I've been really lucky. I have a fantastic critique group based out of San Diego Writers Ink. It's a group that meets once a week and is led by a seasoned facilitator. But while I've seen significant improvement in my writing, I can't help but think, should I take the next step? Should I apply to an MFA? If I do take this step, is it the right step?
1) Opportunity to engage with like minded individuals
2) Structured time to learn craft
3) Continuous feedback from seasoned writers
Not To MFA:
1) Significant cost
2) Significant time commitment
3) May require relocation
Each of these issues is critical to deciding whether an MFA is right for you. One of my initial concerns was the need to relocate full time but nowadays there are low residency MFAs that give you the opportunity to hone your craft through intense one week residencies followed by a semester of self-created study.
I know what you're thinking. "But that isn't real immersion?" Yes and no. Sure, you aren't seeing your professors or other students on a daily basis, but writing is an exercise done mostly in solitude. The bonus of a low residency MFA is that you are in constant communication with your faculty advisor who only has a handful of students to focus on (not a classroom of 50).
In my case, I was to focus on one project and see it through. This would be a great opportunity for me to be able to experiment in a safe environment (and for less cost than a full time residency MFA).
Low residency MFAs are gaining wider traction and recognition these days. For a list of the top five low residency programs, click here.
It's not easy. There is still the lengthy application process. Wish me luck!