related arts subjects that A) I was vaguely competent in and B) didn’t clash with anything else on my timetable. Out of everything, Creative Writing seemed the best answer. I figured it would be fun distraction from the studio during the first year of my degree. Little was I to know that I’d be graduating with both subjects emblazoned on my degree certificate.

For most people, a Creative Writing degree isn’t something you sleepily sign up to like I did. Since you’re reading this article, you’re obviously thinking a lot harder about the pros and cons than I ever did. I can tell you straight off the bat that a degree is not an iron-clad guarantee of career success, or even enhancement, nor an automatic ticket to fame and fortune as a writer.

That’s not to say that a Creative Writing degree won’t help your career (especially if you’ll need to pitch for work, like a ghost or travel writer ), but it’s far from a sure thing. Really, the best question isn’t where a Creative Writing degree can take you next , but what it can do for your craft and method.

To help you with this all-important decision, I’ll take you through the pros and cons, as well as some alternative paths that may meet your needs just as well (if not better).

Pros of a Creative Writing degree

1. you’ll be part of a community of writers.

Half (or more) of the appeal of college is socialization. Even if you study part-time; seminars, lectures, group study and extracurricular activities will keep you busy both socially and intellectually. Being regularly entrenched in a fertile learning environment with so many other like-minded people can develop and grow your skills – both writerly and socially – exponentially. You’ll encounter different people with vastly different experiences, tastes, and writing styles to you, and you’ll find unexpected sources influencing and evolving your work.

You’ll also be networking almost constantly, and without the usual unpleasant effort of finding a suitable event. This may sound trivial, but you’ll be learning alongside the influential writers, editors, agents, and reviewers of the future – people who are only going to grow in influence as time wears on. While there’s no guarantee you’ll meet the next huge publisher, you may well form a relationship that will benefit you down the line. Even passing acquaintance makes you a more known quantity when someone is checking manuscripts or organizing a literary fair down the line. And all that’s before the opportunities you’ll have to write for college newspapers, literary collections, and reading events.

2. You’ll be given regular feedback on your work

Criticism can be double-edged sword, but we’ll just focus on the positive side, for now. Unless you already have a bank of reliable and relatively unbiased alpha and beta readers at your disposal, it’s likely that, beyond school teachers, you’ve been relying on family and friends for feedback. The problem with that is that, no matter how much they swear to be as honest as possible, they’re going to be far more inclined to pull their punches when your work really needs beating into shape.

Now, there will be some in your seminars or critique groups who may show you similar kindness, but there will certainly be others who won’t – for better or worse. The thin-skinned may find this a rough ride, but they’ll also find that it almost unavoidably toughens them up. As well as your peers, you’ll of course have the opportunity to pick the brain of your tutors and lecturers, who can sometimes offer counsel worth the steep price of admission by itself.

You’ll also be asked to critique and evaluate the work of others, which not only sharpens your own skills and powers of observation, but will help you define your personal brand .

3. You’ll read. A lot

Bookworms, rejoice! It goes without saying that the key to great writing is reading great writing. A Creative Writing degree will have you reading for study as well as just pleasure, and reading a lot of things you might not normally choose.

A less obvious benefit is that you’ll also read a lot of poor-quality and early work from other writers. Nothing will help you catch lazy decisions, easy clichés, and damaging writing devices quicker than looking out for them in the work of others. Plus, seeing someone else’s work go from first-draft mess to fourth-draft promise will reassure you that your own early efforts can be redeemed.

4. You’ll also write. A lot

It seems almost redundant to say this, but doing a Creative Writing degree will have you doing, well, a lot of creative writing. Probably a good 1000+ words per week. Yes, it can be draining , but writing, like any other skill, needs a lot of practice, and you’ll certainly get that.

5.  You’ll learn discipline

The rigorous structure of education – whether full or part-time – can be ideal for those of us who thrive within that kind of environment, and you might be surprised to find yourself in that category. Actively receiving feedback, week after week, incentivizes good writing behavior, and having others depend on you for the same will hone your study of, and appreciation for, the craft.

Cons of a Creative Writing degree

1.  college is expensive.

Let’s talk about the gauche subject of money, shall we? America has both the most sought-after and most expensive colleges in the world, ranging at the time of writing between about $11,000 and about $45,000, depending on the length of the course and whether you need bed and board while you study. For many of us who are less financially fortunate, this changes the question from, ‘Should I get a degree?’ to ‘Is it really worth me getting a degree?’

Unfortunately, as I mentioned earlier, there’s no absolute guarantee that pouring your hard-earned savings into a costly course will yield tangible results, and if money is your biggest barrier, then you may want to consider the cheaper alternatives abroad (particularly Canada), or the other options I’ll be sharing soon.

2. Not all the feedback you receive will be useful or constructive

Remember that double-edged sword? Having your work regularly scrutinized can be hugely beneficial, but bear in mind that you’ll be getting a mixed bag each week. We creative people tend to also be a little precious with our work, so turning in something you’re proud of only to have it harshly savaged by your class in an unfriendly (possibly caffeine-deprived) attack can be hard to take, especially if your creative writing journey is in its infancy. The worst part is they might all be wrong, too, as sometimes the pressure of having to contribute something to the class can induce unnecessary opinions.

3. You might not be suited to college

We all learn differently and flourish in different environments. I started my Fine Art degree with a class of about 35—40. By graduation, that group had been whittled down to under 30. College isn’t for everyone, and I don’t mean that those people are in any way stupider or less motivated. The intensive, results-driven, traditional academic system doesn’t work for everyone.

4. The pressure to succeed could make or break you

This goes back to harsh critiquing and the college environment not being everyone’s cup of tea. The students that dropped out of my Fine Art course did so for many different reasons. Some felt they’d picked the wrong course, or even the wrong college. Some felt homesick. Others sadly crumbled under the pressure – which can feel substantial. A lot of that pressure comes from your tutors pushing you to succeed (sometimes to their definition of success), but a lot of it can come from yourself, which is far trickier to deal with.

5. Creative Writing may not be the best subject for your creative writing

Creative writing can be a beneficial degree for writers, but it’s often best as an accompaniment to another subject. It’s possible that the wider knowledge of a Literature degree, the expanded knowledge base of a History or Law degree, the non-fiction applications of a Journalism degree, or even the technical thinking of an Engineering degree will benefit your work more. Before settling on a Creative Writing degree as default, ask yourself what your writing (and your life) really needs.


There may have been a time when a college education was not only highly affordable, but reliably opened doors to well-paid and suitable jobs. Sadly, that’s just not the case anymore. Happily, there’s also more in the way of alternative (and cheaper) educational paths than ever before. To ensure you’re making a totally informed decision, it wouldn’t hurt to consider the other options available to you, such as:

  • Joining a creative writing group ,
  • Starting a creative writing group,
  • Enrolling in a community college course,
  • Getting a Writing Certificate ,
  • Taking an online class ,
  • Joining a low-residency creative writing program ,
  • Starting a blog or becoming a journalist (learn on your feet!)

To degree or not to degree

It can be just as hard to decide against pursuing a degree as it is to start one. If you feel that something is holding you back from reaching your full potential as a writer, there’s a lot to be said for, well, just being a writer. Read a lot of books. Start a blog. Go out and experience the world. Meet new people. And write – as much as possible. If you’re still feeling stuck in a rut, maybe a degree – or one of the alternatives – could help you.

Ultimately, you get out of a degree what you put into it. Do thorough research, visit as many campuses as you can, listen to what others have to say about certain courses and/or tutors, and – most importantly – figure out exactly what you want.

If you’re committed to improving as a writer, a Creative Writing degree is one of the best places to do so. If you’re not, all you’re really getting is a really expensive piece of paper. Of course, the best way to find out more is to ask those who know. If you have a Creative Writing degree, are currently studying for one, or just want to find out what they’re like, let me know in the comments.

For more advice on honing your writing as part of a group, check out Why Joining A Writing Group May Be The Best Thing You Do All Year , or for a choice of non-college classes, try 10 Online Creative Writing Courses For Every Kind Of Writer .

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Hannah Collins

Hannah Collins

4 thoughts on “is a creative writing degree worth your time (and money)”.

is college creative writing hard

As you said, a Creative Writing degree is no guarantee of success as a writer. But, here in the States, no degree is guarantee of anything, including employment in a degree field. I have friends with degrees that don’t come close to the jobs they have. With the exception of Law and Medicine, I don’t think there is a degree program (especially at what we call the undergrad level) that really prepares a student for a job in any particular area better than any other degree program. That is, Bachelor’s Degrees are all pretty much the same.

That said, I’m now in graduate school pursuing a Master’s Degree in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing/Fiction. It will allow me to teach, should I need or desire to go that route, or to write professionally (by virtue of the demands it makes on clarity and honing craft). Most of the writers I admire have Master’s degrees either in English or in Fine Arts/Creative Writing. Does that mean I’ll automatically make a spot beside them when I graduate? No. But, it just may be the deciding factor in whether or not I have the skill to do so. Are there successful writers with no college at all? Yes. Just as there are successful writers whose credentials read like alphabet soup. I think there is happy medium to be had and I think everybody needs to figure out where that is for themselves.

In the end, I think the decision of whether to attend grad school for a Creative Writing degree should depend almost entirely upon your skill level. If you’re satisfied taking a chance as you work through your learning curve, cool. If you want a bit more guidance in the most efficient way to do so, by all means enroll in a good writing program. At the very least, you’ll be employable by every company on the planet that fears putting their brand on poor grammar and lazy usage… which I’m still assuming is all of them.

My wife works for a company that demands a Master’s degree for their managers (they don’t specify a subject, which tells me that it isn’t really necessary, just a way to thin the herd of applicants). Increasingly, employers in the States are doing this. With this in mind, you may just as well get some real personal satisfaction out of your degree program. And what better way to do that than to spend all your time reading and writing?

is college creative writing hard

Hi Michael,

Thanks for the comprehensive insight. That’s really interesting to hear in regards to Master’s requirements for recruitment. I wonder if that will sway opinion more in favour of getting a degree for those reading this.

You’re right – if you love doing something, doing it intensively and frequently while becoming more qualified in it sounds ideal. I certainly enjoyed it, but it was still quite draining at times. That being said, I was doing both a Fine Art AND Creative Writing course, so my creative juices were stretched to the limit!

I completely understand the challenges you faced! Congrats, by the way, for doing it! Too many people think of FA/CW degrees as easy. But I’ll match the work necessary to comprehend most philosophy with that of Quantum Physics, any day. It’s all the same process, just different signifiers. The result is, you’re really smart and the world, according to Cormac McCarthy, became personal to you. In the end, that’s the most compelling reason of all to pursue education.

is college creative writing hard

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is college creative writing hard

I was lucky enough to take my first creative writing class in high school, and I was instantly hooked. I went on to take classes in college, and then even after I graduated. So, if you're about to start your first creative writing class, I am so excited for you.

But, what is creative writing class, anyway? How does that even work? When I took my first class, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. Creative writing is not taught like your typical school subject, but it's not a complete blow-off elective either. And of course, every teacher does things in their own way.

I also didn't realize until I took one how amazingly valuable a creative writing class can be. I used to think that writing was purely a solo activity. You sat at your desk and put some words down on paper, and that was that. But the truth is that writing classes are great ways to build a community, learn some tricks of the trade, and produce new work. No matter how you're embarking on your creative writing journey, there are some things that you can expect to find in any creative writing class you take:

Other people are going to be reading your work.

Most creative writing classes are based on the roundtable system, in which your fellow students will read your work and provide commentary. Wait, don't freak out! It can be really daunting to share your work with others, especially for the first time, but you may come to love the roundtable. Most people will be super respectful of your efforts, and it's helpful to be able to test ideas out on different readers. Plus, sometimes the hardest part of being a writer is recognizing what is working, and you'll be amazed to learn which parts of your writing your peers love. Trust me, I always leave a round table feeling inspired and empowered.

You will have deadlines.

Deadlines can be both a blessing and a curse. For me, having a deadline helps me get the work done. But, I acknowledge, they can be stressful.

You will have to write new material.

I think some people expect that they can just coast through on writing they've already done, or that they can just work on one short story and submit revisions of it again and again. There may be some classes where that's okay, but even so, one of the most fulfilling parts of creative writing classes is challenging yourself to write something new, and to keep writing.

You will probably have reading assignments.

This was a huge surprise to me when I first started taking creative writing classes. One of the best ways to get better at writing is to read, and many creative writing teachers will give you reading assignments.

Creative writing class is a great place to step out of your comfort zone.

Try writing in a new genre! Try writing a screenplay or a poem or a novel! I like to think of creative writing class as the writer's version of a science lab, where you can experiment on anything you want and see how it turns out. You're going to be delightfully surprised by what you're able to do.

You might get prompts, and you might not.

Most of my creative writing teachers have been super lenient with writing assignments. In my experience, teachers have left the decision up to me, which can be both freeing and intimidating. So before you start class, it might be a good idea to the think about what you want to write. (But also remember, it's always okay to ask your teacher for help if you're stumped!)

On the flip side, sometimes teachers do throw in a prompt or two, and it's easy to feel boxed in. In that case, think of the prompt as a challenge, and try to stretch the box in whatever way you can. Don't put too much pressure on yourself to stick to the prompt exactly. Just try to have fun!

You don't need any previous writing experience.

There are going to be some people in your class who have been writing since they emerged from the womb, and some people who haven't written anything in their life. Wherever you're at is where you're supposed to be. (Though, of course, more advanced classes will have prerequisites.)

You will make some of your best friends in creative writing class.

Creative writing classes are amazing communities. The work of writing is usually a solitary an difficult one, so it feels amazing to connect with other people who are going through the same process. Plus, sharing your work will give you a super tight bond.

You're going to read some stuff you don't like, and that's okay.

You'll find a huge variety in the writers taking class with you. Every writer has different tastes, different styles, and different skill-levels. Not everything you read is going to be right for you as a reader, but that doesn't mean it's bad. Remember, even if it's not your usual cup of tea, have an open mind and be respectful. Concentrate on the craft of the piece and giving constructive criticism. And always find something positive to say.

Not everything you submit has to be perfect.

Of course, put your best foot forward and work hard on the pieces you submit to class. But you'll save yourself a lot of heartache if you keep in mind that each piece you submit is just a draft , not the final version. The point is to find things about it to improve! There's really no such thing as a "mistake."

You don't have to be a professional writer to get a lot out of creative writing class.

My high school creative writing teacher used to have us start and end each semester by filling out a self-evaluation. One of the questions was what our commitment-level was, ranging from "Hobby" to "Passion." You don't have to be at the passion level to enjoy a creative writing class. In my opinion, creative writing classes are great no matter your level of experience.

But you'll only get as much out of it as you put into it.

The point of creative writing class is not to get a good grade. Your own sense of fulfillment is contingent upon the time and care you put into your assignments, class discussion, and review of your peers' work.

Don't forget to have fun!

One of the classic traps is to take writing too seriously. Don't lose sight of how freakin' fun it is to be creative.

is college creative writing hard

is college creative writing hard

Do You Need a Creative Writing Degree to Succeed as a Writer?

by Melissa Donovan | Mar 7, 2023 | Creative Writing | 50 comments

creative writing degree

Do you need a creative writing degree?

Young and new writers often ask whether they need a creative writing degree in order to become an author or professional writer.

I’ve seen skilled and talented writers turn down opportunities or refuse to pursue their dreams because they feel their lack of a creative writing degree means they don’t have the credibility necessary to a career in writing.

Meanwhile, plenty of writers with no education, minimal writing skills, and scant experience in reading and writing are self-publishing, freelance writing, and offering copywriting services.

It’s an oft-asked question: Do you need a creative writing degree to succeed as a writer? Is it okay to write and publish a book if you don’t have a degree or if your degree is in something other than English or the language arts?

Before I go further, I should reveal that although I did earn a degree in creative writing, I don’t think a degree is necessary. But there is a caveat to my position on this issue: While I don’t think a degree is necessary, I certainly think it’s helpful. I also think that some writers will have a hard time succeeding without structured study and formal training whereas others are self-disciplined and motivated enough to educate themselves to the extent necessary to establish a successful writing career.

Five Things I Learned in Creative Writing Class

Do you need a creative writing degree.

First of all, a degree is not necessary to success in many fields, including writing. There are plenty of examples of individuals who became wildly successful and made meaningful contributions without any college degree whatsoever: Bill Gates, Abraham Lincoln, and Walt Disney, to name a few.

In the world of writing, the list of successful authors who did not obtain a degree (let alone a creative writing degree) is vast. Here is a small sampling: Louisa May Alcott, Maya Angelou, Jane Austen, William Blake, Ray Bradbury, Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens), Charles Dickens, Ernest Hemingway, Jack London, Edgar Allen Poe, Beatrix Potter, and JD Salinger.

So you obviously do not need a creative writing degree in order to succeed. After all, some of the greatest writers in history didn’t have a degree. Why should you?

A Creative Writing Degree is Not a Bad Idea

On the other hand, the degree definitely won’t hurt your chances. In fact, it will improve your chances. And if you struggle with writing or self-discipline, then the process of earning a degree will be of great benefit to you.

A college education might indeed be necessary for a particular career, such as a career in law or medicine. In fields of study where a degree is not a requirement, it often prepares you for the work ahead by teaching you specific skills and techniques and by forcing you to become knowledgeable about your field.

However, there is an even greater value in the the process of earning a degree. You become knowledgeable and educated. You learn how to learn, how to work without close supervision, and you are exposed to the wisdom of your instructors as well as the enthusiasm and support of your peers. College is a great environment for development at any age or in any field.

Earning a degree is also a testament to your drive and ability to complete a goal without any kind of immediate reward or gratification. College is not easy. It’s far easier to get a full-time job and buy lots of cool stuff. It’s more fun to spend your nights and weekends hanging out with your friends than staying in and studying. A college degree is, in many ways, a symbol representing your capacity to set out and accomplish a long-term goal.

Know Yourself

If you possess strong writing skills and are somewhat of an autodidact (a person who is self-taught), then you may not need a degree in creative writing. For some such people, a degree is completely unnecessary. On the other hand, if your writing is weak or if you need guidance and would appreciate the help of instructors and peers, maybe you do need a creative writing degree.

If you’re planning on going to college simply because you want to earn a degree and you hope to be a writer someday, you might as well get your degree in creative writing since that’s what you’re passionate about. On the other hand, if you hope to write biographies of famous actors and directors and you already write well, you might be better off studying film (and possibly minoring in creative writing).

You may be the kind of person who needs the validation of a degree. Maybe you’re an excellent writer but you’d feel better putting your work out there if you could back it up (even in your own mind) with that piece of paper that says you have some expertise in this area. Or you might be the kind of person who is confident enough to plunge into the career of a writer without any such validation.

You might find that time and money are barriers to earning a degree. If you have responsibilities that require you to work full time and if you’re raising a family, obtaining a degree might not be in the cards, either in terms of time or money. You might be better off focusing what little free time you have on reading and writing. But there are other options if you’ve got your heart set on a creative writing degree: look for accredited online colleges, find schools that offer night and weekend classes, and open yourself to the idea that you can take ten years rather than four years to complete your higher education.

Finally, some people have a desire to get a degree but they feel they’re too old. I personally think that’s a bunch of hogwash. You’re never too old to learn or obtain any kind of education. When I was just out of high school, I attended a college with many students who were middle-aged and older. I had tremendous respect for them, and they brought a lot of wisdom to our classes, which balanced out the youthful inexperience of my other, much younger classmates. I don’t care if you’re eighteen, forty-two, or seventy, if you have a hankering to do something, go do it!

Making Tough Decisions

Ultimately, the decision rests with each of us. Do you need a creative writing degree? Only you can answer that question.

If you’re still not sure, then check with a local school (a community college is a good place to start) and make an appointment with an adviser in the English Department. If you’re in high school, get in touch with your school’s career counselor. Sometimes, these professionals can help you evaluate your own needs to determine which is the best course of action for you. But in the end, make sure whatever decision you make about your education is one that you’ve carefully weighed and are comfortable with.

And whether you earn a degree in creative writing or not, keep writing!

Most Successful People Who Never Went to College Famous Autodidacts

Ready Set Write a Guide to Creative Writing


Nicole Rushin

I think in some cases it can hinder or stifle creativity. I am actually glad I did not go to school for writing. When I hear the words creative and degree together they don’t mesh for me. You can go to school and learn about punctuation and grammar, but creativity comes from real life and growth and learning through experience. Just my opinion – but I only learned about poetry in climbing tree.

Melissa Donovan

Hi Nicole. I appreciate your thoughts on the matter, but since you didn’t go to school for writing, how can you know that creativity cannot come through academic means or through study? I strongly believe that a degree is unnecessary for success in writing, but I personally found that it sped up my development and did in fact stimulate my creativity. Specifically, I would say that being surrounded by creative people (other students, in particular) is excellent for promoting creative thinking. Also, writing is only one small piece of what a successful writer must do. In fact, I learned very little about punctuation and grammar during my time in the creative writing program and I learned a lot about my own creative process. Probably the biggest benefit for me, personally, was exposure to many wonderful authors and poets that I otherwise might not have discovered. While I don’t think college is necessary, I have to strongly disagree that it stifles creativity. But I do respect your opinion and perhaps you had some experience in school or observing other writers in which it did stifle creativity. I can only speak from my own experience, which was highly positive.


Hey all! I’m torn too: I went to art school for 4 years for a degree in painting. I learned a lot and am grateful, because art school added: ways to be cognizant of art, writing about my art and the work of others, and how to be a really great critic.

Only problem was, in a lot of ways, art school also beat down my self confidence and robbed me of some of my intrinsic motivation to make art. It became less spontaneous and more cerebral.

As of late, I’ve turned to creative writing for a creative outlet that has not been…well, I won’t say ruined, so I’ll go with, hasn’t been tampered with. And I find myself in a place where I can definitely improve (A LOT!), but I’m not sure if a formal degree will do it. I am playing with the idea of taking some informal workshops though…

Do you think school for the visual arts is at all comparable to school for creative writing? Maybe it doesn’t help that the folks in my year of art school had some pretty nasty and rude people when it came to critiques!!!

Ray, thanks for sharing your experience. I was hoping someone would offer a different perspective. I can understand how undergraduate work may seem to inhibit creativity and make the process more cerebral. This is where we get into an extremely hazy area of art and creativity. I believe that the spontaneous expressions come from our emotions and personal life experiences. They are strictly expressions. When we bring a cerebral quality to our work, we are usually looking to make a statement or observation. The former cannot be learned. It comes from the inside. The latter, however, is the result of critical thinking. I think it’s unfortunate that you did not find yourself in an educational setting that was positive and supportive. I am not sure how visual arts schools are similar or different from schools for creative writing. If you’re interested in pursuing creative writing, my suggestion would be to sign up for a class and try it out or request a meeting with someone in the creative writing department to get a sense of the program and the people in it.

One final note – it’s my personal opinion that people being rude or nasty during critiques is absolutely unacceptable. If there was an instructor present, I would say the responsibility falls to him or her. Their job is to moderate critique sessions and provide an environment conductive to positive development. I once signed up for a class, and within the first two weeks it was clear to me that the instructor did not have students’ best interests at heart. I dropped the class and the following semester, took the class with another teacher.


I can see where you’re coming from, but college is so very different from high school. The public secondary education focuses on “STEM” (science/math, basically) rather than STEAM (science/math and the arts — as in. a liberal education.) Most universities (public or private) encourage creative thought, even in degrees that are not considered ‘uselessly’ artistic by ignorant politicians. It depends on the university one attends (although I am transferring, the University of Oregon pushes for artistic and creative thought in all fields, and is not at all stifling) but, for the most part, a writing degree would not detach students from ‘real life’ experiences. Many students are living on their own and working full-time. Some are married and have a family and bills to pay, etc. Normally they would not have encouragement from highly knowledgeable faculty to pursue a craft that is not considered practical in the ‘real world.’


I agree with this. I started a masters in professional writing and took a class on nonfiction essays (creative essays) and I tell you what, I have NEVER produced so much writing, and so much good writing. In this class, we just BOUNCED off one another SO WELL. I left each class on fire with ideas and feedback. Best class I EVER took.

I have a BA in English and it’s helped me get paid to write. I freelance for companies, websites and magazines, and many of them love to see the degree. So, I stand out from the crowd a bit. It’s been helpful.

It’s amazing how being surrounded by other creative writers promotes our own creativity. I had the same experience when I was taking classes – I was constantly writing and coming up with ideas. I also feel that having a BA boosts my credibility as a self-employed writer. While I don’t think the BA is necessary, I also know some clients and employers consider it a requirement.

Marjorie McAtee

I have to agree with Allena. I have a BA in English and I think it really helps in the freelancing career. Many clients want to hire a professional qualified in English literature, journalism or another field related to writing.


I have pondered the idea of going back to uni and getting a degree in the Arts but I am not sure if it is entirely worth my time and money. I have, however, invested time in some short courses in writing, in order to learn about structure, pace and all those tools which you really need to understand to be able to write well.

There was also the added benefit of spending time with like-minded people who understood my passion and encouraged me to fulfill my potential. I may not have earned a piece of paper at the end of them but they were definitely worth my time.

It’s one of those decisions each person has to make for herself. I think it depends a lot on your personal goals, lifestyle, and available resources. I am a huge advocate for higher education. My general advice is always this: if you can go to school and want to, then do it. On the other hand, if you want to be a novelist and already have the skills and self-discipline, your time is probably better spent writing the novel.


I agree that a creative writing degree is not necessary but certainly very helpful. I believe getting proper education will always be good for anyone; whatever career you are in. As for me, I did not major in writing or in a course related to it because I was still undecided back then. I was passionate about writing but I just did not pursue it because I was afraid that I will not succeed as a writer.

Now, I really want to enroll myself in a writing course. While waiting for that opportunity, I try my best to self-educate through reading and learning from other writers.

I couldn’t agree more!

Michael K. Reynolds

A great topic for discussion! I have a Creative Writing degree but augmented it with writer’s conferences and online research. So much helpful information out there these days. I posted this on the Writing Platform Facebook page. Well done.

Writing is one of those crafts for which learning never ends. Thanks for sharing this post on Facebook. I appreciate it.


Hi, Melissa! I studied psychology for 4 years in university. I had to quit, so I didn’t get the degree, but studying there gave me lots of knowledge and I also met really awesome people – students and teachers, and I made great friends. You can’t have such things if you learn only by yourself at home. Meeting other writers while getting creative writing degree is probably one of most important reasons for doing it. Unless you don’t like humans at all 😀

Yes, and I would add that for many people, simply taking a few classes can make a world of difference. For example, one could take a creative writing class at a local community college. If a writer is working on their own and struggling with grammar, a single, basic course in English or writing may be just the solution. Taking a class here and there may or may not lead to pursuing a full degree, but it will definitely impart many benefits to any writer.


Great article! Very encouraging. Most of what I’ve read online has been much the opposite.

What would you say about majoring in an education degree not specific to English, while also pursuing a master’s in creative writing?…with the intent to eventually teach writing and social studies at a college level. I know that’s incredibly specific and probably abnormal, but I honesty do not want to major in English. I love literature and all forms of composition (even the dreaded academic essay) but my true interest lies in the intricacy of the human psyche and how the past has shaped our contemporary world..

Katie, it doesn’t really matter what I think because the choice you make will shape your life, not mine. Having said that, I think you’ve got a good, solid plan. Also, I think social studies and creative writing go together quite nicely.


I am in India. I just passed 10th grade. The thing is i want to become a writer/novelist/author. 3 reasons-

1. Writing is my passion 2. I have started writing( 1st novel almost complete). 3. I love literature. I mean that’s the only thing that gets inside my brain and i always excel in English.

So my question are– 1. Do i need to take up arts/humanities? ( because i want an environment with political views and literature and wont only be writing novels and stuff, i would also like to write for magazines etc. Doing arts will help me write and improve whereas in non-med i have study science which i have started hating though its easy but because of this realization that my writings will take years to reach the people ) Is it really that important?

2. Is a college degree in creative writing required? Will it help me?

Tanvir, plenty of writers carve out a career for themselves without a college degree at all, so you can go forth and study whatever you want in school. Certainly, a degree in creative writing will do a lot to make you a better writer, but you can also accomplish that on your own through work and study. If you are absolutely positive that all you want to do is become a writer, then I say study creative writing. I earned a BA in creative writing and I wasn’t even sure that’s what I wanted to do with my life. What I learned in college has served me well. However, and I can’t emphasize this enough, it is by no means a prerequisite. Good luck to you.


Hi I am a young women who has always been told that being a writer is not a very good feild to work in because you must move to the city, it is hard to support a family on the income,and it is hard to get a book published, or maintain relationships, if you are successful. I have always wanted to be a writer and now i am considering college but the thing is that i am not sure if i should become a nurse or writer or both? or neither and just try my luck with writing with out an education in the feild since i feal as though i am good enough at creative thinking.

Why would a writer have to move to the city? Writing is one of the few jobs that you can do from just about anywhere, as long as you have a computer (journalism being the exception). I also don’t see why it would be hard to maintain relationships if you are a successful writer (at least not any more than with any other career). I’m not sure where you’re getting this advice, but I think it’s a little inaccurate. It’s true that most writers don’t make a living from their work at first, which means they need a day job. It is hard to get a book published through a traditional publishing house, but it’s also possible. Self-publishing is another option.

If you truly want to be a writer, there’s no reason you shouldn’t pursue it. Will you make it? That’s entirely up to you.

I also think studying nursing and writing sounds like a good idea. You can double major in both or you could minor in creative writing. That will give you a solid nursing career for your day job and you can write on the side.


Hey there Melissa,

I’m planning to do a course in Creative Writing, and I’ve been looking everywhere for the perfect one. Which university did you do your Masters at? Were you completely satisfied? Was it everything you were expecting? I was looking out for a one year Masters course, most are for two.

I didn’t do a Masters, I did a BA, so I’m afraid I can’t give you any advice on which ones are good.


I think if you check on Google you will find a few. Most are two years like you said but the one year programs are usually scholarships and are kinda jam-packed. check carefully and you’d find what suits you for sure.

Melissa, keep the flag flying.


Surely, it is important to define what you mean by ‘writing’. If you want to have any chance of breaking into published work, tthen I would say a writing degree is a prerequisite. If you are writing for a small group — or just for yourself — it doesn’t matter a hoot. Many of the examples you gave us aren’t really relevant as so few people in the past went to university to do anything at all.

I went to a school decided upon by a selective examination and we were told when we started that only about 2% of us should have any thoughts of going to university, and that techincal qualifivcations, such as National Certificates, were the best we could aspire to for the remaining 98%.

Essentially, the whole thing comes back to the old, and quite impossible to answer question of talent vs skill. If you have the talent, an arts degree will help; if you don’t, all you can expect to be is an amateur (and usually not very good) scribbler. The ability to write a grammatically correct sentence does not make you a story-teller — and it never will.

I have to respectfully disagree with you, opsimath. Most of the authors I know who are currently building successful careers did not go to college at all, and few of those who did attend university studied writing. You can (and many have) become expert writers and storytellers without learning how to do it in school. In fact, I would say that I learned very little about grammar and storytelling in college, and I was a creative writing major. Also, the very fact that historically, authors did not study the craft in formal settings is proof that formal study is not a necessity. History has produced hundreds of eloquent authors who managed to master the craft without formal schooling, and writing hasn’t changed so much that we’re living in times where a degree has become mandatory.

Having said that, we all have to put in the time and work in order to succeed. The point is that whatever you might learn in school, you can also learn outside of school if you know how to find the right mentors and resources. A degree gives anyone an advantage, but in the field of writing, it is not a prerequisite for success or expertise. And I say that as someone who is a firm advocate for higher education. Obviously, there are some exceptions; for example, you probably do need a journalism degree or a computer science degree if you want to be a journalist or technical writer, but for storytellers and other creative nonfiction writers, it is an option, not a requirement. There are other ways to acquire the skills and expertise you need to succeed as a storyteller.


A good idea, I think, would be to take a few courses at the local community college, or online if there isn’t a school nearby, to get an idea on how effective a class environment will be for you. I need a structured peer group to thrive at anything in life, yet my husband was miserable at a liberal arts college. I have to sign up for a class at the gym to lose weight – I can’t just get up in the morning to jog or do laps at the pool alone, even with a partner I’m not as motivated as when I’m in a group lead by an experienced mentor. The same goes for writing. I have to join writing groups to find inspiration to work on my novel, otherwise I don’t have enough self-discipline to finish it. Yeah, maybe that makes those of us like me kind of lame, but if we know how to fix it we can get motivated greatness (:

Also, look into financial aid, grants, and scholarships if it’s not something you can afford. You’d be surprised at what is available to those from all walks of life.

Excellent advice, Katie!

George McNeese

I graduated with a Creative Writing degree. In some ways, it’s been beneficial for the reasons you mentioned. I feel like I’ve earned the right to call myself a writer. But if you’re boy putting those skills into practice, then what was the point of slaving for four years? On the flip side, I feel like I really didn’t understand the skills and techniques of other writers. Part of it was due to a lack of reading other works. Some of it was I was busy comparing myself to others that I didn’t pay attention to nuances in their work.

Sometimes, I feel like I entered the wrong field because I haven’t done anything with my degree. I haven’t published anything, nor am I working on something grand like a novel. But then I remember why I pursued the major in the first place: I have a passion for writing. The validation is nice and I can claim the fact that I graduated from college. At the heart if it all is the passion to create stories. Recently, after some soul searching, I decided to take up the pen again. But because I’ve been out of practice for so long, I feel like I beef to go back to school and brush up on my craft. Maybe take an online course or two or get involved in a writing group.

Degree or not, I love writing, and my desire is to get better at what I love.

For me, the greatest benefit of going to college and earning a degree in creative writing was that it broadened my worldview, which has little to do with a career or even writing. I gained a better understanding of the world on various levels. Much of the knowledge I gained isn’t practical as far as making money, but I feel like it made me a better person.

I think we in the western world are programmed to think that any kind of learning must translate directly to dollars. This leads someone to ask a question like what’s the use of my degree if I’m not working in the field? . But I think it’s safe to say that most of us who attended college gained something intellectual or emotional that can’t be measured in financial earnings or career development.

It’s never too late to get back into writing! If you’re feeling called to it, I say go for it, and have fun! Good luck to you.


Really interesting to read this post as I started my degree in Creative Writing last year through the Open University. Whilst I’ve always had a writer’s soul, I’ve been away from writing for around a decade (having picked up a camera instead) and felt doing the degree would give me the jump start I needed to get back on the writing path. It’s already doing that and I’m keen to start working for myself in the next year or so, whilst also finishing off my degree.

I have had people say to me, “Why are you doing that, it’s a pointless degree!” But, when I suddenly decided late last year that I wanted to get myself a qualification so I could leave my long-term career as a Paramedic, once and for all, I knew I should only take on a subject that I had a passion for, otherwise what was the point?!

I’m looking forward to getting started with the second stage this coming October and I can’t wait to start writing for a living as well!

Over the years, I’ve heard from a lot of writers whose decision to study creative writing was challenged by the people in their lives. I think a lot people view college as nothing more than a path to some kind of guaranteed high-paying job, such as a position in business, law, the medical field, etc. A career in writing is probably more risky, but it’s just as valid as any other career. Anyway, congratulations on your return to writing. I also think it’s great that you’re a paramedic and have something to fall back on or rely on while you launch your writing career.

Prachi Gandhi

I graduated in BSc Nursing in India…I did it because it has good scope but failed to develop interest in the field…I always loved writing and want to pursue my career in writing…I am not sure if it requires a bachelor’s degree in arts or literature or creative writing ! Also i am thinking of moving to Canada for my postgraduation …And this is the time when i can change my field from nursing to writing and finally do what i like doing… my question is ….is it necessary to have a bachelors degree in creative writing for doing master’s in it ?

Hi Prachi. You would need to check the requirements for the Master’s program that you’re applying for.


Thank you for your perspective on the value of obtaining a degree in creative writing. I found your argument balanced and, on the whole I agree with your view, which is (as I understand it “horses for courses”, I.E. what suits one person (a creative writing degree) will not, necessarily suit another individual.

I agree with you that a degree demonstrates commitment (mine is in history and politics, plus a MA in political theory). I don’t feel the need to obtain a degree in creative writing (and I understand the concerns of those who fear that doing so may actually stifle their creativity). I do, however no of several writers (who’s work I enjoy) who do hold degrees in creative writing. However I have another friend who writes extremely well but does not hold a creative writing qualification of any description. So it is, in the final analysis “horses for courses”.

Best – Kevin

Everybody has different learning styles and curves and talents. Writing is one of those fields in which if you’re willing to put in the work, you can do fine.


This is an interesting post, Melissa. Thanks for sharing. 🙂 — Suzanne

Thanks, Suzanne.

Jemima Pett

You’ve hit the nail on the head when you cite the people who are great in their fields without a degree to prove it. The creative writing degree probably didn’t exist when they were in education. It didn’t when I was at college. One of the important things to do at college is something you like, that you will put the necessary effort in to show that you know how to learn, how to express yourself, and how to get by in life. But if you want to write successfully now, you owe it to your readers to learn about the business, learn how to be a good writer, and a better writer, and to value the continuous process of learning. That doesn’t necessarily mean a degree. And yes, it might well stifle your creativity before you can let it free again.

That’s true. For many of them, such a degree might not have been available. At some point, I believe “English” would have the relevant degree. My degree is technically an English degree “with a concentration in creative writing.” Semantics. I agree with you 100% about putting in the work to learn the craft!

debbie belair

Great Article, Academic writing is so different from creative writing, and that is so different from Copywriting. I am a self-taught copywriter. Most of my learning had to do with learning how to market. My creative writing diploma was a big plus.

Yes, every form of writing is different. Some skills are necessary to all forms, however.

Dave Snubb

Thank you very much for this reading. I think it was exactly what I needed right now. 😉

You’re welcome, Dave!

Darcy Schultz

Hi Melissa! My son is about to graduate high school and is not college bound, he has an extreme lack of interest in school. He is an extremely talented and creative writer and his passion is to have a career in writing. What would be your advice to a young writer, like him, who doesn’t know where to start or what his next steps should be to start working toward a career in creative writing? Have you had any experience with Masterclass courses? Any other workshops or clubs, etc that would be good for him to check out so he can meet with other like-minded individuals and network and find mentorship?

Hi Darcy! Well, the first thing I would say is that if college is an option, then studying creative writing in college is tremendously valuable. I realize your son isn’t interested in that path, but it would be my first suggestion. If a full college education is not an option (for whatever reason), then perhaps some courses in language arts, English, and creative writing. One can attend college (universities or local community colleges) and focus on certain classes rather than getting a degree, which requires a lot of general education. I don’t have experience with Masterclass yet, but I intend to take some of those courses. They look good to me.

Having said all that, there are other things that your son can do: read as much as possible, write every day, and study the craft — if not through courses then through credible books on the craft. Beyond that, each writer’s needs are very different, so I’m afraid I can’t be more specific. I wish you and your son much luck.

Abi George

Hi Melissa, my name is Abi I very much enjoy writing and I graduate from high school this May. I’ve looked in to multiple possible career choices and I’ve realized that most of what I want to do is telling stories and I’ve also realized that writing is how I express myself when words fail me, I write. I’ve written some stories some are very short, and some still need finished. I’m struggling because I don’t know what I want to do in college but I know I want to go. I’m thinking about taking a gap year and figure stuff out and possibly travel a small bit and since I’ll hopefully have a decent amount of time, work on writing as well as my stories, do you have any advice for me when it comes to writing?

Hi Abi. Thanks for commenting here about your interest in writing. It’s a good sign that you’re already thinking about your future and planning at such a young age. Your path is yours alone, and nobody can make the decision about taking a gap year or choosing a major except you (although your parents might have significant say in these matters). I can tell you this: I majored in creative writing in college and I have never once regretted it. My only suggestion would be that if you take that route, include some business and marketing courses, even if it means taking an extra semester to graduate. All authors need business and marketing skills–no exceptions, and this was the one thing that was not covered when I was in school. This stuff is not fun or creative, but it’s necessary, and it will free you to do the fun stuff.

I wish you the best of luck with your future. Keep writing!

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Major: Creative Writing

Which colleges offer a major in creative writing.

Creative Writing majors weave a rich tapestry of storytelling, exploring forms such as poetry, personal essays, memoirs, short stories, scriptwriting, novels, literary journalism, and even video games. It could be a favorite line in a movie, play, or book that lures an audience in and changes their world. 

Telling a story can shed light on societal issues that would otherwise receive little or no attention. By evoking emotion, the story and its characters captivate the reader. People become invested in the story, the impact of the problem on the characters’ lives, and the outcome. Creative writing humanizes experiences in a way that may foster compassion for others. A compelling creative writer draws readers in so that they become engaged in the story.

Your imagination, mindset, and self-expression will be challenged and sharpened as a creative writing major. You’ll explore multiple creative writing forms. Creative writing challenges you to dig deep and learn about yourself and others. 

What does a student majoring in Creative Writing study? 

To develop their skills, creative writing majors will take courses in historical and contemporary literature and participate in writing workshops. Such courses or workshops include, among others: 

  • American Literature
  • Introduction to Creative Writing
  • Reading and Writing Poetry
  • Playwriting
  • Screenwriting

What can I do with a Creative Writing degree?

You’ll develop a greater appreciation and understanding of various creative writing genres. Your research, writing, and creative thinking skills are desirable in  jobs such as the following:

  • Poets, Lyricists and Creative Writers
  • Advertising and Promotions Managers
  • Art Directors
  • Fundraisers
  • Producers and Directors

Specializations for a Creative Writing major are:

  • Film and Television Writing
  • Photojournalism
  • Creative Nonfiction

What are the requirements for a Creative Writing degree? 

The degree requirements at your college or university will consist of specific credits needed for major and elective courses in creative writing. You’ll participate in many writing workshops and apply the critiques of your work from peers and faculty to hone your creative writing skills.   

Explore Creative Writing Careers

Arts and humanities majors and degrees, related ap courses, find colleges with a creative writing major.

2023 Creative Writing Degree Guide

Rapid growth in creative writing degrees awarded, best creative writing schools by degree, requirements for getting a degree in creative writing, creative writing degree program entry requirements, types of creative writing degrees.

DegreeCredit RequirementsTypical Program Length
Associate Degree60-70 credits2 years
Bachelor’s Degree120 credits4 years
Master’s Degree50-70 credits1-3 years
DoctorateProgram required coursework including thesis or dissertationAt least 4 years
Level of EducationPercentage of Workers
Bachelor’s Degree36.2%
Doctoral Degree26.1%
Master’s Degree18.7%
Less than a High School Diploma10.4%
High School Diploma5.0%

82.7% of creative writing workers have at least a associate. The chart below shows what degree level those who work in creative writing have obtained.

Creative Writing Careers

Growth projected for creative writing careers.

Occupation NameProjected JobsExpected Growth
Writers and Authors141,2007.6%
English Language and Literature Professors92,9009.8%

How Much Money Do People With a Creative Writing Degree Make?

Highest paid creative writing careers.

Occupation NameMedian Average Salary
English Language and Literature Professors$78,150
Writers and Authors$73,090

Getting Your Creative Writing Degree

Top ranking lists for creative writing, best schools creative writing, best value colleges creative writing, creative writing related majors, majors similar to creative writing.

Related MajorAnnual Graduates

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Choose Your Test

Sat / act prep online guides and tips, the 12 best creative writing colleges and programs.

College Info


Finding a dedicated creative writing program at a school you're excited about can be a real challenge, and that's even before you start worrying about getting in. Nonetheless, there are some great options. In order to help you find the best school for you, this list rounds up some of the best colleges for creative writing in the United States .

The Best Creative Writing Programs: Ranking Criteria

You should never take college rankings as absolute truth —not even the very official-seeming US News ones. Instead, use these kinds of lists as a jumping-off place for your own exploration of colleges. Pay attention not just to what the rankings are but to how the rankings are determined.

To help with that, I'll explain how I came up with this highly unscientific list of great creative writing colleges. I started by narrowing my search down to schools that offered a specific creative writing major. (If you don't see a school you were expecting, it's likely because they only have a minor.)

In ranking the schools, I considered five major criteria:

  • #1: MFA Ranking —If a school has a great graduate creative writing program, it means you'll be taught by those same professors and the excellent graduate students they attract. Schools with strong MFA programs are also more likely to have solid alumni networks and internship opportunities. However, many schools with great undergrad programs do not offer MFAs, in which case I simply focused on the other four options.
  • #2: General School Reputation —The vast majority of your classes won't be in creative writing, so it's important that other parts of the school, especially the English department, are great as well.
  • #3: Extracurricular Opportunities —One of the key advantages of majoring in creative writing is that it can provide access to writing opportunities outside the classroom, so I took what kind of internship programs, author readings, and literary magazines the school offers into consideration.
  • #4: Diversity of Class Options —I gave extra points to schools with a variety of genre options and specific, interesting classes.
  • #5: Alumni/Prestige —This last criterion is a bit more subjective: is the school known for turning out good writers? Certainly it's less important than what kind of education you'll actually get, but having a brand-name degree (so to speak) can be helpful.

The Best Creative Writing Schools

Now, let's get to the good stuff: the list of schools! The exact numbering is always arguable, so look at it as a general trend from absolutely amazing to still super great, rather than fixating on why one school is ranked #3 and another is ranked #4.

#1: Northwestern University

Northwestern's undergrad creative writing program boasts acclaimed professors and an unparalleled track record of turning out successful writers (including Divergent author Veronica Roth and short-story writer Karen Russell).

Outside the classroom, you can work on the student-run literary journal, intern at a publication in nearby Chicago, or submit to the Department of English's yearly writing competition . The university is also home to a top journalism program , so if you want to try your hand at nonfiction as well, you'll have plenty of opportunities to do so.

#2: Columbia University

Like Northwestern, Columbia is home to both a world-class creative writing program and a top journalism school (plus one of the best English departments in the country), so you have a wide range of writing-related course options. Columbia also benefits from its location in New York City, which is bursting at the seams with publishing houses, literary journals, and talented authors.


#3: University of Iowa

The University of Iowa's big draw is the infrastructure of its graduate Writers' Workshop, which is often considered the best MFA program in the country.

As an English and Creative Writing major here, you'll take classes from great young writers and established professors alike, and get to choose from a wide range of topics. This major provides transferable skills important for a liberal arts major with a creative focus. You'll also have access to the university's impressive literary community, including frequent readings, writing prizes and scholarships, and the acclaimed literary journal The Iowa Review .

#4: Emory University

Emory is renowned for its dedicated undergrad creative writing program , which draws the very best visiting scholars and writers. Students here have the chance to attend intimate question-and-answer sessions with award-winning authors, study a range of genres, compete for writing awards and scholarships, and work closely with an adviser to complete an honors project.

#5: Oberlin College

A small liberal arts school in Ohio, Oberlin offers very different advantages than the schools above do. You'll have fewer opportunities to pursue writing in the surrounding city, but the quality of the teachers and the range of courses might make up for that. Moreover, it boasts just as impressive alumni, including actress and writer Lena Dunham.

#6: Hamilton College

Hamilton is another small college, located in upstate New York. It's known for giving students the freedom to pursue their interests and the support to help them explore topics in real depth, both inside and outside the classroom. Hamilton's creative writing program takes full advantage with small classes and lots of opportunities to intern and publish; it also has one of the best writing centers in the country.

#7: Brown University

Brown's Literary Arts program offers one of the top MFAs in the US as well as an undergraduate major . For the major, you must take four creative writing workshops and six reading-intensive courses, which span an array of departments and topics, from music and literature to Middle East studies and Egyptology.


#8: Washington University in St. Louis

Washington University has an excellent creative writing MFA program, lots of super specific class options, and a number of scholarships specifically earmarked for creative writing students. This school’s undergraduate English program also offers a concentration in creative writing that allows students to specialize in a specific genre: poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction. If you’re interested in exploring your potential in a specific writing genre, Washington University could be a great pick for you.

#9: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

MIT might not be a school you generally associate with writing, but it actually has an excellent program that offers courses in digital media and science writing, as well as creative writing, and provides plenty of guidance on how graduates can navigate the tricky job market.

Not to mention the school is located in Cambridge, a haven for book lovers and writers of all kinds. Though it probably isn’t a good fit for students who hate science, MIT is a great place for aspiring writers who want to build writing skills that are marketable in a wide range of industries.

#10: University of Michigan

University of Michigan is one of the best state universities in the country and has a top-notch MFA program. This school’s undergrad creative writing sub-concentration requires students to submit applications for admittance to advanced creative writing courses. These applications give students crucial practice in both building a writing portfolio and articulating their interest in creative writing to an audience who will evaluate their work. If you're looking to attend a big school with a great creative writing major, this is a fantastic choice.

#11: Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins is another school that's known more for engineering than it is for writing, but, like MIT, it has a dedicated writing program. As a major here, you must take not only courses in prose, poetry, and literature, but also classes on topics such as philosophy and history.

#12: Colorado College

Colorado College is a small liberal arts school known for its block plan , which allows students to focus on one class per three-and-a-half-week block. The creative writing track of the English major includes a sequence of four writing workshops and also requires students to attend every reading of the Visiting Writers Series.

Bonus School: New York University

I didn't include NYU in the main list because it doesn't have a dedicated creative writing major, but it's a great school for aspiring writers nonetheless, offering one of the most impressive creative writing faculties in the country and all the benefits of a Manhattan location.


How To Pick the Best Creative Writing School for You

Just because Northwestern is a great school for creative writing doesn't mean you should set your heart on going there. (The football fans are completely terrifying, for one thing.) So where should you go then?

Here are some questions to ask yourself when looking at creative writing programs to help you determine the best school for you:

Does It Have Courses You're Interested In?

Look at the course offerings and see whether they interest you. While you can't predict exactly what classes you'll love, you want to avoid a mismatch where what you want to study and what the program offers are completely different. For example, if you want to write sonnets but the school focuses more on teaching fiction, it probably won't be a great fit for you.

Also, don't forget to look at the English courses and creative writing workshops! In most programs, you'll be taking a lot of these, too.

What Opportunities Are There To Pursue Writing Outside of Class?

I touched on this idea in the criteria section, but it's important enough that I want to reiterate it here. Some of the best writing experience you can get is found outside the classroom, so see what kind of writing-related extracurriculars a school has before committing to it.

Great options include getting involved with the campus newspaper, working on the school's literary journal, or interning at the university press.

Who Will Be Teaching You?

Who are the professors? What kind of work have they published? Check teacher ratings on Rate My Professors (but make sure to read the actual reviews—and always take them with a grain of salt).

If you're looking at a big school, there's a good chance that a lot of your teachers will be graduate students. But that's not necessarily a bad thing: a lot of the best teachers I had in college were graduate students. Just take into consideration what kind of graduate program the school has. If there's a great creative writing MFA program, then the graduate students are likely to be better writers and more engaged teachers.

What Are the Alumni Doing Now?

If you have a sense of what you want to do after you graduate, see if any alumni of the program are pursuing that type of career. The stronger the alumni network is, the more connections you'll have when it comes time to get a job.

What About the Rest of the School?

Don't pick a school for which you like the creative writing program but dread everything else about it. Most of your time will be spent doing other things, whether hanging out in the dorms, exploring off campus, or fulfilling general education requirements.

Many schools require you to apply to the creative writing major, so make doubly sure you'll be happy with your choice even if you aren't accepted to the program.

What's Next?

Are you sure a creative writing major is the right fit for you? Read our post on the pros and cons of the major to help you decide what path to take in college.

For more general advice about choosing a college, check out our complete guide to finding the right school for you. Some major factors to consider include deciding whether you're interested in a small college or a big university , an in-state or out-of-state institution , and a public or private school .

Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points?   We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download them for free now:

Alex is an experienced tutor and writer. Over the past five years, she has worked with almost a hundred students and written about pop culture for a wide range of publications. She graduated with honors from University of Chicago, receiving a BA in English and Anthropology, and then went on to earn an MA at NYU in Cultural Reporting and Criticism. In high school, she was a National Merit Scholar, took 12 AP tests and scored 99 percentile scores on the SAT and ACT.

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is college creative writing hard

Creative Writing Classes: Are They Really Worth It?

is college creative writing hard

The rumors are true. You can become a successful author without a degree in creative writing .

In fact, it’s even possible to learn the craft on the cheap, scraping together insight from free articles, library books, and fellow writers. You don’t have to take a formal writing course at all .

So why do creative writing classes even exist?

Loads of reasons, actually. 

For one thing, many aspiring writers learn best in a structured classroom or workshop setting with personal attention from an instructor. 

Creative writing courses also provide opportunities to form relationships with other writers and even find a mentor. They often require you to share your writing and provide feedback on your classmates’ work, both of which teach you how to think more analytically about the craft and embrace constructive criticism .

You don’t even have to be an aspiring author to reap the benefits of these classes. 

You could be a college student looking to boost your communication skills. Or a senior hoping to share their story with future generations. Or a person who’s just looking for a fun hobby.

There are plenty of reasons to pursue formal instruction in writing. The trick is determining whether a class can help you meet your current goals and, if so, which course is right for you.

You and I are going to think through that together. We’ll talk about what you can learn in these courses, key considerations when choosing your class, and how to get the most out of it. 

You’ll even leave with some tips for overcoming the biggest challenges of writing workshops… like the part where you have to share your hot mess of a first draft with a room full of semi-strangers.

First, we need to get clear on what creative writing even is.

What Counts as Creative Writing?

A person sitting at a laptop writes in a notebook with one hand and touches their other hand to their temple, staring off into space and thinking.t

Creative writing is a ridiculously broad term that can mean a lot of things. It basically covers all forms of writing that are creative, personal, and expressive rather than informative and objective.

Creative writing uses literary devices like metaphor and symbolism to create an emotional experience for the reader. In non-creative writing, factual clarity is the primary goal, which often means using direct language and avoiding emotion or bias.

For example, a novel is creative writing. A newspaper article is not.

A poem is creative writing. The user manual for your new smart toilet is not.

If you’re looking at a class that promises to teach you “creative writing,” take a close look at the description to make sure it fits your actual goals. That course could be covering any one of—or even all of—these things:

Forms of Creative Writing

There are three primary forms of creative writing. Each one has approximately half a billion sub-forms and genres , which is why it’s a good idea to be specific in your search for creative writing classes.

Here are the three main forms of creative writing:

Fiction - Any narrative that isn’t true or is even partially made up falls under the category of fiction. This includes novels, novellas , and short stories as well as scripted fiction like plays, screenplays, and teleplays.

Creative nonfiction - This includes anything that’s true but expressed creatively through the biased perspective of the author. In this category, you’ll find things like memoirs , personal essays, travel writing, nature writing, and literary journalism.  

Poetry - Poetry has so many subgenres it’s borderline impossible to define. Generally speaking, it’s an expression of abstract ideas or emotions, often using evocative sensory details and unconventional sentence structures. It may or may not have a deliberate rhythm, it may or may not rhyme, and it might even tell a true or made-up story, stepping its bold little foot into the territory of narrative essays or fiction.

Where to Find Creative Writing Classes

Once you know which specific creative writing skills you’d like to develop, how do you find the class that’s right for you?

Turns out, there are a ton of places to look. 

If you want to take an in-person course, you can see what the local community college has to offer. You might also be able to find creative writing classes at a local community center or attend a workshop hosted by a writers’ group.

There are also absolute buckets of online writing courses. Browse the options available on sites like Coursera , Udemy , MasterClass , and Gotham Writers Workshop . Or Google exactly what you’re looking for and see what comes up.

You’ll discover that you have a ton of options. The next challenge is narrowing them down.

How to Choose the Right Creative Writing Class

A finger hovers over a page of paint chips in different shades of orange and red.

Once you realize just how many creative writing courses are out there, you may feel a bit overwhelmed. How are you supposed to know which one is right for you?

Start by asking yourself these seven easy-peasy questions:

1. What Do You Want to Write?

Do you want to write fiction? Nonfiction? Poetry?

Whichever one it is, are you able to narrow your preferences down even further? 

Let’s say you know you want to study fiction writing. Is it because you dream of being a novelist? Because you have a great screenplay idea? Or maybe you want to be a novelist, but you’d like to learn the fundamentals by writing a short story first.

Don’t be afraid to get even more specific. For example, if you’d love to learn how to write fantasy , see what fantasy writing courses are out there. 

You may find options that are too specific for where you are in your journey. If you’re still not clear on how to craft a character arc or create unforgettable characters , it might not be time to worry about developing magic systems . 

But maybe a class on fantasy story development will be more beneficial than a more generic fiction writing class.

On that note, if you want to focus on genre fiction (like fantasy, sci-fi , romance , horror … that kind of stuff), make sure you take a genre-friendly class. Some creative writing classes—especially in academia—focus on literary fiction and get a little snooty about the commercial stuff.

2. What are Your Goals?

Think about why you want to take a creative writing class in the first place. What do you hope to get out of this?

Common motivations include:

  • Exploring creative writing as a hobby
  • Building the skills necessary to become a successful author
  • Unwinding and having fun through self-expression
  • Leaving a legacy
  • Learning how to write books that sell
  • Becoming more involved in the writing community
  • Sharpening specific creative writing skills, like character development or prose

Based on your goal, which writing courses are likely to help you the most?

Most class descriptions provide a breakdown of the objectives for the class, indicate what kind of assignments or major project you’ll complete, and lay out the topics you’ll cover. For many online courses, you can even read reviews from past students.

All this information can give you a clear indication of what the class can (or cannot) do to help you on your journey.    

3. Do You Want to Learn Online or in Person?

If you prefer online writing courses, you’ll have way more options to choose from. You can also learn from the comfort of your own home and enjoy the opportunity to connect with writers from all over the country… maybe even all over the world.

Depending on the way the class is set up, you might also have a flexible schedule. Some online courses feature pre-recorded video lectures and exercises you can do on your own time. The downside is that you can’t easily connect with your fellow learners and may not get feedback on your work.

Other online creative writing classes have live sessions and assignments with real deadlines, so there’s less flexibility but you can still enjoy the ease of a twenty-foot commute.

In-person classes are great because they help you build relationships with fellow writers in your community (or close enough). They also promote a deeper, more focused commitment. Not only do you have to block out the time and show up, you also physically remove yourself from the distractions of your personal life.

There are pros and cons to both options. Only you can decide what makes sense for you.

4. What Skill Level Does This Course Demand?

If you already have some knowledge of writing fundamentals, you’ll be bored senseless in a class that teaches you what symbolism is and how to use dialogue tags .

You’ll also be miserable in a class that’s way over your head.

Once again, the course description should help you deduce whether this course will be tough enough to advance your writing skills without being so challenging that you can’t keep up. When in doubt, email the instructor and ask if their class is right for someone of your experience level.

5. What Do You Know About the Instructor?

Is the instructor published or working professionally in your area of study? What are their strengths as a teacher? Does this seem like the right person to help you reach your writing goals?

Whenever possible check out reviews or ask previous students what they say about their class and teaching style. Just because an instructor gets great work out of their students, that doesn’t automatically mean they’re the best guide for everyone.

If your only objective is to have fun exploring a new hobby, you probably don’t need the “look to your left, look to your right, only one of you will survive this class” instructor.

6. What Do You Know About the Other Students?

You don’t need to get your hands on the class roster. I just mean, what do you know about the type of people who typically take this particular writing course?

What are their goals? How advanced are their creative writing skills? Are they creative writing majors in a competitive academic environment? Newbies who are just trying to get a sense of what the writing world is like? Aspiring indie authors eager to encourage one another?

Also, how many of them are there? Whether you’re hoping for more focused guidance from the instructor or kiiiiinda wanna blend into the crowd, class size is something to consider. 

7. How Much Does It Cost?

Depending on how extensive they are or where you find them, creative writing courses can cost anywhere from a little to a whole, whole lot. Before you get attached to any specific class, search your soul (and your bank account) and decide how much you’re ready to invest in building your writing skills.

The right answer is whatever answer is right for you .

What to Expect in a Creative Writing Course

A person sits at a kitchen island, staring at a laptop screen.

Okay. You’ve enrolled, you bought a new notebook, you’ve got your four-color pen… now what? What can you expect from your creative writing course? 

Seeing as how this grand world of ours is full of so many different types of creative writing and different writing classes and different writing instructors, I can’t give you a super specific answer.

But I’ll do my best to provide a general overview of what you might experience in a very typical writing class.

What You’ll Learn

I know I seem pretty obsessed with course descriptions at this point, but that really is the best place to look if you want to know what topics your instructor will cover.

Other than that, here are some concepts that are commonly covered in the following creative writing classes:

In a standard fiction writing class, you’ll likely go over all the essential building blocks of a story. That includes plot structure , character development , conflict , setting , and theme .

You might also have an opportunity to dive into the prose itself, working to perfect more detailed skills like dialogue , scene description , and pacing .

If you study any form of script writing (playwriting, screenwriting, or teleplay writing), you may also learn formatting rules and how to write action, especially if it’s a beginner class.

You’ll have a lot of writing assignments. Some creative writing classes are structured to help you complete a project, in which case your assignments might build towards writing a script, novel, novella, short story, or children’s book.

You can probably expect a lot of reading assignments, too, as your instructor will want you to see how published authors have mastered the skills you’re learning.

Creative Nonfiction

In this type of course, you’ll most likely learn how to find the narrative arc in a true story, zero in on a theme, and tell a compelling tale without abandoning reality. 

In some classes, you might also explore ethical issues surrounding nonfiction writing or dive into advanced topics like incorporating research and blending personal stories with societal issues.

As for assignments, it’s the same deal as if you were learning fiction. You’ll probably read work by the greats, do some writing of your own, and end the class with at least one good personal essay or the beginnings of a great memoir.  

In a poetry class, you can expect to cover different poetic forms (haiku, sonnet, all that jazz) and learn a truckload of literary devices. You’ll probably dive into elements like meter, rhyme, and rhythm.

Try not to be too shocked when I tell you that you’ll also write poems—like, a ton of poems—and read even more. 

Class Structure

As for the way the class is structured, your course will land somewhere on the lecture-to-workshop spectrum. Allow me to explain.

In some creative writing classes, you mostly listen to the teacher teach, do some assigned reading, and turn your writing assignments in to be graded or critiqued by the instructor.

Actually, there are online creative writing classes where you don’t even do that much. 

MasterClass courses, for example, are completely self-directed, with pre-recorded video lectures and workbooks you go through on your own. You don’t share your work with the instructor because the instructors are people like Margaret Atwood, and Margaret Atwood is very busy doing other things.

On the other end of the spectrum are writing workshops, where there’s a lot less teaching and loads more writing. In this scenario, you and your fellow students spend most of your class time sharing and providing feedback on one another’s work.

Then, of course, there are creative writing courses that land somewhere between the two, with a little sharing, a little lecturing, and hopefully a lot of learning.

Specialized Creative Writing Courses

Another thing you might notice on your quest to find creative writing classes is that some of these courses get very specific. There are plenty of advanced skills you can learn to take your writing to the next level, boost your qualifications in a specific area, or improve your odds of making a living off your words.

Let’s take a quick look at the kind of specialized classes you might find as you search for creative writing courses. 

By Skill 

Rather than learning the basics of a particular form of writing, you can take classes that invite you to focus on a single skill or element.

You might learn how to craft a compelling plot, develop characters with psychological and emotional depth, or write for a specific audience .

You can also find a course that will help you develop non-writing skills that will still make you a better writer, like developmental or copy editing .

As I mentioned before, it may be worth looking for creative writing classes that are specific to your genre. Each genre comes with its own tropes, conventions, and reader expectations. You can embrace or subvert them, but you can’t do either if you don’t know them.

You might find more generalized courses like “How to Write Mysteries” or more specific ones like “How to Build Romantic Tension.” 

The Business

Then there are the courses that focus less on the craft of creative writing and more on the business of it .

If you hope to publish traditionally , you might look for classes on writing query letters , creating book proposals, or navigating the publishing industry as a whole.

If you plan to self-publish , you can find courses on writing to market , developing a marketing plan , the entire self-publishing process , or any of the other six thousand things indie authors have to think about.

This kind of education can be extremely helpful if you hope to make a living from your words.

Seizing the Opportunity to Build a Community

Two smiling people sit together in a cafe, looking at a laptop screen.

Writers need other writers. Your peers can inspire you to stay on course, share resources and opportunities, and possibly even connect you with gatekeepers when you’re ready to publish. 

Most importantly, they understand the journey you’re on. That might not seem like a big deal now, but you’ll see the benefit of it when you’re standing there in your salsa-stained sweatshirt, trying to explain to your helplessly confused spouse that you’re freaking out because your protagonist derailed your entire third act by making a choice that wasn’t in the outline .

Yeah. Writing gets weird. Your people can help you get through the weirdness, and writing courses present great opportunities for finding your community.

Here’s how to make it happen:

Connecting With Classmates

The tricks for making friends in a creative writing class are the same as in any other context. Make friendly conversation before and after class and during breaks. Share ideas or resources that might be helpful.

Focus on connecting with people you’d genuinely like to be friends with. The relationships that help you the most in the long term will always be the ones that start from a real connection.

Also keep in mind that a creative writing class is a vulnerable place, especially if it’s a workshop where everyone is sharing early drafts.

When you offer feedback to your fellow writers, be kind and constructive. On the flip side, notice which of your classmates know how to be helpful without scoffing at your efforts. That combination of positive and enriching is absolutely essential for a long-term writer friendship.

Staying Connected

The next challenge is staying in touch with these people after the course ends. There are many ways to do this.

Tell the person or people you want to stay in touch with that you want to stay in touch with them. Swap phone numbers or email addresses if you haven’t already.

You could also invite someone to meet up for lunch or coffee in the near future.

You could arrange to be critique partners for one another on your current project. Or simply agree to be accountability partners, checking in with each other once a week to see how things are going.

If you really clicked with your classmates, you might consider creating a writers’ group. This happened with an online essay writing class I took once. We continued sharing personal essays and giving feedback for about a year after the course ended.

If all of these options overwhelm you, start small. Become social media chums. Engage with their content. As you become more comfortable, send them a private message asking how their latest work in progress is going. Build the relationship actively but gradually.

Common Obstacles 

Runners jump over a long row of hurdles.

I promised to go over some of the trickier or more intimidating aspects of creative writing courses. These are the little obstacles that crop up when you’re suddenly in a position of having to share your work or craft masterful writing on someone else’s schedule.

It can be overwhelming, but it’s all survivable. And, as is the case with most overwhelming things, these challenges will build character and better prepare you for a writing career, if that’s what you’re after. 

Writer’s Block

Writer’s block is that thing where all your creative gears seem to come to a grinding halt. You can’t think of a single story idea or figure out what happens next or even write one coherent sentence.

It’s a frustrating problem that gets even tougher when you have to have ten pages ready to share with the class by Friday. 

So how do you get past it?

The best move is to first identify what’s really going on. Your imagination might be frozen because you’re afraid your story will suck. Or maybe you can’t quiet your inner critic or you’ve got a lot going on in your life and your brain can’t handle another job right now.

You can find a ton of exercises to work through these issues in this article . In the meantime, one of the best ways to get through writer’s block is to simply let it be bad. Let yourself write garbage, if that’s how it has to be. You can fix it once it’s on the page.

Fear of Feedback

Not exactly stoked to have a bunch of people you just met tell you what’s wrong with your story? None of us are, my friend. 

Nevertheless, receiving constructive criticism is crucial for improving your skills. Plus, if you plan to build a writing career, you’ll be receiving loads of feedback on your work for the rest of your life. Creative writing classes can help you ease into this jarring scenario so you can be a real pro about it when you receive notes from agents, editors, and readers.

We actually have a guide on managing this fear, too, so I’ll just give you the short version for now:

Focus on becoming a better writer rather than proving that you’re a good one.

You might already be fantastic. But you can always be better, and if that’s your goal, you’ll be able to appreciate feedback for the gift that it is.

Meeting Deadlines

Creative writing almost always takes longer than we think it should. In fact, the more you learn, the longer you’ll probably spend on your assignments. 

I recommend scheduling your writing time in advance. Block out writing sessions and stick to them.

Not only does this help you prioritize your writing rather than leaving it to the last minute, it also trains your brain to enter the creative zone when your official writing time rolls around. That helps you get the work done faster.

You can find more tips on creating an effective writing schedule here , advice for building a writing habit here , and tricks for writing faster here .

Keep Learning Beyond Creative Writing Classes

A person holds open a book with a tangle of string lights on the pages, illuminating the reader's face.

You won’t learn all the creative writing skills you need in a single class. You won’t even learn them in a single lifetime. 

Great writers pursue education continuously. But that doesn’t mean you have to spend all your walkin’ around money on online writing classes. 

You also learn the craft by reading the authors you admire, studying the way they structure their stories and shape their prose.

You learn by sharing your work with critique partners for feedback and by examining their work—an exercise that trains you to think more analytically about what makes a great story great.

You can read books and articles on writing. You can attend conferences and seminars and literary events.

And you can hang out with us here at Dabble.

We’ve got loads of free articles and other resources in DabbleU . We’ve got a free ebook that walks you through the entire process of writing a novel. We’ve got a free newsletter that delivers hot tips right to your inbox.

All of this is available to you even if you don’t use our super rad, all-in-one writing tool .

And if you do ?

So glad you asked. Premium Dabble subscribers also get access to a bonus, information-packed newsletter and exclusive workshops. (You can get a sneak peek of one here .)

Not a Dabbler yet, but always been a little curious? Click this link for a free trial. That gets you access to all Premium features for two weeks. You don’t even have to enter a credit card!

Consider it a free education.

Abi Wurdeman is the author of Cross-Section of a Human Heart: A Memoir of Early Adulthood, as well as the novella, Holiday Gifts for Insufferable People. She also writes for film and television with her brother and writing partner, Phil Wurdeman. On occasion, Abi pretends to be a poet. One of her poems is (legally) stamped into a sidewalk in Santa Clarita, California. When she’s not writing, Abi is most likely hiking, reading, or texting her mother pictures of her houseplants to ask why they look like that.


is college creative writing hard


Read. learn. create..

is college creative writing hard

In self-publishing, the author holds all the power. Here's how to wield yours to sell more books and build a sustainable career.

is college creative writing hard

In this follow-up to our author website Deep Dive, we take a look at how you can maximize your digital home base. Be sure to download our author website cheat sheet, too!

is college creative writing hard

No matter how much we want to ignore it, successful authors need a website. But there's more to a good author website than just throwing up a few nice words and pictures of your book. If you do it right, it could be your most powerful marketing tool.

Greater Good Science Center • Magazine • In Action • In Education

How Creative Writing Can Increase Students’ Resilience

Many of my seventh-grade students do not arrive at school ready to learn. Their families often face financial hardship and live in cramped quarters, which makes it difficult to focus on homework. The responsibility for cooking and taking care of younger siblings while parents work often falls on these twelve year olds’ small shoulders. Domestic violence and abuse are also not uncommon.

To help traumatized students overcome their personal and academic challenges, one of our first jobs as teachers is to build a sense of community. We need to communicate that we care and that we welcome them into the classroom just as they are. One of the best ways I’ve found to connect with my students, while also nurturing their reading and writing skills, is through creative writing.

For the past three years, I’ve invited students in my English Language Development (ELD) classes to observe their thoughts, sit with their emotions, and offer themselves and each other compassion through writing and sharing about their struggles. Creating a safe, respectful environment in which students’ stories matter invites the disengaged, the hopeless, and the numb to open up. Students realize that nobody is perfect and nobody’s life is perfect. In this kind of classroom community, they can take the necessary risks in order to learn, and they become more resilient when they stumble.

Fostering a growth mindset

is college creative writing hard

One of the ways students can boost their academic performance and develop resilience is by building a growth mindset. Carol Dweck, Stanford University professor of psychology and author of the book Mindset , explains that people with a growth mindset focus on learning from mistakes and welcoming challenges rather than thinking they’re doomed to be dumb or unskillful. A growth mindset goes hand in hand with self-compassion: recognizing that everyone struggles and treating ourselves with kindness when we trip up.

One exercise I find very useful is to have students write a story about a time when they persevered when faced with a challenge—in class, sports, or a relationship. Some of the themes students explore include finally solving math problems, learning how to defend themselves, or having difficult conversations with parents.

I primed the pump by telling my students about something I struggled with—feeling left behind in staff meetings as my colleagues clicked their way through various computer applications. I confided that PowerPoint and Google Slides—tools (one might assume) that any teacher worth a paperweight has mastered—still eluded me. By admitting my deficiency to my students, asking for their help, and choosing to see the opportunity to remedy it every day in the classroom, I aimed to level the playing field with them. They may have been reading three or four grade levels behind, but they could slap a PowerPoint presentation together in their sleep.

For students, sharing their own stories of bravery, resilience, and determination brings these qualities to the forefront of their minds and helps solidify the belief that underlies a growth mindset: I can improve and grow . We know from research in neuroplasticity that when students take baby steps to achieve a goal and take pride in their accomplishments, they change their brains, growing new neural networks and fortifying existing ones. Neurons in the brain release the feel-good chemical dopamine, which plays a major role in motivating behavior toward rewards.

After writing about a few different personal topics, students choose one they want to publish on the bulletin boards at the back of the classroom. They learn to include the juicy details of their stories (who, what, when, where, why, and how), and they get help from their peers, who ask follow-up questions to prompt them to include more information. This peer editing builds their resilience in more ways than one—they make connections with each other by learning about each other’s lives, and they feel empowered by lending a hand.

In my experience, students are motivated to do this assignment because it helps them feel that their personal stories and emotions truly matter, despite how their other academics are going. One student named Alejandro chose to reflect on basketball and the persistence and time it took him to learn:

Hoops By Alejandro Gonzalez Being good takes time. One time my sister took me to a park and I saw people playing basketball. I noticed how good they were and decided I wanted to be like them. Still I told my sister that basketball looked hard and that I thought I couldn’t do it. She said,“You could do it if you tried. You’ll get the hang of it.” My dad bought me a backboard and hoop to play with. I was really happy, but the ball wasn’t making it in. Every time I got home from school, I would go straight to the backyard to play. I did that almost every day until little by little I was getting the hang of it. I also played with my friends. Every day after lunch we would meet at the basketball court to have a game. … I learned that you need to be patient and to practice a lot to get the hang of things. With a little bit of practice, patience, and hard work, anything is possible.

Originally, Alejandro wasn’t sure why he was in school and often lacked the motivation to learn. But writing about something he was passionate about and recalling the steps that led to his success reminded him of the determination and perseverance he had demonstrated in the past, nurturing a positive view of himself. It gave him a renewed sense of investment in learning English and eventually helped him succeed in his ELD class, as well.

Maintaining a hopeful outlook

Another way to build resilience in the face of external challenges is to shore up our inner reserves of hope —and I’ve found that poetry can serve as inspiration for this.

For the writing portion of the lesson, I invite students to “get inside” poems by replicating the underlying structure and trying their hand at writing their own verses. I create poem templates, where students fill in relevant blanks with their own ideas. 

One poem I like to share is “So Much Happiness” by Naomi Shihab Nye. Its lines “Even the fact that you once lived in a peaceful tree house / and now live over a quarry of noise and dust / cannot make you unhappy” remind us that, despite the unpleasant events that occur in our lives, it’s our choice whether to allow them to interfere with our happiness. The speaker, who “love[s] even the floor which needs to be swept, the soiled linens, and scratched records,” has a persistently sunny outlook.

It’s unrealistic for students who hear gunshots at night to be bubbling over with happiness the next morning. Still, the routine of the school day and the sense of community—jokes with friends, a shared bag of hot chips for breakfast, and a creative outlet—do bolster these kids. They have an unmistakable drive to keep going, a life force that may even burn brighter because they take nothing for granted—not even the breath in their bodies, life itself. 

Itzayana was one of those students who, due to the adversity in her life, seemed too old for her years. She rarely smiled and started the school year with a defiant approach to me and school in general, cursing frequently in the classroom. Itzayana’s version of “So Much Happiness” hinted at some of the challenges I had suspected she had in her home life:

It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness. Even the fact that you once heard your family laughing and now hear them yelling at each other cannot make you unhappy. Everything has a life of its own, it too could wake up filled with possibilities of tamales and horchata and love even scrubbing the floor, washing dishes, and cleaning your room. Since there is no place large enough to contain so much happiness, help people in need, help your family, and take care of yourself.   —Itzayana C.

Her ending lines, “Since there is no place large enough to contain so much happiness, / help people in need, help your family, and take care of yourself,” showed her growing awareness of the need for self-care as she continued to support her family and others around her. This is a clear sign of her developing resilience.

Poetry is packed with emotion, and writing their own poems allows students to grapple with their own often-turbulent inner lives. One student commented on the process, saying, “By writing poems, I’ve learned to be calm and patient, especially when I get mad about something dumb.” Another student showed pride in having her writing published; she reflected, “I feel good because other kids can use it for calming down when they’re angry.”

To ease students into the creative process, sometimes we also write poems together as a class. We brainstorm lines to include, inviting the silly as well as the poignant and creating something that represents our community.

Practicing kindness

Besides offering my students new ways of thinking about themselves, I also invite them to take kind actions toward themselves and others.

In the music video for “Give a Little Love” by Noah and the Whale, one young African American boy—who witnesses bullying at school and neglect in his neighborhood —decides to take positive action and whitewash a wall of graffiti. Throughout the video, people witness others’ random acts of kindness, and then go on to do their own bit.

“My love is my whole being / And I’ve shared what I could,” the lyrics say—a reminder that our actions speak louder than our words and do have an incredible impact. The final refrain in the song—“Well if you are (what you love) / And you do (what you love) /...What you share with the world is what it keeps of you”—urges the students to contribute in a positive way to the classroom, the school campus, and their larger community.

After watching the video, I ask students to reflect upon what kind of community they would like to be part of and what makes them feel safe at school. They write their answers—for example, not being laughed at by their peers and being listened to—on Post-it notes. These notes are used to create classroom rules. This activity sends a message early on that we are co-creating our communal experience together. Students also write their own versions of the lyrics, reflecting on different things you can give and receive—like kindness, peace, love, and ice cream.

Reaping the benefits

To see how creative writing impacts students, I invite them to rate their resilience through a self-compassion survey at the start of the school year and again in the spring. Last year, two-thirds of students surveyed increased in self-compassion; Alejandro grew his self-compassion by 20 percent. The program seems to work at developing their reading and writing skills, as well: At the middle of the school year, 40 percent of my students moved up to the next level of ELD, compared to 20 percent the previous year. 

As a teacher, my goal is to meet students where they’re at and learn about their whole lives. Through creative writing activities, we create a community of compassionate and expressive learners who bear witness to the impact of trauma in each others’ experiences and together build resilience.

As a symbol of community and strength, I had a poster in my classroom of a boat at sea with hundreds of refugees standing shoulder to shoulder looking skyward. It’s a hauntingly beautiful image of our ability to risk it all for a better life, as many of my ELD students do. Recognizing our common humanity and being able to share about our struggles not only leads to some beautiful writing, but also some brave hearts.

About the Author

Headshot of Laura Bean

Laura Bean, M.F.A. , executive director of Mindful Literacy, consults with school communities to implement mindfulness and creative writing programs. She has an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and presented a mindful writing workshop at Bridging the Hearts and Minds of Youth Conference in San Diego in 2016.

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Professional Development

Assessing creative writing is hard, so here are three ways to avoid it, by aneesa davenport     oct 2, 2017.

Assessing Creative Writing Is Hard, So Here Are Three Ways To Avoid It

Image Credit: abstract / Shutterstock

This article is part of the collection: Putting It Into Words: The Future of Writing Instruction.

Everyone knows that outside of the school building, creative writing workshops aren’t graded. Whether it’s a group of retirees who cluster in the back of your corner coffee shop or the so-called Ponzi schemes of MFA programs like the famed Iowa Writers’ Workshop, assessment comes in the form of peer feedback—marginalia and discussion.

But if you’re teaching creative writing in a K–12 classroom or a community college, at the end of the day you’re most likely required to stamp a letter grade—or at least a percentage score—on your students’ work. As the educators I spoke with lamented, “the product is so hard to assess.”

That’s why I’ve gathered three brilliant ways for you to get out of it.

1. Assess the assessment

Kevin Allardice is an English teacher at Mercy High School in Burlingame, CA and the author of the novels Any Resemblance to Actual Persons and Family, Genus, Species . He avoids assessing creative writing altogether by assigning his students to write critical essays about their own short stories.

He originally developed this method as a way to engage his students in academic writing about literature. Since students were excited about the stories they wrote—and presumably confident that they understood the author’s intentions—they were more inclined to deeply investigate and support their claims with textual evidence. Writing about their own work in the third person helps students differentiate between different genres and modes of writing. It also helps break down the barrier between critical and creative thinking.

Kevin grades both the explicative essay his students write about their fiction or creative nonfiction as well as the feedback they give their peers (a short response due before each workshop). In his words, “both have more explicit formal expectations,” letting him avoid making a judgment call about the art itself. “I tend to grade all the materials that surround the creative part, rather than the actual creative work,” he says.

The structure of the peer responses mirrors that of the class’s workshop discussion, enabling students to prepare for and then fully engage in the discussion. For example:

  • Describe in neutral language what the story is trying to accomplish.
  • What details help it meet that goal (citing specific passages)?
  • What specifics could be revised to help it achieve the established goal?

This format ensures the students focus on helping the story “become the story it wants to become, not deciding whether or not they like the story.” Bonus: having a specific format for written feedback makes it easier to grade, because the requirements are clear: once you determine the aims of the story, all your notes—positive or negative—must be focused on supporting that goal.

2. Assess the process

When James Wilson teaches creative writing, he grades 50 percent on process. Now an Assistant Professor of English at Diablo Valley College, a community college in Pleasant Hill, CA, he first incorporated this practice into his assessment repertoire when teaching performance to theater students—an art that is perhaps even more elusive to grading than creative writing!

Grading on process isn’t just a participation score. Participation requirements might include giving adequate feedback to classmates or engaging in class discussion, and be graded separately or as part of the student’s overall course grade.

Grading on process is much more than that. It’s all about following the trail of revisions. These are the questions James wants to get to the bottom of:

  • How invested are students in making their work better?
  • Are they engaging in every step of the revision process? Or did they just stop working on their piece at some point?
  • Are they responding to criticism from their peers and instructor, even if they don’t accept the changes?
  • How good are they at integrating feedback?

This approach is predicated on having a clear set of steps that are part of the writing process in your class. Landmarks on the writing journey must include occasions for the instructor to be a party to the work—either the student turning in a rough draft or a workshop moderated by or observed by the teacher. These steps might be:

  • Here’s what you write for a starter exercise
  • Here’s what you revise and bring in for workshop
  • Here’s how you respond to and integrate feedback
  • Here’s what you turn in as a final product

When you’re grading on process you’re also grading on persistence. A student who says their work is “perfect the first time” does not exhibit grit.

3. Make your students write the rubric

A theme that emerged in these conversations was a focus on audience, intention, and the goal of the piece of writing. Unlike most of the writing that students do—for which the teacher sets the goal—when writing creatively students get to choose what they’re trying to accomplish. Whether or not they do it well is up to the audience to decide. “Put the audience first,” says Janet Files, whether that means your teacher, your classmates, your family, or the public.

An educator of 41 years, Janet Files is a Literacy Specialist with the South Carolina Department of Education. She trains coaches who work with the state’s elementary school teachers to improve reading and writing instruction. Formerly, Janet was the Director of the Coastal Area Writing Project , a national program with regional centers known for its model of improving the teaching of writing by developing teachers’ confidence in their own writing skills.

Janet suggests assigning the class to create the rubric. Designing a rubric together intrinsically motivates students and engages them in a crucial aspect of developing them into writers: reading like a writer. That means steeping yourself in a genre, noticing what other writers are doing—or trying to do—then mimicking, stealing and making their techniques your own. These techniques become the requirements of the rubric.

Questions in a self- or class-created rubric might be:

  • I’m trying to be funny: did it make you laugh?
  • I want my writing to be engaging: at what point did you lose interest?
  • I like scary stories: how close did I come to writing like Stephen King?

Obviously, once your students have created the rubric it’s up to them to fill it out!

Some additional resources for getting started with student-generated rubrics can be found from Diane Gallucci , McKayla Stoyko , United Federation of Teachers , TeacherVision and TeachersFirst .

Use technology?

Aside from using a word processor to review student or parent comments on drafts, or Google Classroom to project student work to the class in order to offer encouragement and criticism in real time, none of the educators I spoke with currently use technology in teaching writing. So I asked them: Can you imagine an edtech product that helps you assess creative writing? What would it look like?

The answer was something more robust than Microsoft Word’s tracked changes or Google Docs’ version history, but along those lines.

Kevin said, “Last year, when my sophomores were writing analytical essays about their own creative work—citing it, et cetera—I found myself toggling back and forth between two Google Docs. I wished there were a simpler way—like, if I could read the essay on one side of my screen, have the story on the other side, and have each citation in the essay highlight the corresponding passage in the story. Just a fantasy. Maybe something like that is already out there. I don't really know enough to know.”

Likewise, James wanted a versioning tool that would keep multiple drafts of a piece together in one place, so he could track its development and see what changes the student makes. However, he said, “I feel a little creepy about this—big-brotherish.”

Janet’s idea had more to do with technology that could help students move through the peer review process, for instance by facilitating writing groups online. She envisioned a program that would ask guiding questions like: What stood out? Where did you feel tense? Where did you want to hear more?

I have an inkling some of these technologies already exist, or soon will.

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More From Forbes

College essays that worked and how yours can too.

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CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS - JULY 08: A view of Harvard Yard on the campus of Harvard University on ... [+] July 08, 2020 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology have sued the Trump administration for its decision to strip international college students of their visas if all of their courses are held online. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The college essay is a pivotal piece of the college application showcasing your individuality and differentiated outlook to admissions officers. What makes an essay truly shine? Let’s dive into the words behind three standout essays highlighted by university websites and a school newspaper's brand studio so you can get into the right mindset for crafting your own narrative.

Embracing Differences: Finding Strength In Uniqueness

Essay Excerpt: ‘Bra Shopping ’ (Harvard)

Featured by the Harvard Crimson Brand Studio , Orlee's essay recounts a student's humorous and insightful experience of bra shopping with her grandmother, weaving in her unique family dynamics and challenges at her prestigious school.

What Works:

  • Humor and Honesty: The student's humor makes the essay enjoyable to read, while her honesty about her challenges adds depth.
  • Self-Awareness: She demonstrates a strong sense of self-awareness, embracing her uniqueness rather than trying to fit in.
  • Resilience: Her narrative highlights resilience and the ability to find strength in differences.

For Your Essay : To write an essay that embraces your uniqueness, start by identifying a quirky or challenging experience that reflects who a key insight into your experience. Think about how this experience has shaped your perspective and character. Use humor and honesty to bring your story to life, and focus on how you have embraced your differences to become stronger and more resilient.

Best High-Yield Savings Accounts Of 2024

Best 5% interest savings accounts of 2024, finding connections: humor and self-reflection.

Essay: ‘Brood X Cicadas ’ (Hamilton College)

As an example on Hamilton's admissions website, Nicholas writes about the cicadas swarming his hometown every 17 years and draws a parallel between their emergence and his own transition to college life. He uses humor and self-reflection to create a relatable and engaging narrative.

  • Humor: Nicholas uses humor to make his essay entertaining and memorable. His witty comparisons between himself and cicadas add a unique twist.
  • Self-Reflection: By comparing his life to the cicadas’, he reflects on his own growth and readiness for change.
  • Relatability: His narrative about facing new experiences and challenges resonates with readers who have undergone similar transitions.

For Your Essay: To infuse humor and self-reflection into your essay, start by identifying an ordinary experience or object and think about how it relates to your life. Write down funny or insightful observations about this connection. Use humor to make your essay more engaging, but ensure it still conveys meaningful self-reflection. This balance can make your essay both entertaining and profound.

Persistence and Multicultural Identity: Life Lessons From Tortilla Making

Essay: ‘ Facing The Hot Griddle ’ (Johns Hopkins University)

In this essay published by Hopkins Insider, Rocio uses the process of making tortillas to explore her multicultural identity and the challenges she has faced. Her story beautifully weaves together her Guatemalan heritage and her experiences growing up in the United States.

  • Metaphor and Symbolism: The process of making tortillas becomes a powerful metaphor for the student’s journey and struggles. The symbolism of the masa harina and water mixing parallels her blending of cultural identities.
  • Personal Growth: The essay highlights her perseverance and adaptability, qualities that are crucial for success in college.
  • Cultural Insight: She provides a rich, personal insight into her multicultural background, making her story unique and compelling.

For Your Essay: To write an essay that explores your identity through a metaphor, start by thinking about an activity or tradition that holds significant meaning for you. Consider how this activity relates to your life experiences and personal growth. Use detailed descriptions to bring the activity to life and draw connections between the process and your own journey. Reflect on the lessons you've learned and how they've shaped your identity.

A winning college essay isn’t simply about parading your best accomplishment or dramatizing your challenges. It’s not a contest for which student is the most original or entertaining. Rather, the essay is a chance for you to showcase your authenticity, passion, resilience, social awareness, and intellectual vitality . By sharing genuine stories and insights, you can create an essay that resonates with admissions committees and highlights your unique qualities.

For you to have the best possible essay, mindset is key. Here’s how to get into the zone:

  • Reflect Deeply: Spend time thinking about your experiences, challenges, and passions. Journaling can help you uncover deep insights.
  • Discuss and Share: Talking about your stories with friends, family, or mentors can provide new perspectives and emotional clarity.
  • Immerse Yourself: Engage in activities that you are passionate about to reignite the feelings and memories associated with them.
  • Draft Freely: Don’t worry about perfection on the first try. Write freely and honestly, then refine your narrative.

The secret to a standout college essay lies in its authenticity, depth, and emotional resonance. By learning from these successful examples and getting into the right mindset, you can craft an essay that not only stands out but also provides a meaningful insight into who you are. Remember, your essay is your story—make it a piece of writing that you will always be proud of.

Dr. Aviva Legatt

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Discussions about the writing craft.

Writing while in college is hard.

When I write, a voice inside me tells me I should be studying. When I study, all I can think about is writing. That's all. No advice here. Just felt the need to share this constant struggle I find myself in.

Edit: thanks to everyone for the responses. And yes, I totally understand that writing is still hard after college.

It's been interesting to see how some say it has gotten easier after college and some say it has gotten harder. We all live very different lives and that has been reflected in all the responses! Regardless, I hope you all keep writing and chasing your dreams, through the thick and thin!

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The Creative Penn

Writing, self-publishing, book marketing, making a living with your writing

is college creative writing hard

Overcome Your Challenges And Write Your Book. A Disabled Writer Shares His Journey.

posted on June 27, 2024

It's hard for anyone to write a book and get it out into the world, but it's even harder if you have health challenges.

Daniel D. Bate is severely dyslexic, completely blind, and physically disabled due to severe joint damage and extreme brittle bones. He is a partially recovered, partial paraplegic. Despite his challenges, Daniel continues to pursue his dream of being a successful author.

You can find his books on Amazon and find out more or sign up for his email list at .

is college creative writing hard

What got you into writing and publishing?

I have loved books as far back as I can remember. My parents encouraged my love of audiobooks and I think got rather fed up of reading stories to me so they bought me audiobooks.

I am very much a contrarian. I’m severely dyslexic and even now still spell phonetically. Back then, I couldn’t really read or write. The weird thing was I used to go around with a notepad and pen writing and drawing anything I could. Despite hating reading and writing, I loved books and stories. I love the feel of books. I love the smell of books and just holding them in my hands. It was the audio books my parents put me on that allowed me to really enjoy stories.

When I was in year nine at primary school, we were told to write a poem. I’m not sure what it was about that project, but that really opened the door for me. It made me feel like the written word could mean and do so much more. From that point I wanted to be an author. This was well before any of my physical disabilities.

Since then I’ve tried several times to write, but it wasn’t until the year before last that I was able to achieve this dream. I published my first short story in October 2022. Then last year I published my first full novel, Stepping Stones to Space. It’s the first of many books to come in my Humanities Expansion series.

My book is about an individual that wants to take humanity back to the moon and colonise it. Humanity’s history is full of examples where individuals have made a difference and in this case one woman will be the driving force to get us back into space.

Due to how severe my disabilities have become a normal 9 to 5 Job is not a possibility for me. I am on benefits. I would be dead now if it wasn’t for the N.H.S.

I want to work together to help society and contribute to it. I decided that combining my passion for books was the best way to achieve this. It is not a 9 to 5 job, but hopefully I can build this into a career. Hopefully, I can build something that will help me to get out of the benefit trap and help others to achieve their own goals and dreams.

My hope is that if other people can see someone who is severely dyslexic, partially deaf, completely blind, is a partially recovered paraplegic and who spends 80% of his day bedbound, despite all that, I can still publish a book and work towards goals and dreams.

Hopefully, this will inspire other people as well to reach beyond their perceived limitations and achieve their own dreams. I’m not saying if I can do it anyone can. Everyone has their own unique circumstances, but if I can do it, then you also might be able to try.

What challenges have you had to overcome for your author career?

As I mentioned before, I’m something of a contrarian in many ways. Becoming an author is a very difficult path to take for anyone, even without disabilities. My disabilities though, have in some ways both made things harder and easier.

It was my dyslexia that made things difficult at first . I tried to write my first book before I became seriously disabled and it was a slog. It was extremely difficult just to write a few sentences. Unfortunately, that book got put by the wayside. One day I may come back to it. 

Only once I went blind, things actually got easier. I had access now to screen reader technology, as well as dictation based software like that built into the iPhones. This made my dream of becoming an author more realistic. There was also another piece of software called Dragon, that made becoming an author an easier pursuit. 

My health has had some quite dramatic ups and downs. During one of the high points after I had come to terms with going blind, I took up sailing again and even achieved first place in the Blind Nationals. It was in the B1 fleet racing category in 2012. I was also fortunate enough to be accepted into an amazing university.

After that, my health took another dip and two of my dreams have been postponed. I was not able to go to university in the end, but if my health ever gets back to a sufficient level again, I will pursue those dreams again. 

It seems when my health goes downhill; I get back into my writing.

Using a Mac computer and Dragon Dictation software, I attempted to write another novel. Unfortunately, someone hacked my computer, and that file was deleted. I still remember the broad strokes of the story and may rewrite it again in time, but that was another attempt to become an author that crashed and burned. 

Unfortunately, my health continued to deteriorate and after several other serious incidences it culminated in me becoming a partial paraplegic. I was completely paralysed from mid chest down. My injury was classed as a T7, which means it was roughly between my shoulder blades. I spent five months in the hospital during the COVID lockdowns. I then did another seven months in a respite centre during some of the other lockdowns. I was eventually allowed home. 

While I was in the respite centre, I got back into my writing in a very big way. I have continued writing ever since then.

While I was admitted to hospital for those five months, I was not able to write at all. This imposed sabbatical on my writing made me realise and reinforced how much I wanted to be a writer.

Despite trying multiple times, it just wasn’t possible while I was in the hospital. When I left, it was a different matter and thanks to certain pieces of technology. It allowed me to embark on pursuing my dream of becoming a author. This is mainly thanks to the accessibility of the Apple iPhone. I also use an iPad and occasionally a MacBook Pro.

I’ve tried Windows operating systems with screen readers like jaws and supernova. They are alright. I find Apple accessibility software to be superior.

Unfortunately, Apple do not like to play nicely with others and the Dragon Dictate software does not work very well with Apple's screen reader on the MacBook Pro. My way round this was to use the Apple iPhone.

I use the built-in dictation software and an app called Dragon Anywhere. This wasn’t available years ago when I first started to get back into writing, but is now and I would highly recommend the equipment. This equipment is not just useful for blind people, but people that severely have dyslexia or even physically disabled would also find this extremely useful.

It has become even more important for me in the last several years as I’ve had severe damage done to my hands and I can no longer touch type. Many years ago, after I went blind, I was very fortunate to be taught in Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, how to touch type. Since then, I’ve also lost that ability as well.

The right technology and software is what really allows me to pursue my dreams of becoming an author.

This article itself has been written using the built-in dictation software in my iPhone.

It does have errors and going back through to edit them can be rather frustrating, but there is a brand-new piece of software that has made things even better for me.

I’m a big advocate for AI software. It has dramatically improved my editing speed. I write my stories predominantly with the dictation software and some of my books are human edited.

Other books in the future will be both human and AI edited. I use predominantly, but I have also used one called Mag AI which is accessible with my screen reader.

I have also tried GPT. Unfortunately, the app on the iPhone is not accessible using a screen reader. I’ve also tried using the Claude app on the iPhone and that is not accessible either, despite it saying that in the app information, but the web browser version for Claude is extremely good for screen readers.

I have had to fight and work extremely hard to achieve my goals and dreams. The medical side of my life takes up a significant amount of my time.

My day starts at 3 o’clock in the morning and ends about 8:30 in the evening. Unfortunately, I am however, bedbound for 80% of the time and only have very small opportunities during that day to do the things I want to achieve.

My goals and dreams of becoming a successful author are slowly, hopefully, becoming true. Initially, much of the process I did on my own. If you want to see an example of the disaster I had with a website, check my first website out at . 

Since then, I have paid people to help get round some of my own limitations. I hope one day to build a team that can help support me. However, for now, money is a very limited resource given my current situation.

 I owe an extremely big thank you too Stuart Grant at the Digital Authors Toolkit in particular for building me an incredible new website, and being a very good decent human being. Him and his team have gone above and beyond for me. They have worked around my disabilities and done an incredible job. 

I have also paid a human editor to edit my first book, Stepping Stones to Space and my second full novel, Beyond Earth. He is also an amazing human being that has taken account of my disabilities and we’ve created a system that now works. 

I am also in the process of getting my first book, Stepping Stones to Space professionally formatted, but many of my books have been written, edited, and formatted entirely by myself. If you want to see an example of that disaster, then check out my short story The Terminus. 

I am still on the path and have a very long way to go.

I first need to build my newsletter. Once I have a large number of readers who enjoy my books, then hopefully I will have enough money coming in to support myself. Once I’ve achieved that, hopefully I can pay for the team that I need to improve my books and make them even better. 

There is still a long way to go, but I will keep on keeping on. I can and will continue to work, but it’s with the help of people like you that will make the difference. You are the amazing ones. You are the ones that will help make my dreams come true and I cannot say thank you enough.

At the end of the day, I just hope that you enjoy my books like I have enjoyed so many other authors' books.

 (3) What mindset tips do you have for authors when they face the inevitable challenges that come?

Some people dismiss mindset as not being important. I disagree with this heavily.

Mindset is the foundation. Mindset is the cornerstone of how you are going to achieve your dreams.

Your dreams are a guiding light. Dreams are almost like a north star, something to aim towards. Mindset is the vehicle. The ship that is going to take you there.

I believe the phrase. “all I ask is a tall ship and a star to sail her by.” I believe that this phrase means far more than most people realise. I personally have developed eight mantras that I say to myself almost every day.

My first one is the one I use the most, which is keep on keeping on . Sometimes this one just helps me to work through the hard times and get through whatever is causing me trouble at that moment.

The second one is if it’s going to be, it’s up to me . Your dreams are your own and while people will help, and there are some very kind people in the world, but there is unfortunately evil as well. It will be up to you to achieve those dreams. The third one is:

Do what I can, when I can, how I can.

Time is extremely valuable and you need to use it as efficiently as possible. Every moment we have on this planet is precious and we cannot get it back, buy more of it, or extend it beyond what we have. 

The fourth one is slow and steady wins the race . This one is more about just doing a small bit often. Over time, it will accumulate into a very large thing. If you’re too ill or too tired to do a lot, then don’t. Instead, do a little bit often and it will build into so much more.

The fifth one is efficiency, efficiency, efficiency . Like everyone, we have a finite amount of time to use each day. Being in my wheelchair only for a few hours each day limits the time I have available. Sorting out my medical care reduces that time even more. I need to use my time as efficiently as possible, and I will do if possible several things at the same time.

The sixth one is: How to eat an elephant? One bite at a time. This is a saying that refers to taking a very large task and breaking it down as much as you need to so you can make it more manageable.

If I thought that I’d have to write a 147,000 word novel, I would never have written my first book, Stepping Stones to Space. Instead, I took it a few hundred words at a time. I took it one day at a time, and eventually I had my novel.

The seventh mantra is: The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today. This mantra just means don’t wait for tomorrow to do or start a task. Do it as soon as you can, within reason, of course.

The eighth mantra and possibly the most important one is: Everything in balance and moderation. 

The seven previous mantras have been all about working towards your goals and dreams. Sometimes, however, this can push you too far. You might be the sort of person that needs pushing, but there’s also just as many of us out there that may need reigning in from time to time. I have made myself physically ill and even ended up in hospital by pushing myself too far.

I have dreams and goals and I want to achieve them, but we also must remember everything in balance and moderation. This also means getting the proper amount of rest and sleep.

I must work towards my goals and dreams. I must also look after myself, and maintain my health as much as possible. I believe the order should be “health, happiness, then wealth.”

I believe these phrases round themselves out very well and do a good job of pushing you to achieve your goals. No one is going to achieve your dreams for you, so you must work towards them. Even just a little bit of work each day is something towards a larger goal. A little bit each day builds on itself and eventually can become your dreams. 

It’s also very important not to wait till tomorrow. Don’t put it off for another day if you can do it today.

Seven of my mantras are useful for getting the job done and working towards those goals and dreams. One thing you need to remember, though, especially if you suffer from chronic illness is not to make yourself ill .

Some people need pushing towards their goals and those phrases will help but some people need holding back on occasion. I know because I can be one of these people.

I’m like a light switch I’m on or off. If I’m on, I have to do as much as I can and it’s never enough. I have on several occasions worked myself into illness because I want to achieve those goals so badly.

That is why my eighth phrase is so important to workaholics like myself. Everything in balance and moderation that includes rest and relaxation. You feel like there is not enough time for relaxation and too much still to do, but it’s just as vital especially to your health. 

Physical needs are extremely important, but your mindset is the foundation of everything. Dreams are the guiding star that you are navigating towards. Mindset and technology is the vehicle, the ship that will get you there.

Everyone has their own unique drive. This is the thing that pushes you on. Mine is, to me at least books and the hope to have a better life. This is the fuel, the burning desire inside me that pushes me on. It pushes me like a wind in the sales of my ship. One day it will get me there, but in the meantime, the journey is also just as important.  

(4) You use a lot of adaptive technology. What tools related to writing, publishing, and book marketing do you find the most helpful?

I use a vast amount of equipment to both be a writer and get round my disabilities.

As far as word processing software goes, I predominantly use Apple’s Pages app and the Notes app on my iPhone and iPad. This is what I use to do my actual writing.

I also use the built-in dictation software of Apple, as well as the downloadable app Dragon Anywhere software. Apple has the best accessibility software. I am limited to Apple's own software and software endorsed by Apple. As I mentioned before, they don’t particularly like to play well with others.

I find the Dragon Anywhere software is extremely useful for doing flow writing where I can stay dictating for minutes or even over an hour sometimes.

I find the built-in Apple dictation software to be better for short sentences and correcting errors. Anyone who is familiar with dictation software will know it is not the most accurate. It certainly has come on in leaps and bounds over the years, but it still isn’t perfect.

Reedsy is also a site I would highly recommend to anyone. I used it to get an amazing editor and through word-of-mouth have got a professional to format my first book for me.

To distribute my books I use Amazon, but I’m also a big advocate of BookFunnel and I also use Draft2Digital. I’ll be trying to get my books out onto as many platforms as I possibly can, especially my free ones. The last one I put my book on was Wattpad. I’m still in the process though of trying to do the Google Play store.

For my book marketing, I predominantly use Written Word Media and my author newsletter. I post it on social media as well, but don’t do very well with that side of things.

I’m hoping to add another person to the team that can help me with my newsletter and social media. Basically, once I start earning enough, they’ll be requests for a PA at some point. One thing that I struggle heavily with is tracking my sales. All the primary options are not accessible through a screen reader on a mobile device.

One app I do use is called KDP Champ on the Apple App Store. This works only with sales from Amazon, but at least I have an idea of some of my sales.

My current primary goal other than actually writing my books is to build my author newsletter and try and get it sorted with as many people on it as possible while also giving them useful and entertaining content. For this, I use the website ConvertKit . Unfortunately, it isn’t fully accessible to screen reader technology.

I have tried that and I’ve tried Mailchimp and for me at least ConvertKit is the better option. Warning: You will probably be emailing the Help Service quite a bit. If you have to do automations, then I highly recommend hiring someone to do it for you. This has been a source of great frustration for me, mainly because I know that if I wasn’t blind, I would be able to do it for myself.

There are issues, but at least it can be partly used with screen readers and there are other silver linings as well.

I also have an incredible book cover designer who takes great care with describing the book covers he does for me.

He does an incredible job and I very much appreciate him working around my disabilities so well.

I was also very concerned about my first book. I wanted to make sure I got the first three things right. I even paid someone to do the blurb for me.

The first one is your book cover, the second one is your book blurb the third one is your category and keywords. I did everything I could to get the first two of these sorted, but unfortunately I’ve not done very well on the third.

I have tried Publisher Rocket, but unfortunately it’s not accessible on an iPhone. One other very useful piece of software I’m currently using is AI. It was taking me several days, possibly even more than a week, to edit 1000 words.

Thanks to AI, I can now edit 2000 words in one day. This has been an incredible boost to my productivity.

I write the books. I am the one who comes up with the stories, but AI is a fantastic tool and can really help people with disabilities even more.

While I’m not at the same level of some of the prolific writers, this software has made a significant difference for me. Hopefully, my readers will be able to enjoy several new books this year instead of just maybe one next year. 

(5) Tell us about your books and where we can find you online

If you want to hear more about me, my books, and who I am, then you can find me at my brand-new website, .

If you go on there, you’ll find out so much more about everything. If there is also something else you would like to know personally, then you can join my author newsletter and email me yourself. You can get a free copy of my first published full novel, Stepping Stones to Space .

My book is about Dr Elizabeth Reacher and her team as they strive to send humanity back to the moon. She witnesses another devastating blow against space exploration and takes it upon herself to push humanity back into space and take the first steps back to exploring the stars.

I also have published eight short stories. Four of them are available on Amazon for 99p each, but the other four are exclusive to my author newsletter. Some of them you get for joining, but a few others are to say thank you to those that help me grow my newsletter and recommend even more people.

Other than writing my books, growing my newsletter is the most important thing for me at the moment. If you can help me to grow, then I can’t say thank you enough and I very much appreciate anything and everything that you wonderful people can do to help me on this journey.

Above everything else, I sincerely hope you enjoy the books I’ve written, and that you succeed in achieving your own dreams, and your own author journey.

Want more on accessibility?

I've done a couple of interviews related to this:

  • Content for Everyone: Accessibility for Authors with Jeff Adams
  • How AI Tools Are Useful for Writers with Disabilities and Health Issues with Steph Pajonas

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Sauron Antelope Valley College

Mid-Michigan entertainment for the weekend of June 28-30 and beyond – The Morning Sun

• Needle Felting Cactus: 1-4 p.m. June 29, from $34, Art Reach, 111 E. Broadway, Mt. Pleasant,

• Baber Gallery, CMU: Through Aug. 18, “Still Divine,” silkscreen print exhibition by recent CMU Art Department alumna Madeline Devantier

• Freak Daddy: 8 p.m. to midnight June 28, Soaring Eagle Casino Ascend Lounge, 6800 Soaring Eagle Blvd., Mt. Pleasant,

• Dueling Pianos: 5:30-7:30 p.m. July 2, Island Park, 331 N. Main St., Mt. Pleasant,

• Woodman Unplugged: July 4, Shamrock Park, 221 Wilcox Parkway, Clare,

• Comedy Night: 8 p.m. June 29,  Broadway Theatre, $15, ages 13 and up, 216 E. Broadway, Mt. Pleasant,

• Craft and Conversation Harrison: Drop in 1-5 p.m. Mondays, Harrison District Library, 125 W. Beech St., Harrison,

Creative Writing

• Poetry Free Verse Workshop: 3-5 p.m. June 28, from $25.50, Art Reach, 111 E. Broadway, Mt. Pleasant,

Farmers Markets

• Native Farmers Market: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays, Farmers Market Pavilion, corner of Broadway and Leaton roads, Mt. Pleasant, [email protected], 989-775-4629

• Mt. Pleasant Farmers Market: 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursdays, Island Park, 331 N. Main St., Mt. Pleasant,

• Alma Farmers’ Market: 7 a.m. to 1 p.m Wednesdays and Saturdays, Pine & Downie Streets, Alma,

• Harrison City Market: 4-8 p.m. Fridays, 121 East Main St., Harrison,, 989-491-0018

• Farwell Arts & Crafts Farm Market: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays, 124 E. Illinois St., Farwell,, 989-588-9926

• Ithaca Farmers Market: 2-6 p.m. Tuesdays, Center and Pine River Streets, Ithaca,

• Bay City Fireworks: Dusk July 4 (first of three nights), downtown over the Saginaw River, other activities every night before the fireworks,

• Crystal Motor Speedway races and fireworks: Starts 7 p.m. July 3, 98315 Sidney Road, Crystal,, 989-235-5200

• Midland 4th of July: Starts at 8 p.m. July 4, music and fireworks, near Dow Diamond, 825 E. Main St., Midland,

Motor Sports

• Mt. Pleasant Speedway: 7 p.m. June 28, $12, 65+ $10, kids 6-10 $6, 5 and under free. 4658 E. River Road, Mt. Pleasant,, 989-773-2387

• Crystal Motor Speedway: 7 p.m. June 29, 8315 Sidney Road, Crystal,, 989-235-5200

• Robot Zoo, Building Buddies: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, Interactive exhibits at the Grand Rapids Public Museum, 272 Pearl St. NW, Grand Rapids,

• Grand Rapids Art Museum: 101 Monroe Center St. NW, Grand Rapids,, 616-831-1000

• Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum: 7400 Bay Road, University Center,, 989-964-7125

• Saginaw Art Museum: 1126 N. Michigan Ave., Saginaw,, 989-754-2491

• Harrison Chamber 4th of July Parade: 9 a.m. July 4, Clare Co. Fairgrounds, 418 Fairlane St., Harrison

• “Newsies”: 8 p.m. June 29-29, Midland Center for the Arts, 1801 W. St. Andrews St., Midland, tickets $20/ $16 students,

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