Do writers need Education?

Brian Neimeier, who will soon be coming on board here at superversiveSF and who was recently published in Sci Phi Journal: Issue #3 has an interesting essay on the question of whether a professional writer should get a formal education in writing if they want to make a career out of it.

Have a read

I’ve come across a number of articles by professional authors that deal in part with how much, if any, formal education is required to write professionally. (Specifically, should aspiring authors take creative writing classes, pursue English degrees, attend writers’ workshops, etc.?)

The consensus seems to be: “Get educated enough to know proper grammar; then ditch academia and learn the rest by writing.”

This advice contradicts the message touted by the host of elders, media figures, and educators charged with guiding me during my formative years. I’ve always believed that their efforts were well-meant. I’ve since learned that they were wrong and my more experienced colleagues are right.

Like most writers, I displayed a love of reading from a young age. I produced my first crude short stories in grade school. By the time I started high school, the idea had dawned on me that I might pursue writing as a career.

My enthusiasm began to fade as I slogged through the advanced English curriculum. The creative writing class I elected to take smothered the feeble remnants of my aspirations.

I bet this sounds familiar: being forced to read dreary novels like The Scarlet Letter and The Catcher in the Rye by teachers who worship “literary” fiction and scoff at speculative fiction. That kind of environment was pretty disheartening to a kid who was then devouring the original series of Dune novels. The unstated yet clear message was that sci-fi and fantasy were for childish philistines.

Read the rest