Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Lies They Tell Writers, Part 11: Get an Education.

I am all for learning. You can never learn enough, and you should never stop learning.
Education, however, is something else again. At least some of the time.
In our society, every attempt has been made to make education synonymous with job training. And, to a large extent, it has been successful. Forget about learning how the world works and why, or about people and why they do what they do. Instead, become a number cruncher of one kind or another and earn big bucks.
But that’s another story. Before I wander too far afield, let’s remember that this story is about writing, and education plays a role here, as well. (Unfortunately, the part about jobs and big bucks is not transferable.)
If you want to be a writer, they tell you, get an education. Enroll in a creative writing program at a highfalutin university and keep going until you get all the degrees they offer. Get accepted at a prestigious academy for a few weeks or months of intensive training.
I know people who have done this. And keep doing it. Trouble is, they never seem to get around to writing much of anything, or finishing anything they do write.
It’s as if they examine and evaluate and assess and scrutinize to the extreme, resulting in analysis paralysis.
There are, of course, exceptions. Still, most of the published writers I know seem to get by with degrees in pedestrian pursuits such as journalism, or history, or law, or accounting, or business, or education, or agriculture, or—well, you get the idea.
Some of them have no degrees at all. But they are learned. And they keep learning.
And they keep writing. 


  1. BRAVO! I have never taken a writing course or attended a writing workshop. I just write. A lot.

    1. Whatever you did to learn to write, Amy, it was certainly effective. Thanks.

  2. Interesting, Rod, I've been thinking a lot on this topic lately. I have a business administration degree and would love to earn a history degree, mostly because I love history. The best thing about "learning" as a writer, I think, is that nothing you know goes to waste.

    1. That's true. Learning is never wasted. And learning can be enjoyable. Education, however...