By Lucy Wyndham
There are an estimated 281,300 people employed as writers, editors, and authors, according to Student Scholarships. The organization also predicts that this number will grow by more than 12% over the next decade. While it’s impossible to know how many of these individuals have a writing degree under their belts, there are plenty of respected writers who never went to university, including H.G Wells and Charles Dickens. So, just how crucial is a university degree when you’re an aspiring writer?
Benefits of a writing degree
The truth is that bagging a writing degree at university isn’t going to guarantee you a job, but it does come with many advantages. The beauty of studying writing is that you’ll constantly be surrounded by like-minded people that you can bounce ideas off. You’re also likely to build up a network of people within the writing industry, including publishers or content marketers, who you may be able to call upon during your career. Having a writing degree may also help you get noticed when applying for writing gigs and may mean you won’t have to start off taking free or low-paid posts. However, to get work you’ll need a solid portfolio behind you regardless of whether you’ve got a degree or not.
But you can also do it without a degree
Writing isn’t an easy job and you’ll need to possess multiple skills, including good grammar, effective communication, the ability to conduct deep research, and be able to self-edit your work. But these skills can all be learned without having to commit to a four-year year university course and $26,900 of debt on average. Alternative options to help you build the skills you’ll need to succeed as a writer include signing up for creative writing courses, enrolling in online training, joining writers’ forums, and starting a blog. You can even further your writing career without the GRE as there are plenty of accelerated online courses that allow you to study for a degree from the comfort of your own home. This is beneficial if you want to avoid uni life, fast track your career, and start professionally writing as soon as possible.
Feedback could be the persuading factor
All writers will receive rejection throughout their careers. J K Rowling was famously rejected by 12 different publishers before her Harry Potter series was picked up, while Stephen King’s Carrie was turned down by 30 publishers. Feedback is an important thing for any writer, but how you process feedback, including negative criticism, could help you decide whether studying writing at university is for you or not. If you’re keen on feedback on every single thing you write and want a hand-holding experience then university could be perfect for you. On the other hand, if having your work compared to your peers’ sends a shudder down your spine and you’d much rather learn as you go, then skipping university might be the better option.
There’s no denying that there are benefits for writers that wish to study for a writing degree at university. However, university doesn’t guarantee success and there are plenty of options for writers to succeed in the industry without having to go uni every day for years.