Can I be a writer without a degree? The quick answer is yes, you certainly can be. It really doesn’t matter what type of writing you plan on doing, freelance writing, fiction, creative nonfiction, or for a magazine. Even so, there are some advantages to receiving a writing education, but there are many ways to go about it. Check these out to see if one is right for you.
Can I Be a Writer Without a Degree
College degrees can be great, and while they can help your writing, they aren’t necessary if you don’t have the time, money, or motivation to get one.
I happen to have a couple of degrees in writing, but I know plenty of writers that don’t have an English degree.
Both of mine are in writing and not English.
But let’s take a look at what you need or don’t need and what can help you depending on what type of writing you want to do.
1. Freelance Writing
If you want to be a freelance writer, then as they say, just do it.
You don’t need a college degree for this type of writing.
In all the years I’ve been a freelance writer no one ever asked me if I had a degree in writing.
Honestly, all they care about is whether or not you can write well and meet your deadlines.
Your writing samples will show your writing ability and once you write something for them it will show that you meet your deadlines.
No formal education is required.
Of course, if you need to brush up on your grammar then you should do that, but you don’t need a college education to improve.
You can find information online or get a good grammar book.
If you want to do more specialized freelance writing such as writing sales letters or email series or even case studies, then it makes sense to take a class on them.
That’s what I did.
They were all worth the money.
2. Fiction Writing
You certainly can get a degree in creative writing.
But you don’t really need one.
It’s not the school diploma that will make you good at creative writing.
However, I do feel there are a couple of advantages to getting a degree.
It gives you an opportunity to learn the craft of writing.
Anyone can write well if they put the work and effort into it.
Writing is a craft and a craft can be learned.
That doesn’t mean you will end up being the next great novelist, but it does mean you can improve your writing abilities.
Chances are if you are writing right now there are things you are doing that you really shouldn’t be doing.
You’re not aware of issues with your writing because you don’t have anyone to point them out to you.
That’s the advantage of going to college to get a degree in writing.
That’s all your professors do.
Tell you what is wrong with your writing.
While that sounds horrible, it really isn’t.
It truly helps you to see where you can improve and you have the support to do so.
The other advantage of going to college if you want to write books or other types of fiction or even poetry is that you will have a community of writers to engage with.
Let’s face it, for most of us, we don’t really have anyone to talk to about our writing.
If you ask someone for an opinion they will typically say something such as, “I like it.” Or “It’s great.”
That doesn’t help you and it really tells you nothing about what is good about your piece and what needs work.
They typically don’t have the interest to go into depth about your writing and they don’t have the vocabulary to talk about it at any kind of debt that would truly help you.
If you are in a writing class, both your fellow students and teachers will be able to give you real feedback that you won’t get anywhere else.
Of course, you don’t have to get a college education to find that type of community.
You can opt for some sort of formal education and take a few writing classes at a community college.
If you’re lucky there might be some writer’s groups in your area or classes offered through a college extension program or community center.
My advice if you don’t want to get a degree is to try to find a group in your area that you can join that will comment on your writing.
Most successful writers didn’t write in a vacuum. They had someone they could turn to for real insight into their writing.
3. Creative Nonfiction
I love creative non-fiction and if it is something you want to write, again, you don’t need a college education to write it.
I will say that you need to get good at research.
Unless you are writing about yourself or someone you know, you will have to do research.
You might also need to interview people.
A research methods class can help you with this.
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What’s Most Important
Really what is most important for you to be a success is practice.
The more you write the better you will write.
Your writing skills will improve simply by writing.
This writing experience will pay off in the long run.
Try to write something every day.
Take creative writing classes when you can.
Join a writer’s group.
And when you aren’t writing, spend your time reading good literature.
When you see something that is working well in someone else’s writing, spend some time to figure out why it works, and then apply it to your work.
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To Sum it All Up:
You can have the writing career that you want whether it is freelance writing, fiction, or nonfiction. You just need to put the work in and be open to criticism. If you want to be a professional writer then you need to write. Successful authors put the work in and work to improve their writing style. So, if you don’t want to go to college, don’t worry, you can still have the career in writing that you have always dreamed of.