Not necessarily, however I don’t think I would be a writer without it.
I was a late bloomer into the world of writing, although it had always been there in some form I suppose, like when I wrote my mum a story about a girl who could talk to starfish when I was 8 – which I should totally try and find by the way, I did drawings and everything.
I finished school and went to college, then I (not very successfully) pursued A-levels and kind of fell out of love with everything. Drama and theatre were my things, and even they didn’t hold a spark. My mum wanted me to go to university although I wasn’t convinced. I went. I dropped out. Then I went again to a different university and started to enjoy drama again, but it was only in the last project of my final year that I realised I could write. And it blew all of my other grades out of the water. This came as a surprise to me as I just thought something would happen and I would form a theatre company or….”I dunno, it’ll happen”.
I hadn’t considered it as a career path before and didn’t really know how to get into it. I forgot about writing until I saw the last call outs for Masters scholarships at my university. I had planned just to live in the city for another year and see what happened. I applied for a scholarship on a whim, after saying I was completely done with education and I wouldn’t do it unless I managed to get funded to do it.
A week later I opened and email that informed me I had been successful in my application, and I was enrolled on the Scriptwriting Masters and that the university were going to cover all of my costs. I was dumbfounded.
Doing a Masters was the most stressful and challenging year of my life, and I absolutely loved every second. I immersed myself in writing and reading and learning and I feel that I changed so much as a person, but the main benefit of doing my Masters is that it gave me direction.
I don’t think I would have realistically known what steps to take, how to format to industry standard and how to approach industry professionals (don’t even get me started on story structure!). But that is my experience, so naturally I am going to be biased towards the way that I fell into writing.
I think it took this level of immersion for me to fully engage in writing, it forced me to research it and really pay attention. For other people that drive and determination might already be lit inside them, they may know someone who is an established writer or they might go to workshops or evening classes. OR they might just write because they love to and they are figuring it out as they go along.
If you’re struggling with the direction you should take or you feel like you would benefit from some mentoring, then considering a course could be an option. But like with everything in life, there is no one way to be a writer, it is your own personal journey and thats the fun of it.