IMHO, the craft of writing takes time to develop. There are too many books to pore or glean over regarding craft of fiction. Trust me, I’ve gone through various books about style, setting, dialogue, POVs and such. There is really no writing bible one can learn and then publish something extraordinary, yet. There is practice, revision after revision, and a lil bit o’ luck to go along with it.
My current stint at the SFSU Department of English’s Creative writing program can be summed into one word – Craft. The practice of craft is essential to be able to come up with something extraordinary. One or two illustrious professor(s) would tell you that in order to learn craft, you have to show the tell. As they put it, it’s almost similar to writing a college paper, there’s a thesis statement and the facts to support the argument. Though this time around, we start with the tell and follow up with the shows. It could be in a form of a dialogue, a scene, a character’s inner monologue or a setting, etc, etc. So in order to be a better writer, practice doesn’t necessarily make things perfect. However the skills one learns while practicing telling and showing will pay off in the long run.
It may seem easy but in reality, it is not. For free writers like me, I had to change the way I write. Those flowing thoughts that I wrote in paper may not exactly what I intuit. I had to revise what I free-wrote before. Being obsessive about crafting things perfect, I was told to slow down and let the editors do their work. Let it go. Now I have to know who my characters are, show what they look like, how they act and think, show what the main conflict is above the minor ones, and how to craft the apt epiphany. It made me realize that it takes a while to plan and map out what my intent is before putting pen on paper, be it prose or poetry. One is to persevere in order to hone their skills. One is a writer for the love of it. Not because it will pay the bills nor one will become a household name. The goal is to love what you do.
I haven’t heard what it is like with other writing programs. I can only talk about my own experiences as a student working my ass off to write my stories and to find the audience it deserves. As a student, learning is what you want it to be – Seek and you shall find. I learned to go above and beyond when learning what my craft is and how I can hone it into something I’d be accustomed to in the future. It may not show now but it will. I have confidence I can do it. Just wait for it. Luck is here to hope that the story or poem you wrote will find the audience you are looking for.