What is DIY MFA? (and other FAQs)

by Gabriela Pereira
published in Community

Today, I wanted to give you a short introduction to the program and answer some frequently asked questions, or FAQs, including the biggie: What is DIY MFA all about?

Those who are familiar with the DIY MFA program probably already know the answers to most of these questions but for those who are new to the program, I thought it would be good to take some time and iron out the details.

Sound good? Great! Let’s get started.

What is DIY MFA?

This is probably the question I get most often. DIY MFA stands for Do-It-Yourself MFA. No, it doesn’t stand for “Do-It-Yourself Mafia,” though some may think that would be much more exiting. MFA has nothing to do with organized crime.

OK that’s nice, but what-the-hey is an MFA?

The MFA stands for master’s degree in the fine arts. You can go to school for an MFA in any number of fields including: Film, Studio Art and Sculpture, Music, Theater and, of course, Creative Writing. This is usually a two-year degree (if done full-time), though length can vary between different programs. Also, some schools offer an MA (Master of Arts) in Creative Writing and some schools even have PhD’s in Creative Writing. The most popular advanced degree in Creative Writing is still the MFA, though, which is why I decided to call this program DIY MFA.

Do you have something against MFA programs? Is that why you created DIY MFA?

MFA degrees can be great–in fact, I happen to have one. For some people, the MFA is a good fit, but for others it just isn’t feasible. Logistics, time and money are all factors that play into a writer’s decision to do an MFA and for some people it just doesn’t make sense. But this doesn’t mean these writers are any less serious than their MFA-going counterparts. That’s where DIY MFA comes in. I want to share some of what I learned in my own MFA experience and help writers develop their own Do-It-Yourself writing plans.

If I do the DIY MFA, will I get a degree?

Sadly, no, at least not a real degree. I would be happy to grant you an imaginary degree but that won’t help you much in terms of building credentials or a resume. DIY MFA is not accredited by any powers-that-be so if your goal is to get an official degree, you’ll need to go to an official school.

More importantly, an official degree would go against the core beliefs of DIY MFA. The whole point of DIY MFA is that learning can’t be defined by geographical location or a set period of time. Learning happens throughout life. You learn something every time you write a new sentence, send out a query or get a rejection. DIY MFA’s #1 goal is to help you reclaim your writing education and take charge of what you learn, rather than letting it take charge of you. DIY MFA is about being an active participant in your own writing life.

How does DIY MFA work exactly? Are there classes? Do I have to do homework?

Starting off, DIY MFA will center around this blog. There are posts every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. I’ll also be tweeting from @DIYMFA and posting updates on the DIY MFA Facebook page. As DIYMFA.com grows, I plan to release more worksheets, workbooks and other products to help you along on your journey. The idea is to give you lots of different ways to construct your own personalized DIY MFA program. You can participate as much or as little as you like—whatever fits your schedule and your writing style.

OK, that’s great, but where’s the structure? I need structure!

Don’t we all. As a writing teacher, I’m all about setting up a curriculum that ties together, so don’t fret: you’ll have structure if you need it. Each week the posts on the DIY MFA blog will center on one topic. Topics will include: reading the literature, creating characters, plotting a novel, connecting with the writing community, etc.

  • Monday: Columnists talk about the craft and business of writing.
  • Tuesday: Columns focusing on topics specific to various genres.
  • Wednesday: This is the day that the new DIY MFA Radio episodes are posted.
  • Friday: Just in time for the weekend are our #5onFri posts.

So that’s the gist of DIY MFA. You can pick and choose what parts of the program work best for you. Of course, I always love to hear feedback from you all, so if you have any thoughts you’d like to share or topics you want me to focus on, don’t hesitate to email me at: gabriela at DIYMFA dot com.

Are you excited? I know I am.

  • Congrats on the relaunch!

  • Shelly Immel

    It begins! Very exciting to see the new & improved DIY MFA take off!

  • I second Dan. Congrats on relaunching DIYMFA!! Excited to see what you have it store. 🙂

  • Gabriela

    Thanks everyone! I’m super-excited too and can’t wait to introduce some fun new things to the program.

  • I’m very excited. I’ll be doing some revision work on a WIP and it will be fun to play with something else while I’m ripping my writing into tiny little pieces.

  • You know what’s awesome – I actually started my own personalized MFA at the beginning of this year, complete with syllabus. I’m totally with you on DIY MFAs! Would love to guest post if you’re open to it.

    And I love that we’re both bilingual!

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