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MisdreavusPrincess's avatar

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I was wondering if I could get some input from my fellow writers.

I'm currently attending a local community college, but I feel it isn't working for me.
I want to get a BA in Creative Writing and make a career out of it--I've been writing since I was a child, and it's my passion.
I really feel I could make an impact on the world, particularly the entertainment industry.

A friend recommended me to this site to get a degree (not a BA, mind you) for about $500 (I can also make monthly payments)

http://www.scitraining.com/Creative_Writing

While I may want to go back and finish college one day, I feel that there's too much going on in my life right now to really give it 100%.

I'm already trying to get my work out there, and I've published one short story on the Kindle store. I also plan to order some printed copies of my work and hand them out at a local convention some time soon.

http://www.amazon.com/Elodia-Englemen/e/B0081SRAY2/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

What should I do?
I feel very torn--I want to go ahead and get my degree.
It feels like college just puts you through so much fluff--I'm majoring in an English subject, why do I need to take advanced math and science classes?
It seems like a gimmick for the colleges to get more money neutral
But it's the "traditional" way of getting a degree.

Sure, an online degree may not be seen as "just as good" as a "real" college degree, but it's better than no degree at all, right?
It's hard to make a living off of writing, so I have to ask it. How far are you along in college? Overall this is something you need to discuss with your parents, an adviser at your college, and such.

I want to write for a living. I got a BS in Accounting. It pays the bills.

This "degree" isn't accredited I bet, so no, it's not anywhere near as good as an accredited degree. You can't expect a $500 piece of paper to compare to what you'd get going to a higher education institution. In fact, I'm getting a scam vibe from this site. I'd put my time into my classes and writing over it and try to get into something like Clarion.

You need math and science to round you out as an individual. You need exposure to subjects you wouldn't take unless you had to. You might even find you like them. I took an accounting course after Katrina "Just so I'd have it to put on my resume" and ended up changing from Computer Science (I didn't feel like it was working for me.) to Accounting. On top of that, you don't need a paper from anyone to write. I can think of a ton of professional writers who acquired degrees in other things. Sociology, physics, math, and a few more pop into mind.

Now, I know this is a long post bouncing around, but it is what it is.

I don't know what's going on in your life, but I'll end on this and just throw this out there. I've known many people that went to college who had families, full time jobs, and other obligations. They pulled through, even if it took a few extra years, and got their degree. You can too. You just may not be able to handle a full 12 hours. wink

One final thing, I'll say it again. It's hard to make a living as a writer. Handing your stories out at a local convention may be one path, but I don't see you mentioning submitting to contests, magazines, and agents. Stay in college, get a degree in something that can help you pay the bills, and write and submit like crazy.
MisdreavusPrincess's avatar

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Sir Icehawk
It's hard to make a living off of writing, so I have to ask it. How far are you along in college? Overall this is something you need to discuss with your parents, an adviser at your college, and such.

I want to write for a living. I got a BS in Accounting. It pays the bills.

This "degree" isn't accredited I bet, so no, it's not anywhere near as a college degree. You can't expect a $500 piece of paper to compare to what you'd get going to any higher education institution. In fact, I'm getting a scam vibe from this site. I'd put my time into my classes and writing over it and try to get into something like Clarion.

You need math and science to round you out as an individual. You need exposure to subjects you wouldn't take unless you had to. You might even find you like them. I took an accounting course after Katrina "Just so I'd have it to put on my resume" and ended up changing from Computer Science (I didn't feel like it was working for me.) to Accounting. On top of that, you don't need a paper from anyone to write. I can think of a ton of professional writers who acquired degrees in other things. Sociology, physics, math, and a few more pop into mind.

Now, I know this is a long post bouncing around, but it is what it is.

I don't know what's going on in your life, but I'll end on this and just throw this out there. I've known many people that went to college who had families, full time jobs, and other obligations. They pulled through, even if it took a few extra years, and got their degree. You can too. You just may not be able to handle a full 12 hours. wink

One final thing, I'll say it again. It's hard to make a living as a writer. Handing your stories out at a local convention may be one path, but I don't see you mentioning submitting to contests, magazines, and agents. Stay in college, get a degree in something that can help you pay the bills, and write and submit like crazy.


For now, I'm self publishing until I can get my name out there.
I've looked into literary agents before and submitted my work to one, only to find that she wasn't interested in anything under 50k words.

I don't exactly have "parents" to talk to about this.
I'm on my own, really.
Which is why my living situation is so hard.

I'm looking for a part time job to help pay rent, and I was homeless for about half a year.

My main issue with math is that I literally cannot do algebra.
I can't fully explain it, but no matter how many times a formula or method is explained to me, I CANNOT understand math.
I'm in elementary remedial algebra, and after this course and ANOTHER math remedial course, I have to take a college level math course.
I was only out of school for one year, and I already can't even pass the unit 1 placement test for just the elementary algebra!

How did I pass high school courses?
I only had to take three--foundations 2 math, algebra (I had to take it in two parts--a and b. The teacher only passed me because he pitied me), and geometry (there was no way I could pass it so I would skip the class day of test, paid someone a few bucks for an A test after they'd been handed back, wrote the answers on my hand in a code only I know, and took the makeup test. Otherwise, I couldn't have graduated.).
I failed algebra twice in high school before I had to take it in a and b.

Science, as long as math isn't added to it, I have no problem with.
Chemistry I know I'd have a problem with, but biology I passed with some hard work.

If a math disability existed, I think I would have it...my simply can't process it.
I've spent hours and hours trying to get help from tutors at school or at a community center that wasn't too far from where I lived.

I know living as a writer is hard, but I'm just aiming for a $40-50k a year salary.
I'm in a rush, so while I'd like to respond to all of that, I kind of have to be picky.

40-50k a year from writing is a little out there. First time novelist make on average 4,000 in advances and see no royalties. They probably won't for their first few novels. Shorts sell around 3 cents a word.

If you really want to write a for a living, drop this self-publishing thing for now. Save that until you have a following. Now, that's just my opinion. Start submitting like crazy to magazines and contests. Duotrope Digest has tons that take e-subs, so they cost you nothing. That's how you get your name out there. That's how you get publishing credits and recognized.

You need to talk to your adviser. You need to basically come clean and tell them you're having a serious problem with math. Tell them what you've tried. Maybe they know someone who can spend more time with you one on one several hours a week and help. This type of help is far better than random tutors and all. Or they may know of an associates or other program they offer that might be right for you.
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Read I'm an English Major now What?
Lazarus Larkin's avatar

Gaian

Here's a question. Why do you think you even have to go to college? You don't need a degree in anything to write fiction.

I might just be really bitter as someone working a fairly low-level job that I nonetheless love while buried in student loans, but I would be just fine financially right now if I'd never tried to go to grad school and it really bugs me that I felt like I had to get a "good job" to be happy.
marshmallowcreampie's avatar

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Eh, I mostly agree with what Sir Icehawk said. I'm not sure if that online degree is legit. Even if it was, getting a creative writing major probably wouldn't help you much. Writers don't usually make much money, especially beginner writers. Check if your college has a creative writing class, you'll probably be able to take the class without having to go into a writing major.

If you feel community college isn't working for you, rethink your plans. Maybe stop going after a degree and instead starting working in a career field. But make sure that in the end, you still have something to fall back on. As already stated, it's unlikely that you'll get super successful in writing. A writer is very lucky if she makes enough to get by from writing alone.
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Why do you want the degree? Is it to improve your creative writing skills or to prove to others you can write. If it's the latter, then I wouldn't do it. There are some creative writing courses out there, but I've heard from people that they don't strictly cover creative writing for novels or stories, but poems, songs, screen plays and more.

Read the course structure carefully, and read it again. Make sure you understand the content and that the content is relevant to your development. If one unit does not benefit you then look for a different course. Once you've found the course that's right for you make sure it is a legit site. $500 is a lot to lose if it's a scam.

Remember, it does not have to be a degree. There are probably courses out there that benefit you more that may only require a few months of study and examination, I've seen some that don't even offer exams.
Another thing, this online program is going to be what? An at-home textbook reading where you turn in assignments and take exams online? If so, why bother? Can buy craft books. If you're going to take a class for writing, you want one that'll actually workshop pieces. At least, that's my opinion.

In college, the creative writing classes are workshops in my experience. The one I took (fiction writing) was and the one I wanted to but didn't have time for was as well. Sure, you do some other stuff, but it's mostly this:

Everyday, the class will workshop a story or two. We did two. The writer will give you the story the class before. You go home, read it, mark it up as you see fit, and write a 1 page critique starting with what you thought the story was. In class, we workshopped it. That means we discussed the piece: what we liked and didn't, what worked and didn't, and such.

That's worth attending a physical class for. Better than just reading what people thought, but hearing it is great and seeing the nonverbal clues of the group.
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Sir Icehawk
Another thing, this online program is going to be what? An at-home textbook reading where you turn in assignments and take exams online? If so, why bother? Can buy craft books. If you're going to take a class for writing, you want one that'll actually workshop pieces. At least, that's my opinion.

In college, the creative writing classes are workshops in my experience. The one I took (fiction writing) was and the one I wanted to but didn't have time for was as well. Sure, you do some other stuff, but it's mostly this:

Everyday, the class will workshop a story or two. We did two. The writer will give you the story the class before. You go home, read it, mark it up as you see fit, and write a 1 page critique starting with what you thought the story was. In class, we workshopped it. That means we discussed the piece: what we liked and didn't, what worked and didn't, and such.

That's worth attending a physical class for. Better than just reading what people thought, but hearing it is great and seeing the nonverbal clues of the group.


A benefit to online classes is that you can do the work when it best suits you, especially if you work full time, are a parent or have other responsibilities. Some courses I've read (if not all) have tutors you can contact at any reasonable time, whether through email, text or phone call.

Although I agree that you can buy books that help you learn, but it's nice to have a structure to your learning. You may learn things you never thought was important. Although I self-study Egyptology I would love to do a course in it, so I can fill in the gaps in my knowledge and persue it further. In terms of creative writing, I'd stick to grammar books and practise as it.
Rennie`
Sir Icehawk
Another thing, this online program is going to be what? An at-home textbook reading where you turn in assignments and take exams online? If so, why bother? Can buy craft books. If you're going to take a class for writing, you want one that'll actually workshop pieces. At least, that's my opinion.

In college, the creative writing classes are workshops in my experience. The one I took (fiction writing) was and the one I wanted to but didn't have time for was as well. Sure, you do some other stuff, but it's mostly this:

Everyday, the class will workshop a story or two. We did two. The writer will give you the story the class before. You go home, read it, mark it up as you see fit, and write a 1 page critique starting with what you thought the story was. In class, we workshopped it. That means we discussed the piece: what we liked and didn't, what worked and didn't, and such.

That's worth attending a physical class for. Better than just reading what people thought, but hearing it is great and seeing the nonverbal clues of the group.


A benefit to online classes is that you can do the work when it best suits you, especially if you work full time, are a parent or have other responsibilities. Some courses I've read (if not all) have tutors you can contact at any reasonable time, whether through email, text or phone call.

Although I agree that you can buy books that help you learn, but it's nice to have a structure to your learning. You may learn things you never thought was important. Although I self-study Egyptology I would love to do a course in it, so I can fill in the gaps in my knowledge and persue it further. In terms of creative writing, I'd stick to grammar books and practise as it.


I've taken online classes, especially after Katrina. I'm just talking about creative writing ones. It'd seems less beneficial to me. You need that interaction with other people. A workshop could work online, but that site doesn't inspire my confidence.
An online degree is bad enough, but one in creative writing? Honestly, nothing might be better. It would save you money and effort.

Only take the degree if you're interested in it. It won't have much impact on your career or future prospects.
I agree with Sir Icehawk. It's always better if you have a legit degree. It's what companies and other employers are after. Although that's the case, you don't really need a professional degree in Creative Writing in order to write whatever you want to write. Writing welcomes everyone no matter what degree or course you are in.
phantomkitsune's avatar

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I have met people who have just graduated with BAs in Creative Writing from respected universities.

I am not even joking when I say that their degree gave them so few real-world tools that over the course of their tenure as Editor in Chief of the magazine I worked on I went from Editorial Assistant to Assistant Editor to Managing Editor to driving them out of town when I finally took their job. That took six months.

As far as I can tell, Creative Writing BAs are not particularly useful. English, maybe, Journalism, definitely (and not because of the idea of working in journalism), Literature or Classics for sure. MFAs are definitely interesting for the craft. But if BAs aren't much help, I can't see a non-accredited degree course being of much use.

A follow-up to the Creative Writing major I chewed up and spit out: she works in a yoga studio. I, who have a year and a half of university (dropped out) and an EMR license, am transitioning in a month to being paid just to do publicity and write ads. Education means less than finding opportunities. It opens doors for different opportunities, yes, but make sure that the degree you are getting will open the specific doors you want.

If you're looking to break more into writing, there are a few paths to go down: I have a friend who makes a couple hundred a month selling self-published erotica. There are also agents and publishers who blog, and you can find what they're looking for and submit relevant manuscripts to them.
schmeddyhead's avatar

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Nope. If you want to improve your writing, find a good writer's workshop. Creative writing degrees mean nothing, and there are about...zero...legitimate agents who will look more fondly on your manuscript because you have a degree. Zero.

Also, 40-50k a year starting out as a writer? That's more than some people with a consistent corporate salary make. I'm sorry, but that expectation from being a creative writer isn't very practical. You might be able to swing that as a higher-up journalist, but most writers have a day job. Even after multiple publications.

Read up on the industry you want to get into. That's what I did when I wanted to be a writer. Still do, but my college degree is for my day job because becoming a produced screenwriter is a literal pipe dream.

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