There are freelance writers with a whole string of letters after their names and there are freelance writers who haven’t gone to college. The variety in academic credentials held by writers can lead someone to go a little crazy in trying to decide just how much education a writer really needs.
As Much As It Takes
This may not seem like a helpful response, but you need as much education as it takes — for some people, even a Ph.D. in Creative Writing isn’t going to help them write in a way that audiences want to read or editors want to publish. For others, writing can come much more easily and just a class or two to put some polish on those writing skills is more than enough.
Most of us are somewhere in the middle. We’ve got a good grounding as far as our writing skills go, but a little continuing education will help us stretch ourselves as writers, learn new things and continue to improve. Where we get that education could be in the course of pursuing a degree, or by taking part in a writer’s group, or taking a class online. It just depends.
I am slowly, but surely, working my way towards a Master’s degree. Personally, I’ve looked at my business and decided that I need a little more knowledge in order to keep growing in the directions that I want to go. It’s worth noting, I think, that I’m not picking up a degree in writing. Instead, I’m going for a degree in Publication Design, which covers everything from managing a publication to editing to graphic design. I’m learning from instructors who have worked for and even ran newspapers, magazines and websites.
Your education may not have anything to do with writing, as long as you have the necessary skills to put together a readable passage. For some of us, our continuing education focuses on business topics or a field related to our niche. It’s just a matter of figuring out what information you need to keep moving forward.
I don’t think that a Master’s degree is the only way for me to get the information I need, but it’s definitely one of the easier ways to do so. It doesn’t hurt that if I’m interested in taking on certain corporate clients, my academic credentials will help me. But I’m also taking care to avoid going into debt to get my degree, even though that means taking just once class per semester. I firmly believe that if you have to go into debt in order to pick up an advance degree, that extra time in school isn’t really worthwhile.
Everyone needs different information in order to continue to grow as a freelance writer. Whether you’re getting that information in the classroom doesn’t matter so much as the fact that you’re continuing to learn.