DIY MFA by Gabriela Pereira

This book is a must-read if you’re a writer who has ever considered going to college to earn your Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in creative writing. If you’re hindered by things like the time commitment, tuition costs, or concerns about how to juggle the coursework with your other responsibilities – then this book is for you!

Author Gabriela Pereira is a writer, reader, teacher, and word-nerd who is challenging the higher education status quo. In addition to this book, she founded with a mission to empower writers and help them see their education and professional growth from an entrepreneurial mindset.

The aim of this book – and the community that was formed along with it – is to recreate the MFA experience.

The book provides a road map to a self-guided, do-it-yourself MFA alternative so you don’t have to go back to school. You can also read some of my own tips I shared for conquering deadline anxiety on the DIY MFA blog.

Now you can get the knowledge without the college. This book combines writing, reading, and community – the three traditional elements of an MFA experience – all while teaching how to write well, engage readers, and publish your work.

Inside DIY MFA you’ll learn how to:

  • Set personalized goals for both learning and writing.
  • Brainstorm ideas to overcome writer’s block.
  • Outline a story from beginning to end.
  • Develop multi-dimensional characters that are fun to write and read!
  • Understand voice, dialog, point-of-view, and more.
  • Read other authors works with a “writer’s eye” so you can learn how to emulate other writers’ techniques.
  • Network and make the most of the writing workshops and conferences you attend.
  • Successfully submit work to agents and publishers.

The goal of DIY MFA is to ensure that the craft of writing is accessible to everyone, not only those with access to a  degree in creative writing. As you work your way through DIY MFA, you’ll begin to fully plan your writing, craft high-quality work, publish, and start your writing career.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

Stephen King is one of the world’s most prolific best-selling authors.

Since publishing his first book, Carrie (1974), King’s written an average of about two novels a year up until the 1999 car crash that almost killed him! King’s a hard-working author who advocates for writing every day. His average daily word count is about 2000 words, but he’s also been known to write a novel in about a week!

King tells his truth about what goes on behind the scenes in a popular author’s life in his book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.

The book has three main sections:

  • Autobiography (entitled CV) where he shares his struggles and triumphs out of poverty through the craft of writing.
  • A section outlining how to write.
  • A retelling of the 1999 automobile accident that critically injured him and also forever changed his ability to sit and write for long stretches of time.

King’s guide On Writing has the middle-class crudeness and honesty that his fans love. While King fully admits up-front that he doesn’t remember parts of his life and will be skipping over them as needed, he does write in detail about his battles with drugs and alcohol.

King explains how to write through the use of specific examples of both good and bad writing. King shares exactly how he writes along with simple and powerful advice he says will work for any writer: read and write every day!

A Book in the Genre You’re Writing (or 1000)

In his book On Writing, Stephen King explains,

“You have to read widely, constantly refining (and redefining) your own work as you do so. It’s hard for me to believe that people who read very little (or not at all in some cases) should presume to write and expect people to like what they have written, but I know it’s true. If I had a nickel for every person who ever told me he/she wanted to become a writer but “didn’t have time to read,” I could buy myself a pretty good steak dinner. Can I be blunt on this subject? If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

To be a good writer you need to read. Period.

What will distinguish good writing from bad writing to your readers is the level of craft you’ve accumulated by reading and absorbing the brilliance of others’ works.

Reading is the single best thing aspiring writers can do to develop their craft. In fact, consider reading a thousand books of the genre you’re interested in, then write yours.

Author Jeff Goins shares that good writers read because,

“Nothing inspires a writer like reading someone else’s words. As a writer, you’ll find yourself hitting plateaus and roadblocks when you aren’t reading. You’ll run out of words if you’re not regularly being challenged through books and other material.”

So refill your word-sack on a daily basis. Study the language you’re aiming to master. Broaden your understanding of nuanced vocabulary.

This way, you’ll have stored plenty of words and ideas to dip into as needed while you write your own stories.

What books are on your side table lately? Share your current reading gems in the comments below or check out some of my other book recommendations.