I’m certain to some it means receiving an MFA degree. It is a way to quantify accomplishment, a physical reminder that person X actually put in the time and training to BE a writer.
Working at a literary magazine as an underling is also an acceptable form of apprenticeship. Running one’s butt off while reporting to those who know a hell of a lot more certainly “counts”.
If you don’t do either?
You become suspect. You can’t just START writing, gods no! You have to work hard and long years. You have to sweat and bleed. Oh, you did that? Do you have any proof?
For the snobs of the Literary World, it isn’t enough to write every day. You have to do MORE than just read voraciously and take classes online without college credit.
I think the idea of apprenticing to the craft, devoting to it, is solid and has a purpose. Be focused, put in the time and energy. Take classes, read books, find a mentor, whatever. Just learn and do and strive.
But, while you devote to the craft, don’t be afraid to blow off someone’s idea of HOW to do it. Don’t feel like the only way to get noticed is to get an MFA (though, as a poet, I feel that way sometimes). Forgive yourself if you haven’t read the GREATS of literature. Don’t break yourself in half trying to find a mentor, unless you want one.
That’s all. It’s simple.
Oh, and one more thing, LOVE it. LOVE words and writing and creating and connecting. Find joy in it. If you work and toil without being happy, it’s miserable. Don’t do it. Don’t. If writing doesn’t make you happy, stop. The creating part of the process should ALWAYS bring you joy, even when the rejections or edits, suck.
Have you ever been told you need to put in the time as an “apprentice of the craft”? How have you dedicated yourself as a writer?