Applying to an MFA program VII: The waiting game.

Welcome to part VII of our “Applying to a Creative Writing MFA program” series. Yesterday, we sent off our application(s). Today we make our time productive as we play the waiting game.

One reason you might have for entering an MFA program instead of writing on your own is to create formal structure around your writing. On your own, your writing schedule may or not be regiment, and your feedback may be limited. Soon, you’ll be writing under deadline and with both instructor and peer feedback coming your way. Right now is your opportunity to work out what sort of ideas you want to write in that environment.

If you haven’t been stockpiling story ideas, reading great books, and doing some honest-to-goodness writing, now is the time. Many workshops allow room for short stories and developing novels, though in my experience short stories are the more typical fare. Take the kind of fiction writing which challenges you and embrace it. If you don’t write short stories, try writing one. If you’ve only written shorter pieces, maybe it’s time to take a crack at your first novel. If you’ve only delved into the fiction world, give creative nonfiction a try. Examine the classes offered in some of the programs you applied to; see how varied your experience will be and write to those particular genres. For example, if you want to concentrate on fiction, does the program offer open-fiction classes for any content? Do they have a novel-writing class? A short-story-only class? Prepare yourself for particular classes.

The point is, you should be practicing, and right now, in the precious months leading up to your program, you can write whatever you want. You don’t have to worry if an instructor is limiting you to particular prompts, or if your classmates are sick to death of your vampires-in-space saga. You’re already moving forward in your life, so you might as well embrace it as you await the official word that some program out there has decided they’d like to see what happens when you take a new step forward in your life as a writer.

Today’s Action Item: Write, write, write!

If you’re waiting to hear where you’ll soon be studying writing, there’s no better way to spend your time than by writing. Begin a fresh project, draft an old favorite story gem gathering dust, try a writing prompt, create a new 100-word short story, just get some writing under your belt!

Tomorrow we examine how to choose the MFA program we want.


[tags]mfa application, creative writing mfa, grad school application[/tags]

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