Editor’s note: This course only opens for enrollment a few times each year, and it’s open now through March 5, 2021. Register for DIY MFA here.
I don’t have a college degree, but I’m obsessed with academics. I love learning.
I just kind of abhor everything else about school.
Still, I’ve often wondered whether I’d enjoy a master’s program, especially one in creative writing, where your job is basically to write a novel. How cool would it be to get the guidance and education you need to write a book, plus the structure of someone actually expecting you to write a book in the end?
But, then there’s the whole school thing…grades, tuition, attendance, those old-fashioned lecture halls with the unreasonably tiny desktops made only for right-handers.
So I was super excited to get the opportunity to give this online course, DIY MFA 101, a test run for The Write Life.
The course gives you the information and structure you’d get with a traditional master of fine arts degree in creative writing, but without the hair-raising cost or demanding schedule.
What is DIY MFA?
DIY MFA 101 is designed for anyone who wants to write fiction or creative (narrative) nonfiction, especially aspiring authors who are ready to write a book.
It’s the best fit for new writers who want to learn the fundamentals of the craft, such as how to develop characters and organize a scene.
The course will teach you the habits and skills you need to write a novel or creative nonfiction book, plus the next steps to take to build your brand, expertise and career as an author.
The course includes 10 modules, a private Facebook group and group discussion calls, so you won’t miss the opportunity to chat with your instructor or bounce ideas off classmates. Each module includes a few 20- to 30-minutes videos, accompanied by worksheets. You can also download just slides and audio or transcripts of the videos if — like me — you’re more of a reader than a viewer.
The modules are split into three categories, the same ones you’ll see across all DIY MFA products: Write with Focus (mastering the craft), Read With Purpose (developing your expertise) and Build Your Community (building your platform).
Guidance to write your next novel
In its own words, DIY MFA 101 “is a graduate-style education you can fit around your life.”
That’s my speed. At just $499, it’s also in my budget — no student loan debt required.
DIY MFA’s founder, Gabriela Pereira, actually earned an MFA in writing (and an MA in human development to boot!), so she knows what a comprehensive writing course looks like.
She has a Master in Fine Arts in writing for children from The New School in New York and has taught several writing courses for organizations in the city. She’s an author of fiction and the “DIY MFA” nonfiction book.
Pereira’s experience means the MFA course offers a unique perspective. It satisfies my academic itch with lessons about things like responding to a genre of literature and developing your expertise that you won’t see in most online courses that approach writing from a commercial angle.
The MFA theme of the site is more than a gimmick; the information in this course truly feels like something you would learn in graduate school — but more affordable and digestible.
This course also provides lasting value to help you actually write a book: The printable worksheets build to a “playbook” you can use again and again for future projects, a huge value for fiction writers who need to track details of characters and scenes.
Should you sign up for this DIY MFA course?
I recommend this course for anyone who’s serious about writing a novel or memoir.
A master’s degree is a gigantic commitment of time and money, one that most writers aren’t willing or able to accommodate. DIY MFA 101 gives you a grad-school-inspired writing education with actionable steps you can apply to a career beyond academia.
The course follows the same philosophy you’ll get through DIY MFA’s blog, free email-based membership and book, but goes more in-depth and gives you a guided, step-by-step process. If you’re just dabbling with the idea of writing, you would be better off starting with one of the other offerings and diving into the course once you’re more ready to work on a book.
This MFA course is incredibly well organized and comprehensive, so I don’t have major complaints. Because I’m not a fiction writer, I would love to see this course (or another from DIY MFA) focus on informational nonfiction. Courses on writing nonfiction rarely focus on the craft, and DIY MFA seems well-suited to fill that gap.
What you get when you enroll in DIY MFA
Thinking about enrolling in DIY MFA 101? Here are all the details you need to know.
This 10-week program includes ten modules, full-to-the-brim with material to help you write more, write better, write smarter.
Your investment for the course is $499 or a payment plan with three monthly installments of $199. It’s not a small fee, but it’s also a drop in the bucket compared to what you could pay for a traditional MFA.
- 10 modules of material, each based on one of the essential components of a writer’s education.
- Comprehensive video lessons, with audio recordings and slides so you can digest the material in the way that’s best for you.
- Worksheets with each lesson, so you can absorb and understand what you learned.
- Membership to a private course website so you can access all the material anytime, anywhere.
- Group discussion calls, so you can ask questions and connect with other writers in the course.
- A private Facebook group, so you can continue the discussion outside of class time.
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Photo via Gorodenkoff / Shutterstock