Why apply to a Creative Writing Program? This is an important question, and one to which you may already know the answer. I’d like to offer my own answer though, and I hope you’ll keep it in mind throughout your application experience.
People often apply to programs for a variety of reasons: to complete a manuscript, to qualify themselves to teach on the college level, to live and work within a community of writers, and/or to escape back into academia from “the real world.” But here’s the real reason:
You’re drawing a line in the sand, and you’re saying I’m going to be a writer for the next few years, because I’ve always wanted to do that, and I’m going to see what I can make of myself. Any reason above and beyond that may actually be a good reason, but that promise to yourself – that you’re going to follow your muse and (at my risk of being melodramatic) your dream – is the key to making your experience work for you. If you don’t have that, then there are a lot of other options in life, and perhaps you should consider them instead. By choosing the graduate program route, you are staking a claim to being a writer, and you’re letting everyone around you know it. Lots of people talk about being a writer, you’re doing something about it.
And of course on a more practical level you’ll be developing your skills as a writer, you’ll be studying your craft closely, and you’ll be interacting with other students, writing teachers, and lots of good books in order to find your writing voice.
You are buying yourself time. And time is what a writer needs.
So this begs the question: Do you need a degree in order to be a writer? Of course not. If you want to be a writer, write. If you want help along the way, then a graduate program might be a good fit for you.
Keep in mind that a creative writing degree, especially of the