Collegiate Foothills

For the aspiring writer, there are many valleys and hills and other landscape metaphors that he must cross.  One decision he must make is the route he plans to take in his formal education: what college and what major.  Is it worth the investment of time and money to study creative writing in college?  do you need to? So let's look at successful writers and their decisions about their education:

  • Ray Bradbury: His formal education never went farther than his high school diploma.

  • Dan Brown: He graduated from Phillips Exeter, his high school, and continued into Amherst college.

  • Meg Cabot: She attended Indiana University.  She made a point not to study writing there because a young man, whom would later become her husband, said that, "studying creative writing as a major sucks the love of writing out of you ". Taking his advice she studied studio art instead, however she did take a few workshops in creative writing.

  • John Grogan:  Went to Central Michigan University and graduated with a double major in English and Journalism.

  • Daniel Keyes: After he finished his service in the U.S. Maritime Service, he Graduated from Brooklyn college with a B.A. in Psychology.

  • Stephen King: Graduated from the University of Maine with a bachelors in English.  He wrote a weekly column for his college newspaper while he studied there.

  • Jean Kwok:  After moving to America from Hong Kong, Jean attended Harvard and graduated with honors in English and American Literature.  She went on to get a masters in fine arts at Columbia.

  • Stephenie Meyer: Graduated from Brigham University in Utah with a bachelors in English.

  • Jodi Picoult: Studied Creative writing at Princeton, then continued to get a masters in education at Harvard.

  • Nicolas Sparks: He graduated from his high school as valedictorian.  Then he went to Notre Dame on a track scholarship and majored in Business finance.

Of course, there are many more writers, but from the lot we have there is an array of stories.  However, English seems to be the most popular.  Though school and learning the technicalities of writing is important, learning through life is even more important.  Even in the strangest fiction, life is the basic subject matter.  (I already wrote about learning through life in my post An Education).  Ray Bradbury, mentioned above, is very adamant about this also calling himself a "student of life".  Yet you can be a student of life and a student of the book simultaniously.  It's just that the value of learning from what's around you is often overlooked.
No writer is the same as they come from so many different types of backgrounds.  What you choose in your education will affect that.  In the end, I believe it doesn't matter what you get your degree in, so long as it's something you enjoy and if possible practical.  Because you do need some means to pay for your writing habit.  The diploma on the wall, whatever it may be, won't get you published.  It's the things you learn and apply to your writing that will.



Lola X said...

Such a great post! Love visiting your blog!

Lola x

mooderino said...

I think education comes in all forms. A little experience of the real world also helps/

Great post, very illuminating.


Aiza said...

Thanks for the great comment. It's the kind of remark that makes me want to finish my memoir and make a real effort to get it published.


The Cello Strings said...

inspirational post.

bless your day.

Laurapoet said...

Great post! Especially for a young writer sifting through the crazy, overwhelming mess that is applying to college. I still have some time, but just deciding where to apply feels like a daunting task. Thanks for reminding me that success is not all dependent on where you get your degree.

M.C. said...

@Lola thank you and glad that you enjoyed it.

@Mooderino True, experience is very important. You'll notice that many writers were in their school news paper when they were younger. Thank you for commenting.

@Aiza you're welcome. We're all in this together.

@Cello Thank you

@Laura Thank you for your comment. College is daunting especially when you have big dreams and you're welcome.

Have a nice day :-)

Anonymous said...


Just stumbled upon your blog. I think in regards to this post, I've always been of the opinion that in order to write you simply need something to write with, something to write on and an inability to "not write". Degrees aren't necessary, just desire.

That's my 2 cents anyway.