Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Continuing to Write After an MFA Program or Intensive Summer Writing Program

Some friends who recently graduated from MFA programs or finished an intensive summer writing program have told me that they find it hard to continue to write after the program ends.

Is there a solution? Start by believing in yourself and valuing your writing.

It is helpful to create a self-directed schedule that mimics the intensive writing program that worked so well for you and your writing. Set deadlines to write, edit and submit pieces. Make a regular schedule to meet other writers for workshops or share work online. You might even want to sign up for a class. This integration of a regular writing schedule, which might have been easier to follow while enrolled in a program, will help you to continue to write.

I know, you are thinking that this is fine and dandy for someone who has more time and money than you. That you are not in a position to spend time doing something that doesn’t bring in an income. You certainly can’t sign up for another class with the bills that will be due soon.

I’ve not only heard it all before, but I’ve felt the same way. It can be hard to justify to yourself to spend an hour or two writing everyday when you need to focus on your job that pays the bills.

Instead, remember that writing isn’t only an art and a career, but it is also a lifestyle. It means committing time and energy to writing. You can find the time.

Start small. When someone asks you what you do, say, “I’m a writer.” You’ll find that it is easier to fit yourself into the category – and dedicate the necessary time - if you take yourself seriously. I bet everyone around you – partner, family and friends – believe in you. Now believe in yourself.

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