Advice

So You Want to Be a Writer. . . .

Welcome to my advice for the muse-ridden! If you’re an aspiring novelist, memoirist, or screenwriter, this may be the most valuable part of this website.

Full disclosure: Lenore (my partner in life and writing) and I have both taught creative writing at the university level for many years. She has an MFA and I have slightly more years in the business!  Individually or together, we’ve taught or presented at Florida State University, the Cape May Institute, The Naval Academy, George Mason University, Eckerd College, Florida Community College, Old Dominion University, University of Pittsburgh, The New College, Wilkes University (for sixteen years), and many other venues.  We’ve also done a lot of keynotes and presentations.  If you’d like to invite us to speak at your conference, college, writers’ group, library, or festival, please see the Contact Information page.
Though writing is a lonely art, it’s not good to wall yourself off.  You need to hear how others react to your work.  To be honest, the best and fastest  way to learn to write (and to make the contacts that are SO necessary, too) is to attend an accredited creative writing program.  This can be helpful even to those who aren’t necessarily in the market for a teaching or graduate degree.
Lenore and I currently teach at the Ossabaw Island Writers Retreat in Savannah, Georgia. This is a wonderful combination of residency on a remote island off the coast and online work in between residencies. This well-planned, rigorous program not only trains students to write, but also to plan, organize, refine, and market their work. See Ossabaw Island Writer’s Retreat  for more information. New this year: a one-semester, non-degree Master Class that lets you plan or refine your book under the supervision of an experienced, much-published writer. Contact Tony Morris, the director, for details.

There are many other good programs, though, and if you’re really serious about writing as a career, or plan to teach it, you really should seriously consider an MA or an MFA in the field.
If you decide against a formal degree program, however,  I recommend local writers’ workshops.  Also, go to as many writers’ conferences as you can conveniently make.  They help educate you in the craft.  They give you contacts you’ll yearn for come marketing time.  And they stoke that fire in the belly we all need.  If it’s close enough to you, we also can recommend the Writers Conference of Northern Appalachia also has a yearly conference, if you’re in their geographic region, or are writing about that area.  We often attend that.  And there are MANY more.

Whatever you decide to do, Good luck!  Writing has been good to me. May it treat you just as well!
David Poyer and John Gardner