How to Succeed in the Creative Writing MFA Degree Program
Published on Oct 1, 2017 by Amy Cassell
Full Sail’s spin on the traditional Creative Writing MFA program takes writing beyond the page: Students also study writing for film and television, videos games, comics, and more.
“We designed this Creative Writing MFA program to create multimedia writers – those who can create content for many mediums,” says Noelani Cornell, Full Sail’s Creative Writing MFA program director. “This program is different because it devotes entire classes to writing for specific mediums. There are screenwriting and TV writing degrees, but I’m not aware of any others that also cover film/animation, TV, games, and comics.”
Despite its differences, the root of the program remains the same: mastering the art of the story. Full Sail’s 12-month, online Creative Writing MFA program is for storytellers, Cornell says, and you’ve got to have a passion for writing to succeed.
Creative Writing MFA grads have pursued many opportunities post-graduation, as teachers, game writers, and more, including Grad Isaiah Campbell, who has a contract with publisher Simon & Schuster, and Nick Westfall, who turned his Creative Writing thesis project into a feature film.
Here are some of the traits and skills you need to bring to the table – or in this case, the online classroom – to succeed in the Creative Writing MFA program:
Before entering the Creative Writing program, make sure you’re serious about writing. This program isn’t ideal for someone who likes to write sometimes; it’s for those who have a strong love for writing, a solid handle on grammar, and some practical experience. “Those who come in with previous writing experience are the strongest students who get the most from the degree,” Cornell says. “The more experience, the better.”
Be Ready For: Mastering the art of writing and time management, which is one of the most important skills needed to succeed at Full Sail. At some points throughout the program, students will need to dedicate at least 35 hours per week to their coursework. The university’s accelerated track means you’re getting a master’s degree in one year instead of the typical two. It’s a huge benefit – you’ll get a head start in the industry – but it requires commitment and organization.
Beyond writing and time management skills, discipline is another very important trait needed to succeed in this program. “You are responsible for your success via hard work and tenacity,” Cornell says. “Discipline is even more important than time management. Writing is challenging, so many students don’t want to double down once they get home from a long, challenging day at work [for those who are working full-time and pursuing an MFA at the same time]. Setting a schedule to devote time to coursework is crucial.”
By the end of the program, you’ll have compiled a final thesis that consists of a large piece of work – plus a distribution plan for that work – in a genre of your choice.
More Keys to Success: Bring adaptability, optimism, a good attitude, and a thick skin to this program, Cornell says. Students will receive critiques from their classmates – the workshop environment is a fundamental element of an advanced-level writing program. You’ll be helping your classmates improve as writers, and you need to be receptive to their comments as well.
“Writing is the fun and creative part,” Cornell says, “But your ideas will never sell if they can’t be executed effectively. Students must have a command of grammar and mechanics. Peer critiques involve revising and editing, which are two things that good writers can do very well.”
More questions? Check out the Creative Writing MFA degree page here or call an admissions representative at 800.226.7625.