DIY MFA: Write with Focus, Read with Purpose, Build Your Community

DIY MFA: Write with Focus, Read with Purpose, Build Your Community


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781599639345
Publisher: F+W Media
Publication date: 07/08/2016
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 275,692
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Gabriela Pereira is a writer, teacher, and self-proclaimed word nerd who wants to challenge the status quo of higher education. As the founder and instigator of, her mission is to empower writers to take an entrepreneurial approach to their education and professional growth. Gabriela earned her MFA in creative writing from The New School and teaches at national conferences, at local workshops, and online. She is also the host of DIY MFA Radio, a popular podcast where she interviews best-selling authors and offers short audio master classes. To join the word nerd community, go to

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DIY MFA: Write with Focus, Read with Purpose, Build Your Community 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The one stop shop for all your how to needs. This book has a ton of info in it. It guides you through the process of writing then gives you tips on how to study the craft and build your community. There are some great gems in here like the TADA! method and character compass for bring your characters to life. If you're like me and read a ton of writing books a lot of the information won't be new to you, BUT if you want a quick reference where everything is in one place this is perfect. Great For: Beginners who are just starting out, Pros who want everything in one nice neat place.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gabriela Pereira’s book DIY MFA is a one volume writer’s course. In it you will find everything you need to become a serious writer. She did not offer a book for hobbyists or dabblers, but for those who truly desire to learn, grow, and succeed as writers. In step-by-step chapters, Gabriela explains just how to set up your own MFA program. It consists of three parts: Write, Read and Connect, which she details quite clearly. I was so excited for this book to come out and it did not disappoint. She has an engaging style to her writing which made this book an easy read. Many writing instruction books are difficult to get through because of the pedantic style the authors employ. I read through DIY MFA in a little over a day and enjoyed it immensely. It reads as if you are having a conversation which an enthusiastic, knowledgeable friend. As soon as I finished , I started over and read it again slowly and took notes on ideas I found doable, novel, and intriguing. I ended up with many pages of notes and a refreshed and renewed desire to take charge of my writing career. I highly recommend DIY MFA to anyone who is serious about creating a sustainable writing career. Gabriela Pereira’s book DIY MFA is a one volume writer’s course. In it you will find everything you need to become a serious writer. She did not offer a book for hobbyists or dabblers, but for those who truly desire to learn, grow, and succeed as writers. In step-by-step chapters, Gabriela explains just how to set up your own MFA program. It consists of three parts: Write, Read and Connect, which she details quite clearly. I was so excited for this book to come out and it did not disappoint. She has an engaging style to her writing which made this book an easy read. Many writing instruction books are difficult to get through because of the pedantic style the authors employ. I read through DIY MFA in a little over a day and enjoyed it immensely. It reads as if you are having a conversation which an enthusiastic, knowledgeable friend. As soon as I finished , I started over and read it again slowly and took notes on ideas I found doable, novel, and intriguing. I ended up with many pages of notes and a refreshed and renewed desire to take charge of my writing career. I highly recommend DIY MFA to anyone who is serious about creating a sustainable writing career.
MandyMarie17 More than 1 year ago
(I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review). "Honor your reality." DIY MFA offers many valuable lessons for writers, but this one allows it to stand out from so many other books about writing. Like a standard MFA program, DIY MFA breaks the program down into three distinct sections: writing with focus, reading with purpose, and building a community. Right away anyone going into this should know that's a lot of work and commitment. Gabriela Pereira does not deny that, but she does something few other writers would dare do. She tells her students to honor their realities. She understands that few people can put their lives on hold to devote all their time to becoming a better writer (no matter how much we may want to). Pereira teaches her students and readers to honor their reality, to make their writing part of that reality, and to find balance between life's necessities. It's a terrific philosophy and makes her approach to a writing/reading/community practice feel so much more attainable. Pereira's strong voice leaps off every page. She combines her knowledge from the program where she earned her MFA with the experience of writing in the real world around other commitments. She stresses the hard work, but breaks it down into manageable steps. She uses examples from works that most readers would know or can have an easy time finding (Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and Pride and Prejudice). Seeing the examples beside her technique suggestions makes it so much easier for the reader to understand the exercise. There's never a point in the book where she insists her way is the only way or even the best way. Pereira wants to serve as a guide so the readers can develop their own practices. She's just offering mindful ways to help the readers become the writers they've always dreamed of being. While I prefer to read a book from cover to cover, after the first chapter, Pereira makes it easy for writers to skip around if you want help with a certain section more than others or if you're just going to use this as a reference after the initial reading. The chapters are marked, broken into sections, and there are bonus materials available on the website (there's also a class version of this book, which I can also personally attest is awesome and one of the best classes I've ever taken). There's no guarantee you're going to become a famous published author or even finish the program Pereira sets up in this book (or in the class). But that's just one more reason to read it. She's not trying to hoodwink anyone or make false promises. She wants to help her audience and students become better writers and I highly recommend anyone interested in doing that should come along on this journey with DIY MFA.
Mstermind1 More than 1 year ago
I've stalked followed Gabriela Pereira for about a year now - ever since I read her article on "Layered Revision" in Writer's Digest magazine. Until that point, I dreaded revision. I envisioned a slow, monotonous process with my harsh inner editor as the task master. The mere thought sucked joy from my life. But Gabriela's multi-step process made sense to me. And in fact, I could see where the hard (sometimes tedious) work could be fun and exciting. Gabriela motivated me to dust off the old manuscript, and I am currently half way through its first layer of revision. But I am also a life-long learner, and this concept of earning a "Masters" degree without incurring college debt intrigues me. I regularly visit her website, DIY MFA, I am a faithful listener to her weekly podcast, and I am thrilled to be a part of her Street Team for this book release. I read a lot of books on the craft of writing. In fact, I probably enjoy reading about writing as much as I enjoy the act of writing itself. Having said that, the first third of this book is a very good summary of writing basics. I'm not sure it included anything I didn't know already, but it is always good to review. I would classify this portion as earning the BA degree. The remaining two-thirds is where my advanced education began. I've already re-read the Layered Revision chapter several times, and know I will return for a refresher course several more times.  Reading with Purpose is a hallmark of the MFA. Well-written books teach us how to write well. I thoroughly enjoyed Gabriela's detailed analysis of the short story, The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin. I must confess, I have never been a fan of short stories - I much prefer the longer novel format. But Gabriela has convinced me that short stories are a great way to learn how to develop characters, structure a tight plot, and establish a consistent theme. While I know building a Writing Community is necessary to grow as an author, Gabriela taught me that not all writing groups are the same. There are times when we need a writing mentor, a writing partner, a discussion group and a critique group. All four communities are necessary - and all four serve a distinct purpose. I am fortunate to have a three out of the four in place. What I need to find for this present WIP is a discussion group... a place where fellow writers who can help me shore up potential story pitfalls. Those who can read my story not only as writers, but also as readers. Gabriela's knowledge of the writing process, and her ability to teach this process to others, makes this book a worthwhile investment to any writer's library. However, it is her constant sincere encouragement that sets this book apart from its competition. She not only made me feel like I can do this... she made me want to do it. While we do not know one another - and I doubt we will ever meet - she inspires me to do my best because I do not want to disappoint her: my beloved writing professor.  Caveat: I received a free copy of this book for review purposes, although this did not affect my review in the least.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. From the start to the end, I was entranced from page 1 through the end. In the first few chapters, I found the advice critical and portable to other parts of life. Much of the early material directly reflects how to be able to finish and consider any area of interest, that you want to be involved in seriously. As the content shifts into areas specifically on writing, I found it a continuing compelling read. The information covers craft, communications and a landscape of other considerations. Areas covered start at the basics through uses of the latest technologies in promoting your work. This book has earned a space in my read, re-read, reference shelf.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There are so many good ideas, so much good information, in DIY MFA the book, I almost don’t know where to begin. I love that Gabriela breaks the writing life into three areas: writing, reading and community. I’ve always had a hard time with editing my writing, but now I have a plan for how to edit my book. I’ll be starting that first. I’ll be reading with purpose and working on my own Literature Anthology starting with the next book I read. Community was the hardest part of this book to read. I know there’s so much that needs to be done. Gabriela gives excellent information on where to start and how. This is one “how-to” I’ll be reading again and again.
K_Renee More than 1 year ago
I’ve read a lot of writing guides in my life. What writer hasn’t read books like On Writing, Bird By Bird, Elements of Style, or any one of the many fantastic writing guides by Writer’s Digest? For me, DIY MFA: Write with Focus, Read with Purpose, Build Your Community is completely destined to become one of these staples in a writer’s education. It’s a must-read guide for anyone who’s serious about writing for the rest of their lives, and it’s going to be popping up on every listicle about books for writers that you can possibly Google in one sitting. Believe me, this is a wonderful thing for the writing community. The premise is this: a do-it-yourself alternative to a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing. Gabriela Pereira may have a Masters of Fine Arts degree herself, but she doesn’t buy into the debate that only MFAs can be serious writers. Pereira doesn’t disparage going to an MFA program, but she acknowledges that many people do not have the opportunity to get an MFA. For those people in the latter group (or even if you’re already in a program), this book one of the few craft books you’ll need on hand permanently. DIY MFA has sections for Writing with Focus, Reading with Purpose, and Building your Community. What makes DIY MFA different from many other writing guides is that it’s broad in scope, yet Pereira never just glosses over important steps. Instead, she acknowledges that there are three pieces in the writing pie that will make you a more well-rounded author. You can’t write well if you don’t read well, and you can’t get your writing out there if you aren’t good at fostering a community that readers want to be a part of. While some books focus one thing, like plot or characters, Gabriela packs it all in one purposeful punch. In the writing section, my favorite chapter was the one on Voice, in which she explains that “find your voice” is some of the most cliché advice on writing because it implies that you don’t have a voice in the first place. Pereira states that you already have a voice in everything that you write, but the key is honing it. I also loved her chapters on reading like a writer. Pereira suggests that you create a purposeful reading list to help you grow as a writer. Pleasure reading is great, but it won’t get you closer to reading the books that will let you grow as a writer. If you read titles competitive with your WIP, Classics, Research books and Contemporary novels, you can learn so much about writing. Of course, I loved Pereira’s chapters on building a community. The trendy word in the writing world right now is “writer platform,” and we need to know everything we can to make a good one as we submit our work for publication and try to navigate the writing life. DIY MFA is way more than a craft book: it’s an all-around guide to making a career as a fiction writer. While it may be hard to get through rejection, fear, and doubt, Pereira ultimately enforces her readers’ dreams and encourages them to make the writing life for themselves that they always imagined. I may have an e-book copy, but I will be getting this in print. DIY MFA is a must-have for your craft book library. ** Note: As a member of the DIY MFA Street Team, I received an e-book galley copy of DIY MFA in exchange for an honest review. This is my real opinion on the book. **
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Please note that I was given an advance reader copy in exchange for an honest review. However, I would have read this book regardless once available, because the theme intrigues me. In my dealings with other writers over the years, some have put a heavy weight toward achieving an MFA. This is an expensive, time-intensive pursuit, and certainly fits some people. I tend to focus less on paper rewards and more on practical experience, and this book nails it. It identifies and analyzes the core results of an MFA without sitting in a classroom. A refreshing alternative leveraging today's digital media tools and social networking that does not put one into years of debt, and can be achieved on one's own schedule no matter how busy that may be. Although a few sections do focus in more detail than I felt necessary, better an overly thorough job than missing important details. I suggest you add this to your writing repertoire for a robust enhancement.
JMRoche More than 1 year ago
DIY MFA is an excellent writer’s resource for your reference shelf. Gabriella guides us through the three-pronged processes it takes to be successful as a writer: Writing, Reading, and Community. The writing process is cleverly laid out with relevant examples from classic and modern literature. Gabriella has provided a map for the new and experienced writer with tons of ideas and thoughts. She makes it clear that this is your journey, and every writer does it differently. I loved that Gabriella included more than just writing craft. She truly gives us writers everything we need to be successful on our path just like any MFA program would. I think this is a must buy for every writer and I do plan on buying a hard copy as soon as it is available to purchase.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Reading this book is like having your very own writing coach cheering you on from the page. I'll be keeping the DIY MFA book on my shelf as a reference for years to come. It's an excellent manifesto for being our own writers and helping us find ourselves in the terrifying career we love so much. From page one it felt like entering into the covers of a writing world where it was safe to have all my insecurities and flaws. It includes concrete processes for harnessing those insecurities and techniques in a way that gives our writing the respect it deserves. DIY MFA is an MFA for real life writing outside the academic bubble. It's all about building the discipline to write by having the faith in yourself to know what's best for you and your writing career. There were so many things on the page that I'd found true over my own study of writing but had never seen written in a book before. It's given me so much more confidence in my skills. It's a book on how to live the life of a writer, not short term, but long term. It's all about tools for stamina and will be a great reference in times of struggle, burnout, and exhaustion. It's filled in holes in my writing knowledge I didn't know I had. I've always been a follower of DIY MFA but now I'm a devoted disciple.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've been following Gabriela since 2011 so I was obviously thrilled when she finally announced this book and even more excited when she sent out the call for reviewers and actually let me join the list. The Details The great thing about DIY MFA: Write with Focus, Read with Purpose, Build your Community is how different it is from other writing books. It does contain some writing exercises(and some really cool reading exercises) but really it's all about creating your own writing methodology. Rather than simply tell you her process and schedule, Gabriela walks you through how to create your own writing process and schedule. She reminds you again and again that your personalized MFA program should be just that--extremely personalized. As a long time fan of the DIY MFA blog and an attendee at last year's online DIY MFA conference I was already familiar with most of the DIY MFA concepts, but the book went into much greater detail and helped define the concepts more concretely in my brain. One thing I really love is the concept of iteration--creating a writing routine and tweaking it slightly every few weeks until you find something ideal--and failing better. Gabriela's discussed it on the blog plenty, but in the book she goes into great detail and discusses how you can do it for different aspects of your writing life. She also talks about how iteration(like learning) should be a lifelong process. One thing that was totally new to me was the term "Revolutionary Reading". Every book you will ever read about writing at some point reminds you that it's important to read widely, read often and read actively. Very few writing books actually go into detail about what that means but DIY MFA: Write with Focus, Read with Purpose, Build your Community has a large section(I think about 25% of the book, even) about reading. Revolutionary reading is a cooler way of describing what many writers call "active reading" or "reading like a writer": actively examining not only what a writer is saying and why, but how they are saying it. This is when you pay attention to specific techniques and turns of phrase and how they influence story development. Revolutionary reading is one of the most important things a writer can learn how to do and I can't think of a book that teaches this skill better than DIY MFA. DIY MFA: Write with Focus, Read with Purpose, Build your Community also has extremely detailed and useful information on critique groups and beta readers--what they are, how to find them and how to treat them--along with a large section on the business side of writing. Like the other sections of the book, this focuses primarily on giving you the long term strategies to figure it out for yourself rather than spoon feeding you information(much of which might not be useful by the time you're done your book anyway). Oh, and there are lots of recommendations for further reading, along with a soon-to-be-released online resource guide. The Bottom Line I really wish I could have bought DIY MFA: Write with Focus, Read with Purpose, Build your Community way back when I made my first attempts at creating a regular writing routine, or even a few years ago when my process was a lot less finessed than it is now. Still, this book deepened my understanding of many concepts I'm familiar with, introduced a few new ones and got me thinking about my own writing in a new way. I've been building my own DIY MFA for years already so I didn't create a massive ed
Laura_Highcove More than 1 year ago
You've probably heard the idiom: "Give a man a fish and you'll feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you'll feed him for a lifetime." This book embodies that quote in that the first nine pages of this book will change the way you think, not only about writing, but every facet of your life. The DIYMFA Mindset teaches you how to be a learner. The book is focused on three main areas: In Writing with Focus, unlike normal "learn to write" books, Gabriela gives multiple options on how to work your way through your writing process and develop your own method. It starts with the basics of generating ideas, creating characters, and working through story and plot as well as a method of revision that makes the whole task seem far less daunting and has saved me from insanity on more than one occasion. In the Reading with Purpose section, you learn how to "read like a writer". That is, you learn how to read books such that you notice how the author develops certain aspects so you can recreate it in your own writing. Once you know what to look for, every book you pick up can help you improve your writing. And finally, the often overlooked importance of Building your Community. This includes not only your support system of other writers, but how to develop your presence on-line in order to start building your reader base. Even though writing seems like such a solitary existence, eventually you're going to need to interact with other people in order to publish and sell your writing, and this section helps give that to you in bite-sized chunks so it is far less intimidating. There is also a thriving social media community surrounding DIYMFA, that can help you get connected with other writers, already included. My own DIYMFA started two years ago, and I have never regretted a moment of it. It has helped me improve my writing as well as preparing me for all the steps that come next. I highly recommend you pick up this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As part of the DIY MFA Street Team, I recieved an advanced review copy of DIY MFA ( Do It Yourself Master of Fine Arts) by Gabriela Pereira. I’m happy to say that I have enjoyed this creative journey with the other members of the street team. The book explains the subject well and is split into sections like building your platform, reading and writing which is further expanded into sections like point of view, dialogue, voice, plot and character for ease of reference. The USP of the book is that it focuses not only on the craft but also on building your community of readers, finding a support group of writers that keeps you accountable, ways to keep your creative well filled, with tools such as the Oracle. As Gabriela says in the book, no one method is right for any writer. She presents a various array of tools and techniques to discover and implement what works for you and also streamlines a process through which you can objectively identify the techniques that work for you. The craft of writing is explained at various levels with detailed examples with samples of short stories, dialogues in the book and additional links to resources you can find on the DIY MFA website to get the point across. The process of revising a rough draft to a polished manuscript was particularly helpful for me as its an issue I have been struggling with for some time. Gabriela knows her craft and it comes across well in the book. This book would be a gem to add to any writer’s collection of reference books. I particularly liked how she analysed the short story, ‘The Story of an Hour’ by Kate Chopin through different lenses of character, setting and narration.
drshattuck More than 1 year ago
Gabriela Pareira started the DIY MFA website because she wanted all writers to have access to the resources of an MFA program, or as she writes, “to offer an alternative for writers who do not fit the strict literary mold of the traditional MFA system.” Now we have Pareira’s system in book form, and while many writing books tackle one portion of the challenge (characters, plot, scenes), the DIY MFA Book addresses the entire process of writing, from generating ideas to maintaining social media. And although Pareira’s book leans toward fiction, the non-fiction writer will find plenty of rich resources. On every page of the DIY MFA Book, writers know that Gabriela has our back. She wants us to succeed. She wants us to find a writing practice that works. The DIY MFA Book is built to help us develop sustainable, long-term, individualized, effective writing practices. This book now claims a center spot on my bookshelf of go-to writing books. (I received an advanced reading copy for a fair and honest review. I also bought the book.)
AR_Neal More than 1 year ago
There must be something unique about a person who holds a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in writing who develops a writing program called the Do-It-Yourself MFA. Gabriela Pereira identifies herself not only as a writer and teacher, but as a word nerd whose goal is not to take over the world with prose (well, maybe a little) but to challenge the expectation that only those with a graduate degree and years of classroom-guided processes can be successful and published authors. After a number of years in development, Pereira has put her proven techniques into an easy-to-follow formula. Broken into 27 manageable chunks, she takes the reader from initial organization to publication preparation. The aforementioned conception of the MFA is described by bestselling author Jacqueline Mitchard: The importance of the MFA was just coming to the fore, and “the equivalent” in published works didn’t have quite the same impact in the academic world. I had long wanted to teach at the college level, to help others learn some of what I had learned (mostly on my own, it must be said), but then, quite suddenly, I also needed a regular, reliable job … At the time, I didn’t think there was another way … (p. 1) Mitchard continues by reminding the reader that while many published writers get there through submission of a graduate school thesis, an equal number of others do not. It is here that Pereira’s DIY MFA takes over. The first three chapters, posted under the ‘Orientation’ heading, provide the readers with a concise overview of what to expect. To be clear, the focus of the text is not on writing and technique only: it is designed to help writers establish techniques that intersect with other areas of their lives as well: it is vital to remember that a writer is also a reader and a learner. Having organization in the other aspects of life can help the writer add structure to the process. Fourteen chapters are devoted to focused writing. Readers may be surprised to note that Pereira begins with exercises related to failure in a section she titles ‘Fail Better’, where FAIL is Face Your Fears, Assemble Your Allies, Initiate and Iterate, and Let It Go. As she states in the introduction to the chapter on failure, there is a focus in society on the notion of instant success, which often undermines the writing experience. For every successful novel, there are many rejected iterations; Pereira reminds her readers that they are not failures but that something about the process failed: Remember that mistakes and failure are part of the iterative process, and while they are inevitable, you cannot take setbacks personally. When something goes wrong, don’t say, “I failed.” Say, “This failed,” and then try something else … We writers are perfectionists, and we often make our failures worse by agonizing over them. We pick apart rejection letters looking for hidden clues … Just like compounding failure with guilt, when we agonize over our mistakes, we make an already-painful experience worse … (pp. 39-40) Pereira provides ‘cheat sheets’ and examples to help writers gain understanding related to some of the more difficult aspects of writing, such as point of view (Chapter 14) and descriptions (pp. 144-145). There is so much more! Pick up a copy for yourself!
wawaph More than 1 year ago
Please note that I was given an advance reader copy in exchange for an honest review. The additional caveat is that I'm a long time visitor to the website and hence already a convert to the notion put forward in the title and book. Starting with planning, motivation, improving your craft, and working toward writer's groups, marketing and publication, this book tries to cover it all. This is ok and works well enough since it was never her goal to be a comprehensive instruction in all this writing but instead an arsenal to get you learning for yourself, looking for the answers in the greater world as you need them (necessarily since technology, communities, and industry keep changing!), and trusting yourself to work (hard!) to become the writer you know is in you. DIY MFA, the book, is halfway between typical motivational and instructional books in terms of content and style: it equips you to direct and learn for yourself how to be and improve as a writer. Gabriela's personality certainly comes out on the page (exuberant and supportive, direct and tough when she needs to be) making the book much like a long conversation with a (wise) friend. My biggest complaint is that she's a little over-fond of acronyms! This list of the main ones in use actually give a nearly perfect overview of the books extensive coverage. For finding _your_ process VITAL variables, information, trip wire, analyze, learn Self-explanatory acronyms, HABITS honour your reality, add constraints, block time/batch tasks, iterate, 10% rule, set the mood FAIL face your fears, assemble your allies, initiate and iterate, let it go IDEA inspiration, development, evaluation, action Concerning character development and bringing to life on the page, two more, WORST want, obstacles, risk, stake, transform TADA thoughts, action, dialogue, appearance A perfect, if forced, acronym for a box of inspiration, ORACLE "outrageous ridiculously awesome creative literary exercises" And finally, for your writing 'home', the axes of writing friends/mentors/supporters, CASA critique, accountability, support, advice/apprenticeship
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Boiling down the essential elements of writing that you would learn in a Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) program, this book is entertaining, easy to read and follow, and immensely informative. As an aspiring writer, this book (and accompanying website, podcast, and resources) breaks down what you need to BE a writer into three main tenants: writing with focus, reading with purpose, and building your community. It is not a definitive how-to with a single option for success, but rather describes many options and paths to find the best practice for yourself. At the same time, however, it is rigorous and deftly explains concepts of writing that are glossed over in many other writing books. The "Reading with Purpose" section was fantastic, and unique to this book. I haven't spent time studying texts since high school, so to break down how to study the craft in books that I'm reading and figure out how to incorporate those techniques into my own writing is immensely helpful. I highly recommend this book to any aspiring writers looking for some inspiration and deeper knowledge about the world of writing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An absolute must for any writer’s bookshelf! Pereira speaks with profound insight for any writer on their path to publishing – teaching him or her the writing tips, tricks, and need-to-knows about: Writing with a Focus, Reading with a Purpose, and Building Your Community. Unlike the multitude of how-to-writing books that explain what you need to know in a checklist manner, Pereira takes your hand, providing examples and personalizing her tidbits in a way that allows you to apply all her advice to your novel. The amiable, enthusiastic voice driving her narrative feels more like a conversation than any other writing book I’ve ever read. I’m not joking! There were times when I stopped just to think, “This is exactly how I feel all the time. You know ME, Pereira!” And if that’s not reason enough to buy this book (which you should do NOW, my fellow writer, because it’s awesome), you’ll love Pereira’s valuable writing exercises that hone your writing weaknesses and strengths – without taking time away from actually writing your book. I fell in love with Pereira’s presentations at a Writer’s Digest conference and found consultation about my MFA debate from her views on the diyMFA website (I opted NOT to get an MFA and felt confident in my decision after reading Pereira’s thoughts on the debate). Now, with this book and as one of the lucky first readers on the diyMFA Street Team, I can tackle my writing, reading, and building my writing community with a vision and a purpose nonexistent (and I didn’t know!) before this book reached my hands. diyMFA is a book for writers of all stages, and a friend you’ll miss without knowing it. Don’t miss out on the writing book of the year! Spend the bucks with confidence, and soak it in page by page. You’re not alone!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
DIY MFA is an essential book for writers to create successful habits and bring out their best writing. An alternative method to the traditional, costly MFA program, DIY MFA gives you the tools you need to attain those things you would find in an MFA program. The author, Gabriela Pereira, has gone through an MFA program herself and wants to provide a more realistic solution to those of us who are constantly debating whether an MFA program is right for us. Pereira’s program is built on three pillars: write with focus, read with purpose, and build your community. Each section goes into great detail with advice and exercises to apply to your writing life. I love that the sections are short and broken up into specific topics, so you can flip around to whatever topic you need to focus on at a given time. I’ve read several books on writing and yet I found plenty of new tips and tricks within DIY MFA. Pereira has original acronyms for remembering certain philosophies and creating new habits that makes it fun. Her advice is straightforward and gives you a process to follow. She also has fun and colorful worksheets for goal setting and project planning that I find incredibly helpful. DIY MFA is a must-read for writers. It’s fun, straightforward and motivating. I will be consulting this book several times throughout my writing life.
EmmaNelson11 More than 1 year ago
I’ve been a fan of the DIY MFA podcast and website for quite a while, so when I had the chance to read the book, I jumped on it. Several reviewers have created fantastic summaries of what’s included in the book, so I’ll focus on why I think it’s an essential read for all writers. At author readings, panels, and writing conferences, one question that almost always comes up is whether a writer needs a degree. Invariably, it seems like degrees are downplayed and denigrated. I realize that the point is to tell writers that anything is possible for anyone, but it’s frustrating that they don’t focus—like DIY MFA does—on the fact that though degrees/MFAs aren’t essential to becoming a writer, some level of mastery is. Or at least it should be. While there are many great writers who don’t have MFAs, there are invaluable college-level skills (not necessarily degrees) that give writers an edge in publication—learning to communicate and collaborate with others, learning to meet deadlines, learning to take feedback, honing grammar, punctuation, and style skills—all of which are part of most MFA programs. Sure, everyone knows someone who’s an exception—either having gone to college and never learned those skills or not going to college and teaching themselves—but the fact remains, for most of us, some basic college-level abilities are essential to refining our craft as authors. That’s where I think DIY MFA is GENIUS. The philosophy of Pereira is that though MFA programs aren’t essential, “all writers may need some of what the MFA experience offers.” She then breaks down the most powerful skills from her own MFA program into manageable, concise, doable chunks for the rest of us to implement—whether we have degrees or not—to make our own writing, reading, and networking more meaningful. The book has very specific guidelines, worksheets, ideas, and processes to make effective writing a WAY OF LIFE. An instinctive habit. She helps outline how to develop behaviors that gradually increase our abilities as both readers and writers. Pereira says right from the beginning that all things don’t work for all writers, but she provides dozens of methods for writers to try on their own, and she helps us understand the psychology behind different methods and personal roadblocks. She talks about how if we want to be writers, we “need to discover a process so that [we] can create dozens or even hundreds of wonderful books,” instead of just one. She talks about creativity as a learnable process with logical, repeatable steps, instead of a crazy muse that comes and goes as it pleases. One of quotes I love from DIY MFA sums up the book and the program. She says, “…talent is often irrelevant, and what matters is how serious you are about doing the work.” I think that’s true of DIY MFA, of MFA/other degree programs, and any other writing course you can find. DIY MFA helps you know how to do the work to be the kind of author you want to be. It’s another tool—a brilliant one—to help you get where you want to be as a writer. Whether you have a traditional MFA or not, I think this is one book all writers should have on their shelf.
marylangerthompson More than 1 year ago
Gabriela Pereira received her MFA the traditional way, yet knows that many serious writers cannot afford the time or money or have other reasons not to go that route, so wrote this wonderful book that will give “the knowledge without the college.” Writers will be hooked at the foreword by best-selling author Jacquelyn Mitchard who says, “the dance isn’t complete until the reader takes my hand.” Readers can take the hand of Pereira as she covers three components of the writer’s life: writing, reading, and community. There are downloadable worksheets, beginning with a “Goal Sheet,” and acronyms that will help the reader remember (FAIL, IDEA, WORST). There is an entire chapter on handling failure and rejection, how to write scenes, and how to bring your characters to life. She teaches how to read with a purpose and like a “revolutionary,” and to be your own best reader before joining a critique group. I will share the difference between critique and discussion with my own group. This book is truly an entire course on writing, and one I will keep on my shelf and refer to again and again. Save your tuition. Pereira will help you make publication possible. I propose her next book be DIY DFA (Doctor of Fine Arts).
Leanne Sowul More than 1 year ago
I have been a big fan of DIY MFA since I first heard Gabriela Pereira speak at the Writer's Digest conference in August 2014. As an educator, I responded to her strong ability to command her classroom's attention; deliver a clear and detailed lesson, chock-full of advice and information; and show confidence in her audience's ability to absorb and understand the material. Since that conference, I have become a columnist for the DIY MFA website and a proud member of Gabriela's team. I'm also a member of the Street Team for the book, and received an ARC to review. As previous reviewers have mentioned, this book is divided into the three main pillars of DIY MFA: Writing, Reading and Community. All three sections could easily stand alone as their own manuals for writing craft, purposeful reading, and building a writing tribe. The fact that they exist under one cover makes this book a must-have for any writer, no matter where she is on her writing journey. What I've always loved best about DIY MFA, though, is Gabriela's strong voice. Reading her writing, from this book to the website and her "Word Nerd" email list, is like talking to a friend who's not afraid to tell you what she thinks, but also respects your individuality. She knows what works for herself, but also goes out of her way to find methods that work for others, and suggests them all as answers to your writing questions. This book reveals that Gabriela's own path to writing success comes from much trial-and-error, failures that turned into learning opportunities, and "iterations" (a favorite word of hers) to improve her habits. The authenticity of that path gives Gabriela credibility as both a writer and an educator. I admire her because she does what I personally try (and sometimes fail) to do: pursue continuous growth and learning about myself and my chosen career path. If Gabriela were to write this book again in ten years, I bet it could be twice as long, given that she continues to learn and share what she's learned about the world of writing. If you only read one book about writing this year, make it this one!
MichelleDong More than 1 year ago
A fantastic resource. Light and breezy to read, but the pages are loaded with goods. Lots of practical tips for people who are serious about writing, and writing better. I get stuck and frustrated a lot in my writing process, and I'm always wondering if I'm doing it wrong. This book was terrific in helping me figure out my best writing routine. From brainstorming, to prepping for writer's conferences, to plot structure, (which is similar to Robert McKee's Story, another book that was instrumental in helping me shape my plot) are all neatly organized in DIYMFA. This is such an in-depth, comprehensive manual, packed with insights. I so wish I had come across this book five years ago, when I first began writing seriously. Even now, after I've read lots of books on writing, I still learned a ton of new tips from DIYMFA. Overall, this is an all-in-one book. It infuses the essence of all the important books on writing, and encompasses every major roadblock you'll encounter as a writer, followed by creative ways to overcome them. Five stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
(reader's note: I received a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review) This book captures the heart of the DIY MFA mission and delivers it in a brilliant package. The amount of solid writing advice and actionable information in this book is almost overwhelming! Gabriela crams all her most powerful creative advice between the covers here and delivers a solid, continually reference-able resource to help you up your writing game, no matter what your goals are. I am a firm believer and stalwart follower of the DIY MFA philosophy. I love the empowerment and encouragement that the DIY MFA community offers. If you aren't familiar with DIY MFA yet, you NEED to buy this book. It truly is the most perfect and succinct introduction to the life-changing and writing-life-transformational experience you never knew you needed.