The open book: what writers don’t tell writers about writing (part 4)

Caren Gussoff Sumption
7 min readJan 28, 2021
Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Writing programs. MFAs*. Workshops. Classes. Paid mentoring. If you want to write, or already, hopefully do, there are a million ways to spend your time and money on instruction.

But should you do it?

A binary answer is…imprecise. I say: yes, but. I also say: no, and.

You’ll see what I mean, I hope, by the end.

Here’s my background: I took quite a few writing classes as an undergrad, then went, directly, into an MFA program for creative writing (at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago). After that, I took — and taught (at the college and community level) — the occasional class, here and there, and then, a decade after getting my MFA, I attended Clarion West. Since then, I’ve (taught more classes and) taken a few more workshops and classes — these at the “professional” writer level* — and went to specialized programs like the Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop. So. My background is less in- depth than it is breadth (I could say that about so many things in my life, oy), but I’ve gotten a wide view of what’s out there, and experience of what each has done (or not) for me, in my career. More pointedly, I’ve met an army of other writers who’ve attended other programs and workshops, and, well, we’ve compared notes, and, from that, some truisms emerge.