Why study Creative Writing formally? Why not just write on my own?
Writing on the side is a fine option and may be the right choice for you, depending on your objectives. Creative Writing courses are designed to develop a specific set of skills including acute critical reading of your own writing, published writing, and your peers’ writing; learning from others; rigorous, intensive revision; writing for deadlines; responding effectively, with insight and clarity, to classmates’ work both orally and in writing; working collaboratively; and preparing your writing for public consumption. The structure of the major is designed to increase your range and flexibility, asking you to write in a variety of genres and forms. The goal of the capstone of the major, Manuscript Workshop, is to produce a complete, polished manuscript of a quality it is unlikely you could achieve entirely on your own. The Creative Writing major, done right, is hard work and will shake up your sense of your capabilities and purpose as a writer. It’s not for everyone.
What will I do with a major in Creative Writing? (My parents want to know.)
You'll go onto the job market with excellent writing, revising, critical thinking, and oral communication skills developed and sharpened through the workshop process. There are few fields where these skills aren’t valued. Or you may go on to get an MFA in creative writing, as a number of Creative Writing majors do each year; this is a degree that prepares you for teaching and that significantly increases your chances of publication. You'll also have a second major (Creative Writing is a collateral major) and that may guide your career choice.
Can I fit in two majors in four years? And maybe even study off-campus?
Yes. Definitely. The Creative Writing major is nine courses, two of which can count toward your General Education requirements. It is not highly structured—the main goal is to take a workshop most semesters you’re at Coe—which means it’s easy to work in around your other major and study off-campus. Many Creative Writing majors study on Coe’s New York Term in the spring of their junior or senior year.
Why is Coe's Creative Writing major "collateral" rather than a stand-alone major like English?
Writers write about the topics and questions that inspire, move, and confound them. Great writing is profoundly engaged with the world—whether it’s a world entirely of the writer’s own invention or obviously and clearly the world in which the writer lives. From deep-space science fiction to hyper-realism to abstract language poetry, writing that matters to us is knowledgeable and thoughtful. The structure of the double major ensures that at the same time you are honing your craft as a writer, you are pursuing with rigor and depth another area of expertise. This will inform your writing in profitable ways, enhance the workshop experience, and broaden your range of options in the world of work, even if you stay within traditional writing fields like publishing and editing.