Do Writers Need Formal Training?

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I've had many people ask me whether they should major in creative writing or not. As someone who graduated from college with a BS in English, concentrated in creative writing, this topic is one near and dear to my heart. Many people think that, in order to be a writer, you need some kind of formal training. Whether you major in writing or take a class or course on the subject, the idea is that you're more qualified to write after receiving some instruction.

If you want to major in creative writing, go ahead. It doesn't matter as much as you might think. If you want to be a writer, read a lot and write a lot. That's all you need to do.


I'm not saying writing classes don't help--my workshops in college helped me produce regularly, learn to take criticism, and so much more--but they're not essential. You can get on well as a writer without them. If you're reading and writing every day, you're going to improve and grow as a writer. That's all there is to it.

There are so many writers out there without formal training: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, John Grisham, Harper Lee, Michael Crichton, and J.K. Rowling, to name a few. Clearly, you don't need an English major or creative writing classes to succeed as a writer. All you need is creativity, dedication, and daily reading and writing. The rest is just background noise.

The best advice I can give you? Put your butt in the chair and keep in there. Get words down every day. It doesn't matter how many as long as you keep moving forward. You don't need training to be a writer. You need courage, imagination, self-discipline, and luck.

How do you feel about formal training for writers? What do you think it takes to be a writer?

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"You don't need training to be a writer," says blogger @brianawrites. What do you think? (Click to tweet)
Is a formal education essential to writers? @brianawrites doesn't think so. (Click to tweet)