Welcome to DIY MFA! We’re so glad that you’re here. On this page you’ll find information about how DIY MFA works, and how you can start implementing these tools right away. But first, check out this short video for a quick intro. Enjoy!
How DIY MFA Works
Here’s a secret no one ever tells you. The typical MFA (Master of Fine Arts) boils down to one simple formula:
This means that to create a do-it-yourself version of the MFA, all you need to do is: write with focus, read with purpose, and build your community. Read on to learn more or use the menu above to explore each category. We’ve also highlighted some key DIY MFA articles below to help you get started. For more general information about DIY MFA, visit our FAQs page.
Write with Focus
Learn how to make writing a priority while still fitting it into your existing life. Boost your creativity through prompts and writing exercises. Hone your craft and master writing techniques. Discover tools to help you keep up your motivation so you can finish that project you’ve always wanted to write. Visit this page for more writing resources.
- Create a Stash of Characters – A story’s not a story unless you have a character. This article will show you how to find compelling characters for your stories.
- Setting the Mood – Productivity need a boost? Here are five ways you can find inspiration and get motivated to write.
- Plot Archetypes and Power Plays: Where Does Your Story Fit? – Use these plot archetypes to figure out the central conflict of your story.
Read with Purpose
Make the most of your reading time, by focusing on reading things that will help improve your writing. Build a reading list so you can read with purpose. Learn techniques so you can read like a writer. And save shelf space by investing only in books you actually need (DIY MFA will help you choose). Visit this page for more reading resources.
- The Essentials: Books on Writing I Can’t Live Without Your writing library should consist of three types of books: books about the craft of writing, collections of prompts and exercises, and one or two books about the writing life, for inspiration.
- Learning From the Masters There are four types of books you should have on your reading list: Competitive Books, Informative Books, Contemporary Books and Classics.
- Build Your Reading List – Download the worksheet and use it to create your reading list.
Build Your Community
These days, it’s not enough anymore to just write a book, send a query and hope for the best. Maybe you’re hoping to publish your novel, or you want to see your story grace the pages of a literary magazine, or you plan to self-publish your work. Whatever your goal, you need to build a community of readers. You need to find your audience.
In addition, you also have to find a group of trusted writers who will give you feedback and challenge you to be the best writer you can be. Whether you find these fellow writers through a workshop, writing conferences, or online, DIY MFA can be support network that will help you build a community of readers and writers specific to your own needs. Visit this page for more community resources.
- Why Writers Need Community – Five good reasons why you should consider joining a writing community.
- 5 Lessons about Community that Writers MUST Learn – Community isn’t about finding a ton of people to champion your work, just the right people.
- Networking for Authors – Networking tips to help you make and maintain connections.
Why DIY MFA Works
The beauty of DIY MFA is that while it covers most of what you’d get in a traditional MFA, you get to decide how to structure your writing, reading and community so you can reach your goals. Want to write thrillers? Good news! You don’t have to spend hours studying eighteenth century parlor-room novels (unless you want to, of course). You read the books you want to read, books that will serve your writing. When it comes to community, you connect with other thriller-writers. No one’s going to force you to go to a poetry reading or a romance writer’s conference. Of course, branching out beyond your chosen genre will always enhance your writing and can open your mind to new ideas, but you choose how you invest your time in a way that serves your goals.
Balancing the three aspects of DIY MFA can be overwhelming, but if you make a plan it’s easy to stay on track. The best way to keep track of your writing, reading and community is to draw out a pie chart. Each slice on the pie represents how much time you spend on the three parts of DIY MFA. Depending on what projects you have on your plate, your pie may emphasize one area more than another. I find that the best balance for me looks like this:
Of course, sometimes you have to adjust your DIY MFA plan to fit with other things that are going on in your life. For instance, if you’re researching material for a new project, you might find that reading needs to take center stage. On the other hand, during a writing conference, community will probably get the largest slice and the other pieces will shrink down to make room. Be flexible and tweak your DIY MFA Plan. No matter what challenges life throws your way, you’ll be able to keep writing.
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