This Course Gives You a Graduate-Level Writing Education for Less Than $500

Editor’s note: We review ebooks, courses and tools for writers, so you can make good decisions about how to invest in your writing career. As you know, The Write Life only promotes people and products we can stand behind 100%. 

That’s why we’re excited to partner with Gabriela Pereira, author, speaker and the creator of a really cool course called DIY MFA 101. DIY MFA 101 is only open for a limited time! If the course is a good fit for you, register by Friday, May 10 at 11:59 p.m. EST.

I don’t have a college degree, but I’m obsessed with academics. I love learning.

I just kind of abhor everything else about school.

Still, I’ve often wondered whether I’d enjoy a master’s program, especially one in creative writing, where your job is basically to write a novel. How cool would it be to get the guidance and education you need to write a book, plus the structure of someone actually expecting you to write a book in the end?

But, then there’s the whole school thing…grades, tuition, attendance, those old-fashioned lecture halls with the unreasonably tiny desktops made only for right-handers.

So I was super excited to get the opportunity to give this online course, DIY MFA 101, a test run for The Write Life.

The course gives you the information and structure you’d get with a traditional master of fine arts degree in creative writing, but without the hair-raising cost or demanding schedule.

Guidance to write your next novel

DIY MFA 101 is designed for anyone who wants to write fiction or creative (narrative) nonfiction, especially aspiring authors who are ready to write a book.

It’s the best fit for new writers who want to learn the fundamentals of the craft, such as how to develop characters and organize a scene.

The course will teach you the habits and skills you need to write a novel or creative nonfiction book, plus the next steps to take to build your brand, expertise and career as an author.

The course includes 11 modules, a private Facebook group and group discussion calls, so you won’t miss the opportunity to chat with your instructor or bounce ideas off classmates. Each module includes a few 20- to 30-minutes videos, accompanied by worksheets. You can also download just slides and audio or transcripts of the videos if — like me — you’re more of a reader than a viewer.

The modules are split into three categories, the same ones you’ll see across all DIY MFA products: Write with Focus (mastering the craft), Read With Purpose (developing your expertise) and Build Your Community (building your platform).

What I liked about the course

In its own words, DIY MFA 101 “is a graduate-style education you can fit around your life.”

That’s my speed. At just $499, it’s also in my budget — no student loan debt required.

DIY MFA’s founder, Gabriela Pereira, actually earned an MFA in writing (and an MA in human development to boot!), so she knows what a comprehensive writing course looks like.

She has a Master in Fine Arts in writing for children from The New School in New York and has taught several writing courses for organizations in the city. She’s an author of fiction and the “DIY MFA” nonfiction book.

Pereira’s experience means the course offers a unique perspective. It satisfies my academic itch with lessons about things like responding to a genre of literature and developing your expertise that you won’t see in most online courses that approach writing from a commercial angle.

The MFA theme of the site is more than a gimmick; the information in this course truly feels like something you would learn in graduate school — but more affordable and digestible.

This course also provides lasting value to help you actually write a book: The printable worksheets build to a “playbook” you can use again and again for future projects, a huge value for fiction writers who need to track details of characters and scenes.

Should you sign up?

I recommend this course for anyone who’s serious about writing a novel or memoir.

A master’s degree is a gigantic commitment of time and money, one that most writers aren’t willing or able to accommodate. DIY MFA 101 gives you a grad-school-inspired writing education with actionable steps you can apply to a career beyond academia.

The course follows the same philosophy you’ll get through DIY MFA’s blog, free email-based membership and book, but goes more in-depth and gives you a guided, step-by-step process. If you’re just dabbling with the idea of writing, you would be better off starting with one of the other offerings and diving into the course once you’re more ready to work on a book.

This course is incredibly well organized and comprehensive, so I don’t have major complaints. Because I’m not a fiction writer, I would love to see this course (or another from DIY MFA) focus on informational nonfiction. Courses on writing nonfiction rarely focus on the craft, and DIY MFA seems well-suited to fill that gap.

DIY MFA 101 is now open for enrollment

Thinking about enrolling in DIY MFA 101? Here are all the details you need to know.

This 10-week program includes ten modules, full-to-the-brim with material to help you write more, write better, write smarter. Your investment for the course is just $499 or a payment plan with three monthly installments of $199.

You’ll receive:

  • 10 modules of material, each based on one of the essential components of a writer’s education.
  • Comprehensive video lessons, with audio recordings and slides so you can digest the material in the way that’s best for you.
  • Worksheets with each lesson, so you can absorb and understand what you learned.
  • Membership to a private course website so you can access all the material anytime, anywhere.
  • Group discussion calls, so you can ask questions and connect with other writers in the course.
  • A private Facebook group, so you can continue the discussion outside of class time.

Click here to enroll in DIY MFA 101

Are you ready to turn your writing dream into reality? The time is now. Don’t let another day, week, or year go by. DIY MFA can teach you what you need to know to get there. Remember, the course is only open for a limited time — register by Friday, May 10 at 11:59 p.m. EST. Click here to register for DIY MFA.

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The post This Course Gives You a Graduate-Level Writing Education for Less Than $500 appeared first on The Write Life.

How to Write a Good Pitch

Editor’s note: This is an excerpt from our ebook Earn More Money as a Freelance Writer. This guide, written by successful freelance writer Nicole Dieker, will prompt you to set — and reach — goals for the next phase of your freelance-writing career. It will help you ditch your entry-level writing jobs and land higher-paying clients. Grab your copy!

If you don’t ask for the work you want, you’ll never get it.

Let’s look at how to improve the way you ask for that work.

We’re going to focus on pitching articles, blog posts and stories. Pitching isn’t the only way freelancers get gigs — I’ve gotten jobs by submitting a resume and clips, as well as by completing a sample assignment — but it’s one of the most common.

If a job wants you to submit a resume and clips, it’ll say so in the application guidelines. For everything else, including the majority of the blogs and online publications out there, you’re going to need to get really, really good at pitching.

How do you write a good pitch? If you’re pitching a publication with a set of submission guidelines, start there. A lot of publications tell you exactly what they want.

Be aware that the submission guidelines are sometimes hidden under “Contact” or “FAQ,” and it never hurts to search “[PUBLICATION] submission guidelines” if you can’t find anything on the outlet’s website.

Sometimes editors write blog posts or tweets describing what they want in a pitch. If you’re interested in working with a specific editor, it doesn’t hurt to search their name plus words like “submission,” “submission guidelines” and “pitch me.”

Get clear on the story you want to tell

Once you’ve figured out what submission guidelines to follow, the next step is to get really clear on your story.

One of the most common mistakes people make is failing to state the story they want to tell.

What do I mean?

Well, writers often say they want to write about something. “I want to write about Famous Person X.” “I want to write about gender in the workplace.” That’s an idea, not a story.

By the time you pitch, you should have enough background research to be able to pull the story out of your idea, as follows:

Hit Musical Hamilton Is Great — But Is It Addictive? Just about everyone I know is obsessed with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s new musical Hamilton, to the point that we’re listening to the 2-hour 22-minute cast recording nearly once a day. What makes music like this feel addictive, to the point where the first thing we want to do after finishing the album is start it at the beginning again? I’d reach out to a musicologist and a psychologist for their thoughts on the nature of addictive music.

That’s a real pitch I sent to Popular Science, which they accepted. Notice how my pitch included not only the story, but also the method by which I plan to research the story?

Writers often skip this step, but adding a sentence or two describing your methodology shows an editor that you’re serious about your idea. It also lets an editor know that you have a plan of action, and that your finished draft will be backed up with both sources and substance.

Not all stories require research, of course. Personal essays, for example, don’t necessarily need a methodology statement. But too many writers pitch stories as if they were personal essays: “My thoughts on why Hamilton is addictive,” for example.

No editor cares about my thoughts on Hamilton. They care about a music expert’s thoughts on Hamilton, crafted into an eye-catching story that promises a reader an answer to a question they’ve probably asked themselves: Why can’t I stop listening to this album?

That bit about promising the reader an answer to a question they’ve probably asked themselves? That’s the pitch’s benefit. Whenever you craft a pitch, think about how it will benefit the publication’s audience.

Will it give them the answer to a question? Will it prompt a discussion in the comments? Will it ask them to think differently about a common experience?

You don’t need to state your benefit directly in the pitch — in fact, please don’t write “this story will prompt a discussion in the comments” — but it’s important to consider the benefit as you put your pitch together.

After all, publications aren’t interested in what you want to write. They’re interested in what their readers want to read.

Lastly, my Hamilton pitch was only a paragraph long because I had already built a relationship with one of Popular Science’s editors. If you’re pitching a publication for the first time, put a short bio at the end with links to a few relevant clips that — you guessed it — establish expertise in your beat.

Sample pitch

Here’s a sample pitch, so you can see exactly what a solid pitch looks like.

Writing a sample pitch email is tricky because every publication has slightly different guidelines. With that in mind, here’s what a good pitch email might contain:

SUBJECT LINE: Check the publication for guidelines. I often write “PITCH: [HEADLINE]” in the subject, e.g. “PITCH: Are Dogs Better Pets Than Cats?”

SALUTATION: You can go with the formal “Dear [EDITOR]” here, although I often just start my emails with “Hi!”

INTRO PARAGRAPH WITH HEADLINE: Introduce your relationship to the publication, if relevant, and your pitch’s suggested headline. (I got the “always add a suggested headline” advice from Carol Tice.)

STORY AND METHODOLOGY PARAGRAPH: Briefly explain your story and the methodology by which you will tell it.

BIO PARAGRAPH: Share a bit about yourself and link to relevant clips.

NAME AND CONTACT INFO: Thank the editor and “sign” the email with your name and contact info.

Hi! I’m a huge fan of Dogs and Cats Daily — I comment as DogFan27 — and I wanted to pitch a story that I haven’t seen on the site but I think your readers will appreciate: Are dogs better pets than cats?

This story will look closely at three different families, each of whom have dogs and cats in the home. I’ll interview each family, asking them to share stories about their pets’ behavior and comment on which pets they enjoy interacting with most. I’ll also interview a veterinarian and a pet psychologist to learn more about animal behavior and discuss whether dogs or cats make better pets for certain personality types.

I’ve previously been published in Dogs Are Great Monthly and I Love Cats Magazine. My clips include: “10 Things You Didn’t Know About Puppies,” “Cats Are Purrfect,” and “Do Dogs or Cats Save More Lives?”

Thanks for considering my pitch!

Goldie Retriever


Pitching can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be such a daunting task. Do your homework and follow this simple email pitch formula and you’ll be well on your way to getting an editor to say “yes” to your idea.

Like what you read here? Be sure to download the full ebook Earn More Money as a Freelance Writer. This guide, written by successful freelance writer Nicole Dieker, will prompt you to set — and reach — goals for the next phase of your freelance-writing career. It will help you ditch your entry-level writing jobs and land higher-paying clients. Grab your copy!

Photo via / Shutterstock 

The post How to Write a Good Pitch appeared first on The Write Life.