There’s no set path for becoming a writer. Some might tell you to get inspiration from nature’s beauty; to go watch a sunrise at Bethany Beach or go for a hike in Alapocas Woods Park.
Others might advise you to take a laptop and do some writing at a coffee shop in Wilmington or Dover. Maybe people watching at a city park with a pen and legal pad could stir your creative juices?
Newark’s Cristina Henríquez, whose work is recommended by outlets like the New York Times, Washington Post, and NPR, knew she wanted to be a writer from a young age. Back then she got her inspiration for poetry from watching animals and astronauts.
In high school she started journaling about love and that opened the door for her growing interest in writing and writers, such as Dylan Thomas, Dora Carrington, and James Joyce. As an undergraduate she majored in English. But she still wouldn’t call herself an author until after she published her first novel, and she credits her graduate education for enabling her to do that successfully.
Before she started her MFA program Henríquez had heard the nay saying that writing is an art and can’t be taught. But speaking about her graduate school she says:
And the rest is history. After graduating Henríquez wrote her first acclaimed novel and hasn’t looked back since.
Her story could be yours. Henríquez took her writing craft seriously, seizing upon opportunities that prepared her future for success. You have the option to take similar active steps and lay a strong foundation on which to improve as a writer.
The Modern Literarti of Delaware
The list of successful writers coming out of Delaware grows by the year.
Recent additions include author Cristina Henríquez whose novel about the experience of new Panamanian immigrants in America, The Book of Unknown Americans, was named Novel of the Year by Buzzfeed.
Henríquez launched her successful writing career after graduating from an MFA program, which she credits with greatly improving her craft. Even to this day she says she goes back to consult her college notes on subjects like subordinate clauses, dialogue, and structure.
You might recognize Murphy Guyer, born in Delaware on Christmas, from his acting roles in films like The Jackal and Joker, or from his television roles on Law and Order and House of Cards. What you may not know about him is that he’s an accomplished playwright, having written over ten works including Eden Court, his first, and World of Mirth.
Before launching his career he was a student at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in NYC where he discovered a talent for writing. Fresh out of school, Guyer struck early success with Eden Court, which was produced on Broadway and has since been made into a film by the same name.
Wilmington-native Neil Casey is a person of many talents. You probably know him best for his roles in the 2016 reboot Ghostbusters or the Netflix series Big Mouth. What you may not know is that he got his start as a comedy writer. He’s written extensively for Saturday Night Live and Inside Amy Schumer, and scripted events like the MTV Movie Awards.
It all started at the University of Delaware. Casey had a scholarship for computer engineering, but he felt pulled in a more creative direction and changed his major to English and drama. Soon after he began studying comedy, a field around which he would increasingly shape his life. After he earned his degree he moved to New York for its comedy scene, and eventually caught his big break being hired as one of 15 writers for SNL.
The journey to becoming a writer can seem daunting when you’re just starting out, but it needn’t be.
True, you do need to put in the hard work, but it’s also a lot of fun to participate in writing groups and be among college students who all share the same goal and respect for their craft.
It’s possible to be a writer from Delaware: others have done it before you. You just need to build up the confidence to start.
Delaware’s Creative Writing Classes, Courses, and Workshops Can Prepare You for a Creative Writing Degree
Writers get better through practice and experience. Luckily Delaware has no shortage of fun and constructive ways you can engage with the craft of writing.
The Delaware Literary Connection uses a range of strategies to keep its members enticed and motivated to improve themselves as writers. Newsletters, writing workshops, author readings, literary conferences, and contests are all part of the program with this Wilmington-based organization. Upcoming events include Channeling Poe and Cooling it with Kerouac.
Also in Wilmington, the Delaware Writers Studio hosts writing and critique workshops once a month at the local library. These are events offered by local writers for the benefit of other local writers, whose content covers both the artistic and business side of writing.
Members of the Rehoboth Beach Writers Guild take writing classes, go to writing conferences, scout book festivals, and participate in public readings. With the goal of promoting the literary creative arts throughout the southern coastal region of the state, this organization’s upcoming events include a poetry challenge, a writing challenge, and a lecture on how to overcome the fear of writing a memoir.
Cat and Mouse Press puts out a weekly online newspaper geared towards Delaware and Maryland-based writers called Writing is a Shore Thing. It features pro tips, writing advice, resources, and relevant upcoming events.
Literary journals are a great medium to start getting your work published and more widely known. The Delmarva Review specializes in poetry and prose and comes out with a new volume annually that’s made up of the best selections out of thousands of submissions.
Broken Turtle Books based in Newark publishes a book list that its writers, editors, and publishers hope will fix our broken world. The list features diverse and cutting-edge fiction and poetry by Delaware authors.
Cedar Tree Books is a publisher based in Wilmington that specializes in works produced by Delaware historians but is also known to publish children’s books and other genres. Its catalog goes out to libraries, bookstores, and distributors.
Writing Colleges in Delaware Offering Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Creative Writing Provide a Path to Becoming a Writer
A BA or Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degrees can help you to lay a strong scaffold on which to develop your writing career. An MA or Master of Fine Arts (MFA) can help your writing mature to a level that’s ready for publication.
Creative writing professors know the art and business of the trade and are eager to pass on their knowledge to the next generation of literary influencers, if you’re ready to answer their challenge.