If I want to be a writer (I can't decide what type of writer) is graduate school important?

5 Answers
Graduate school can be important if you want to be a writer as a lifetime career. But don't just get a degree in writing because you like writing or are good at it. There are many great writers who got their degrees in other fields because they are so good at writing.
I am currently getting my Master's in creative writing and I am so glad I made the decision!! Sure, you can definitely be a writer without a Master's, but grad school will help you decide which kind of writing you like/ what kind of writer you want to be, will help you make connections in the professional world, will push you to submit to literary journals (on of my classes had this as a requirement and it helped me publish a piece I never would have submitted otherwise), and at the end, you'll leave with a thesis that is around 160+ pages that you'll be able to try and publish. Going to grad school for writing is a big debate, but I'm on the side of going for it, mainly because it builds confidence and helps you with the realities of the writing world far more than an undergraduate program will.
When it comes down to it, it's not the best writers who get published, it's the ones who are the most persistent, and grad school will drill that in to you.
As an aspiring writer and incoming graduate student, hopefully I can help.
1) Writing can take many forms. If you're looking to put your writing skills to work in the professional world by editing, copywriting, or technical writing, you can probably jump right into the industry without a graduate degree. 2) Creative writing is usually a preferred route, but a difficult one. Many creative writers have to do other jobs in order to stay afloat while working on writing projects. Of course, this isn't always the case, but usually a creative writers "day job" is one that isn't directly related to writing, although it can be! These jobs probably do not require a graduate degree. 3) One way many creative writers support themselves is by teaching. Because I enjoy creative writing and writing about writing (aka literature studies), I'm planning on honing both skills by going to graduate school. Eventually, I'd like to go on to doctoral studies and become a professor. Becoming a professor allows the me creativity, intellectual stimulation, and flexibility to thrive in both fields. However, this route is clearly a long road. The road to English professorship is often a competitive one, so if you are having doubts about your passion for it, you may want to reconsider.
Not unless you have a specific kind of writing decided, grad school is not as helpful because it's not about broad studies-- that is what your undergrad was for. Graduate studies are very directed and to the point so you need to have a specific goal in mind. You might consider getting a graduate certificate in a related subject like Publishing & Editing that allows you to take several different kinds of writing classes at the graduate level, which might help you narrow down what you want to do.
In short, no. Especially if you aren't sure what your career goals are, don't rush into a graduate program. First, get some experience under your belt. Take a look at what's out there, get an entry-level position, and learn what you do and don't like in the industry. Some people even decide they want to switch careers altogether.

It's best not to pigeonhole yourself into one subset when you can begin working and truly determine what works best for you and what doesn't. From there, you can decide if continued education would help you, or if working your way up without a graduate degree would be the best decision.

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