To be honest, I have some suspicions about MFAs. It's not that I don't think the experience is valuable or a way to better learn the craft of writing. However, for a period of time beginning in the late 1990s, it seemed the world of shot story was owned by the products of MFA programs. The writing reflected a sort of MFA-esque aesthetic where each sentence was well crafted, etc., but the totality of it was wanting for lack of story. In some cases the story failed to connect or was completely irrelevant to the experience of a reader or was just simply boring.
What an MFA program doesn't seem to be able to inculcate in its classrooms is life experience and the ability to tell a really good story.
However, this issue is not confined to MFA programs. All writers must wrestle with the issue of telling compelling, beautiful, and relevant stories. We all, all of us writers, need to always live within our own home-MFA program where we learn from other writers, are open to the stories that present themselves in our lives, and reach out beyond ourselves.
Now for something practical. Read good writers. Duh, you may say, but I seem to forget how important this is from time to time. Right now I'm reading Anthony Doerr's All The Light We Cannot See and love it. Excellent, spare writing and a very good story.
And I'm not the only one who recognizes this. I found the following quote in The Sun:
There has always been a sliver of panic in him, deeply buried, when it comes to his daughter: a fear that he is no good as a father, that he is doing everything wrong... There is pride, too,... that his daughter is so curious, so resilient. There is the humility of being a father to someone so powerful, as if he were only a narrow conduit for another, greater thing. That's how it feels right now... as though his love for his daughter will outstrip the limits of his body. The walls could fall away, even the whole city, and the brightness of that feeling would not wane.
By the way, Doerr has an MFA, but he also has a very strong sense of story and how to connect that with the reader's sense of emotion and empathy.