HomeWriting LifeDo I have to go to college to be a writer?
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There are apparently 7000 different ways to ask this question, and since I have only answered a couple hundred of them in the past two weeks, I’m trying to get ahead of the curve here.

The answer is no. Not just no, but HELL, no!

No, you don’t have to go to college if you want to be a writer, and you could be a happier, more successful writer if you don’t. You certainly won’t start your writing career a “moderate” $25,000 to $50,000 dollars in debt.

You don’t have to have a master’s degree.

You don’t have to have a high-school diploma.

Having a high-school diploma, a bachelors degree, an MFA, a PhD in literature, or anything else will not improve the marketability of your work.

Publishers will not buy your novel because you went to Yale or Harvard or Podunk Community College.

They will buy your work because you have written a good story they think they can make a profit selling.

I’ve written a LOT about this.

Here’s what I have:

Do you need a college education to write?

And then everything else on the right sidebar of this page: Articles, FAQs, Quizzes, and Workshops About Writing and Being a Writer.

 

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Do I have to go to college to be a writer? — 2 Comments

  1. Completely agree. There are a million reasons to go to college, but it’s not any kind of a prerequisite to becoming a successful writer. I’ve witnessed post-Masters’degree candidates (in education, no less!) who appear illiterate on paper and sometimes in their speaking ability. There is nothing in a college curriculum to help you tell a better story.

    • “I’ve witnessed post-Masters’degree candidates (in education, no less!) who appear illiterate on paper and sometimes in their speaking ability.”

      So have I.

      And my “college” education consists of two years of nursing school from what was then a technical school that became a community college a couple of weeks before I graduated. If I’d wanted to pursue a BSN, my credits would have transferred. My post-high-school formal education required one semester of “English for nurses,” offered just to make sure people who were going to have to chart would be a able to.

      If you want to be a writer, you need to be a heavy reader, you need to read both broadly and deeply, you need to pay attention to words, and you need good grammar skills. Being a good speller helps.

      Beyond that, you need to learn how to tell stories — and that’s a teachable and learnable skill. But from everything I’ve gathered from folks who did go to college, and who then take my classes, not one often taught in colleges offering degrees in literature.

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