Book Review: DIY MFA

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Title: DIY MFA: Write with Focus, Read with Purpose, Build Your Community

Author: Gabriela Periera

Genre: Writing guide, prescriptive nonfiction

Published by: Writer’s Digest Books

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary (from the DIY MFA website):

Inspired by material from the DIY MFA flagship 101 course, this is more than a writing guide in book form. Based on proven techniques and graduate-style curriculum, DIY MFA won’t just help you improve your writing skills, it will empower you to take control of your creative life.

If DIY MFA were a school, this book would be the student handbook. It’s a one-stop-shop with all the fundamental elements from the website in one place. If you are new to DIY MFA, this book is the perfect springboard to get you going, and if you’ve taken our flagship course, this book will supplement and expand on what you learned.

DIY MFA will help you get that graduate-level experience without going to school. Rather than putting your life on hold for two or three years and accruing a huge amount of student debt, you can learn to recreate that MFA experience for yourself and seamlessly incorporate writing into your life. This book will show you how.

I heard about the book through this fabulous post on Sara’s blog. I’m the sort of writer who shies away from reading how-to books on writing. It’s probably because I prefer reading fiction, not to mention that the nonfiction books are comparatively highly priced in my country and are hardly available. I try to avoid reading e-books since they give me a headache after a few hours, but the sweet deal on the Amazon Kindle edition convinced me otherwise. I ventured out into the unknown with this one, but it totally paid off!

I loved the Periera style of “teaching” from the first chapter. She doesn’t give specific advice such as keeping a 1000 word count goal a day, but offers general guidelines for the aspiring writer to follow and adapt to their own personal writing style. I’m a firm believer of ‘what works for one person may not work for the other’ and this book embraces this philosophy wholeheartedly. I love how she starts off by debunking myths. It makes the journey to becoming a successful writer less daunting by telling the reader that the literary world is not only for those few chosen ones. The use of clever mnemonics to help remember the concepts she introduces is wonderful too. I also liked how she often cites examples to emphasise her points, both from her experience as well as popular books. It really helps as the reader can easily identify with the theme being presented.

The real reason I absolutely adored the book is because it made me want to write as soon as I turned the last page. I’ve been posting consistently in September although I had tests last week, where normally I would have taken a break. But the book changed something (probably) deep inside my writer self and the excuses that my lazy self whispered didn’t seem good enough anymore. It gave me the push to get serious about my writing and so far, I’ve kept it up. Also, I’ve tried a few of the exercises in this book and they do help quite a bit. I have thus far been a “pantster” when it comes to my writing and I’ve been trying to hammer out a few details before I start off a new writing project. This book definitely enabled me to strike a balance between the planning and “pantsing” halves. The first two parts of the book on writing and reading are most relevant to me right now, but the book has plenty on what comes after the finishing up a manuscript as well. Although I just glanced through the section without being too attentive, I’m sure it has a lot of practical value for those in the final stages of their WIP.

To sum up, if you’re a writer, I’d definitely recommend this book to you. It delivers on all its promises, plus you get access to free additional resources on the website after purchasing the book. I really look forward to going through the recommended reading list and putting those on my TBR list as well.

About the Author



Gabriela Pereira is a writer, teacher, and self-proclaimed word nerd who wants to challenge the status quo of higher education. As the founder and instigator of, her mission is to empower writers to take an entrepreneurial approach to their education and professional growth. Gabriela earned her MFA in creative writing from The New School and teaches at national conferences, local workshops, and online. She is also the host of DIY MFA Radio, a popular podcast where she interviews bestselling authors and offers short audio master classes. Gabriela lives in NYC with Lawyer-Hubby, Little Man, Lady Bug, and Office Cat.

For more information check out her LinkedIn profile.

Email: gabriela [at] DIYMFA [dot] com
Twitter: @DIYMFA

Thoughts? Let me know in the comments section. To see what’s on my TBR list, check me out on Goodreads.

7 thoughts on “Book Review: DIY MFA

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