Time is precious.

Time is Precious For all budding fiction writers, I am going to offer some controversial advice: Don’t go to school. I consider wasting four years on a university degree the biggest mistake of my career. Many of us feel that we cannot write unless qualified, but studying English or even Creative Writing does not prepare you for writing. Nothing can prepare you for writing except for writing; you must read endless amounts of work in your genre and write twice as much as that.

Now, if your passion is to read and write academic articles, then by all means you should immerse yourself in academia. But if you intend to write fiction for a popular, general audience, then university can hurt your style more than it helps. Prose that will sound normal to you may sound pretentious or confusing to your readers. You won’t learn about basic grammar rules and editing in post-secondary education—you’ll get penalized for your mistakes, but you’ll be expected to enter the environment already having the skills necessary to write professionally. It is also difficult to make the transition from academic writing back to popular fiction writing.

If you can afford the cost of school and possess great reserves of patience, then by all means you should consider getting as many degrees as you wish. But if you don’t have any parental support, you might want to give yourself a reality check. University is a full-time venture if you do it properly, and you will almost certainly leave school with massive amounts of debt. Can you afford to begin writing immediately upon graduation, or will you need to work in a cubicle for a few years to pay off your loans and establish some assets to feel comfortable enough to dedicate yourself to writing? How many years will it be until you are able to write full-time? For how long will you be able to write full time before you run out of money? Will you have enough funds to invest in marketing your books?

Personally, I have been published and writing full-time for over seven months, and it is only just beginning to pay me a decent salary. Unlike normal jobs, you may receive payment monthly or even quarterly. This can make it very challenging to pay your bills. You must expect that writing won’t be the type of career in which you can instantly be successful. It will be challenging to finish writing a book at all if you have other responsibilities; if you write part time, it could take years instead of months. For this reason, you need to budget your time extremely wisely. You need to do something today, and every day, which will benefit your career tomorrow.

If writing is in your blood, and if there is no other career option for you, then you must begin immediately in whatever small capacity your life permits. If you are a driven and self-motivated person, you can teach yourself everything you need to know and be successful in this field. There is pride in having multiple degrees, but is it worth potentially setting your goals back by decades? I went to school so that my parents would be proud of me and so that I wouldn’t feel inferior to my friends. If I had been honest with myself about what I wanted, I would have worked for a modest salary while writing. I would be much further along in my career than only seven months, and I would have much less debt with which to contend.

I encourage you to be honest with yourself about your goals. Time is precious.

Guest post by Nadia Scrieva. Nadia Scrieva was born in 1988 in Toronto, Canada. She studied English and Anthropology, graduating with an Honors B.A. from the University of Toronto in 2011. She likes knives. Writing has been the most meaningful part of her life since she was a child. Nadia loves receiving feedback from readers, so do not hesitate to contact her with any of your comments, questions, ideas, or just to say hello. 

Nadia will giving away an eBook copy of Drowning Mermaids to one randomly drawn commenter at every stop. So I encourage you to follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: http://goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2012/05/virtual-book-tour-sacred-breath-series.html


  1. Great post Nadia.

    I agree that reading a lot is a great way to learn about writing in your chosen genre.

    I'm sure some creative writing courses can help but I prefer teaching myself when it comes to writing.


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