The DIY MFA: Paving Your Own Way

Word nerd, Gabriela Pereira, has launched a street team to promote her upcoming DIY MFA book and I’m pretty thrilled to be a part of the crew. In addition to getting an early version of the book to review, she’ll be giving fun writing prompts each week for me to scramble up and dish back to you. This week, Gabriela’s prompt is based on her latest podcast, The Great MFA Debate. Listen to the podcast to digest all the pros and cons.

Me? I’m all over the con side of this debate. Adding to my students loans? No—I rather swallow razor blades. Take all my free time? No—try it and I’ll open you up like a juice box. Try to fit in with a bunch of poets while I dream up some Ewoks of Endor-inspired fantasy novel? Actually, that may be entertaining.

“In a time of drastic change, the learners inherit the future.” –Eric Hoffer

This quote that was mentioned in the podcast hit me right between my desperately-needing-plucked-eyebrows. I’m a believer in the ability to pave your own way by being an active learner. Sitting in a classroom turns me into a mindless doodler checking the clock every 4 minutes. This is one reason that I’m so happy I discovered DIY MFA. It is the perfect way to gather the skills you need to get to the future you want without all the negative side effects.

Paving My Way

I’ve always wanted to be a writer…I just didn’t realize it until I was well into my twenties. My degree and career path didn’t exactly line up with being a paid writer. So, when social media marketing exploded on the scene and really became a requirement for large brands, I saw it as my opportunity to write full-time. Unfortunately, I had very little social media success, I wasn’t a journalism major, and copywriting wasn’t really anywhere in my resume. I was a community service and human development major who made a career in nonprofit. I loved it, but I wanted to flex that creative muscle every day (and get paid for it!).

unnamedI won’t bore you with all the details, but in a nutshell, I signed up for every free webinar and conference on social media and writing that I could find. I also took a freelance writing gig with a sports network that paid peanuts, but gave me the experience I needed. I went from being a Contributor to a Staff Editor and social media lead. For over two years, I juggled my full-time job, my freelance work, and constant workshops and classes, which left me very little time to actually write. I didn’t care. I knew I had to put the work into paving that path.

The hard work and experience paid off and I landed a Community Management job at Ignite Social Media. I was writing content every day and helping to create digital marketing campaigns. It was awesome. But reaching one success doesn’t mean the end of the road; it means it is time to add a new road to your map. Mine eventually took me back to nonprofit as a Social Media Manager. The two roads came together in that most amazing way.

Now…onto paving the road to becoming a published author! Where’s your road taking you?


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Gabriela Pereira says:

    Hey hey! Loving your blog and so thrilled to have you on the Street Team! Also, random question: you mention a degree in Human Development, do you mean as in child psychology or developmental psychology? I ask because I got my first Master’s in Human Development and actually worked in the toy biz for a while before shifting gears to DIY MFA. Anyway, super curious to know if you’re a fellow dev. psych. person. Keep being awesome!


    1. kpkelly says:

      So happy to be on the team and thank you for the kind words! So, I was part of the first graduating class at Bowling Green State University (OH) for the Community Services & Human Development degree. The curriculum covered everything from early adolescent to gerontology. It was created for those who mostly wanted to work in nonprofit. I will tell you, it was a frustrating degree to find work in as people (for some reason) always assumed it meant I studied to be a Home Economics teacher. (??) SO weird, but I got that feedback all the time. It wasn’t until I landed a job at the Muscular Dystrophy Association that I found my way. Toy biz? That sounds fun! Although, I’m happy you found your way to DIY MFA. It’s given me tons of ideas and tips. Looking forward to the next writing prompt and the book!


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