This is part 1 of my interview with Gabriela Pereira from DIY MFA. I have been a longtime fan of her site and podcast, which is a great resources for writers. We had so much to chat about that I broke the interview up into part 1: Why Writers Need Community and part 2: How to Find Your Writing Process. Want to support the show? Check out the rewards on Patreon! Don’t forget to join the Create If Writing Facebook group for YOUR writer community.
Listen to Create If Writing – Episode 028
People often think of writers doing their work in solitude, sitting in a room somewhere with a typewriter (don’t ask me why I ALWAYS see typewriters in my mind) and one million locks on the door to keep the world out. And yeah, we can be an introverted bunch. Though our work is often done alone, in this interview I’m talking with Gabriela Pereira from DIY MFA about why writers need community.
The DIY MFA Podcast was one of the first writing podcasts that I listened to when I had my great podcast epiphany last year. Gabriela Pereira calls herself the instigator of DIY MFA and in the last six years has built an incredible community of writers hungry to learn to write more, write better, and write smarter. DIY MFA is a homegrown writer’s community that is now a full-time job and a fantastic resource for writers across the board. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, or listen to the podcast.
What the Heck IS an MFA?
An MFA is a Master of Fine Arts and is considered the terminal degree for creative writing. I got mine in Fiction from UNCG and Gabriela got hers from the New School in New York. Mandy Wallace has a great post on it here: The Beginner’s Guide to the MFA. I feel like I didn’t do my program at University of North Carolina at Greensboro justice because I LOVED it. I miss it. I learned so much and, as I said in the interview, I would do it again.
Do YOU Need an MFA?
No. They are not necessary to get published, but you will learn a ton. You will learn a lot alongside other people and from your great mentors and teachers. (I learned from Michael Parker, Craig Nova, and Lee Zecharias.) Writers especially of genre fiction might not fit as well in an MFA program, as they tend to focus more on literary fiction. Gabriela started DIY MFA to provide an alternative for people who wanted the tools to write better, but didn’t have the money or ability to do an MFA or if the program was not a great fit.
The DIY MFA Community
The blog itself is not overrun with comments because the life of the community happens in the Facebook group—which you can join only if you are a subscriber. The students in the flagship course go even deeper into community with one another. (Find more on the course HERE!) The community is a safe space for questions and being honest and growing in writing TOGETHER. Gabriela has a sense of protectiveness and takes the role of being a moderator to maintain a positive influence. She believes it is the community leader’s prerogative. (I agree!)
Why Writers Need Community
Because writing is so lonely, often writers long for people who GET you. Writing also comes with a lot of rejection. Your fellow writers can be your support system and help you face rejection, negative comments, and what often amounts to a LONG wait. The hallmark of a great community is a group of writers who want to see each other succeed. Writers can also help each other be a resource for information. There are so many rules and guidelines that you have to follow (especially in traditional publishing) and other writers can be fantastic for crowdsourcing.
How to Build Community
Even in this busy social media age, person-to-person connections really help you to accomplish your goals and build a real platform. You aren’t building numbers but a community of readers. Personal recommendations have so much more impact than a banner ad.
Community starts at home, whether that’s your blog, your email, your Facebook group, or your whatever your fundamental network is with other people, and it extends from there. People often forget to ask friends first and think they need to find fans. Start with the people you know.
I will part two of this interview with Gabriela Pereira in a few weeks for you when we dive into writing PROCESS! Want to support the show? Head over to Patreon where you can pledge for as little as $4/month and get some sweet rewards!
Interested in making an income online WITHOUT using sponsored posts and ads? Join me and writer Angela England for a fantastic training on how you can do just that. We will be offering special bonuses to live viewers (you have two dates to choose from!) and will also host the Blog Elevated Twitter Chat on Monday, January 18 where we will also have some great deals. Look for #BlogElevated on Twitter at 9pm CST.
Links from the Episode
- Mandy Wallace
- Katie Krimitsos on Building Facebook Communities
- Bryan Harris Jumpstart Your Email List