Looking for application management software? Learn about Submittable for organizations. Learn about Submittable for organizations.

A Writer’s Guide to Filthy Lucre: Part 1


Writing and MoneyEach spring, creative writing programs release thousands of new MFA graduates into the workforce. Armed with thesis manuscripts of poetry and short stories and impressive writing skills, these graduates are prepared, for the most part, for the exact jobs they had before they attended graduate school.
We think this is a problem.
One could argue that no one expects improved job prospects from earning an MFA degree, that attending a writing program is about something else entirely, making time to write or finding a community of like-minded of peers. All of which is great until you want to buy a house, or even simply have a steady income, a retirement plan, or a professional career.
Submittable’s founders and our first few employees are writers and artists. And even as we’ve grown, we’ve often gone out of our way to hire creatives, because we believe that creative people and artists not only think deeply about what they do, but they understand our product and our clients. We’ve been thinking about this problem. We would argue that many of today’s MFA programs give a writer a degree, but no way forward to stability and success.
In the business world, where tremendous opportunities currently reside in swift, capable communication and storytelling, the MFA skill set is more valuable than ever. Creatives have so much to offer, but don’t know how to utilize their skills. In many cases, they don’t even know how to get started. We have both an oversupply of this skill set and no real sense of how to leverage it outside of teaching and to a lesser extent publishing.
We should come up with a way for poets, fiction writers and essayists to take their valuable, sought-after skills and use them, if they so choose, to make some dough in addition to making their art. In this digital age, every business and every brand needs someone to communicate quickly and clearly on its behalf–Submittable certainly does. And many people who majored in something other than writing find writing to be a supremely daunting, unpleasant and time-consuming task. In fact, they hate it. We think there’s opportunity here that doesn’t look like a content farm. So, who’s responsible for solving this issue? Should MFA programs do more to prepare their students for the real world job market, beyond becoming a the rare novelist who can live off of their work? Or should companies do more to train MFA grads to be successful in the office?
What did you do with your writing talents when you finished your MFA? How can we connect MFA graduates with the enormous demand for their skills?
This is the first post in a series about writers and business.

Catherine Jones