Creative Writing programs are typically available to writers from the high school level all the way through graduate school. Traditionally these programs are associated with the English departments in the respective schools, but this notion has been challenged in recent time as more creative writing programs have spun off into their own department. Most Creative Writing degrees for undergraduates in college are Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees (BFA). Some continue to pursue a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, the terminal degree in the field. At one time rare, PhD. programs are becoming more prevalent in the field, as more writers attempt to bridge the gap between academic study and artistic pursuit.
Creative writers typically decide an emphasis in either fiction or poetry, and they usually start with short stories or simple poems. They then make a schedule based on this emphasis including literature classes, education classes and workshop classes to strengthen their skills and techniques. Though they have their own programs of study in the fields of film and theatre, screenwriting and playwriting have become more popular in creative writing programs, as creative writing programs attempt to work more closely with film and theatre programs as well as English programs. Creative writing students are encouraged to get involved in extracurricular writing-based activities, such as publishing clubs, school-based literary magazines or newspapers, writing contests, writing colonies or conventions, and extended education classes.
Creative writing also takes places outside of formal university or school institutions. For example, writer Dave Eggers set up the innovative 826 Valencia in San Francisco, where young people write with professional writers. In the UK, the Arvon Foundation runs week long residential creative writing courses in four historic houses.
How does one learn to write? By writing, of course. But is learning to write best done that on one's own? Or is it best nurtured in a group, with a mentor, with the support of like-minded souls? Louis Menand has a long essay on academic creative writing programs in the June 8 New Yorker which explores their signal success, and their fabulous expansion. It’s worth reading for anyone who aspires to write or who wonders how good writing is accomplished. If I understand … more