Whitney in West Virginia writes...
I am a junior creative writing major at a very small private liberal arts college in the mountains of West Virginia. In any case, taking a cue from professors, fellow students, and my family, I have begun to look at MFA Programs. I have seen that you recommend “spending a year [or two] working or traveling” after undergrad before applying. Now, I don’t actually have any debt as of now because I have had a full ride here for undergrad, but I’m still not made of money…or opportunities for that matter. Frankly I don’t know what else to do, if I take this recommended break then I feel I will just end up living in a studio apartment and working at the GAP (as my sister did between her journalism degree and going to law school) and I just don’t want that. --My question is, should I really try and take a break or risk hurting my writing? --And if I should, what in the world should I do with myself (as backpacking through Europe or “finding myself” don’t seem to be feasible options as they do not pay the bills)?
I just think it's a bad idea, Whitney. I think students who go straight in get burned out.
Don't work at the GAP. Wait tables, or work a temp job. Work two jobs for ten months, then go traveling for two. It will be worth it.
Oh, to be twenty-one again! Sigh.
Taking a break from writing might hurt your writing. But taking a break from school won't. Be sure to join or start a writer's group, or sign up for a class in continuing education or a community college. Keep involved in writing, but give yourself a break from the rigors of academia. You'll be glad, once you get into an MFA down the line.