It’s 10 on a Friday night and I’m sat at home with a celebratory cup of tea and some Sainsbury’s own Gruyère to snack on. Today I’ve handed in my last assignment for the semester and it feels unreal (well, there is another deadline in May, but May is very far away, and I’m already a thousand words in, so we’ll ignore that for now). I’ve reached the finish line of the second year of my Creative Writing degree, and I figured this was as good a time as any to ponder upon what five things I enjoy the most about this course.
(Of course, this list only showcases my five favourites, other students may disagree completely.)
1. It’s interesting!
If you’ve applied for a degree in Creative Writing, hopefully, you like to write. This means that you’re studying one of the things you enjoy the most, constantly improving and developing your skills at something you are interested in. You read literature and explore how to apply what you read to your own writing, creating something new out of something already existing. No lecture is the same, which means that every day is different, and every writing exercise or assignment will find new ways to challenge you.
2. Great reading lists!
With modules like Children’s Fiction, Horror, Fairy Tale fictions and Short Stories, it’s safe to say that you will have to do a lot of reading over the course of an academic year. Of course, some textbooks are more informative than funny, but who would say no to reading lists consisting of authors like Angela Carter, Stephen King, Arthur Conan Doyle and Roald Dahl, to mention a few? If you’re a writer, then you most likely also enjoy reading, and the module reading lists are always great introductions to new and interesting books.
Nothing is better than sitting down with a Malorie Blackman novel and a cup of tea, and being able to say that you’re doing coursework.
One of the most important things I’ve learnt on this course is how to both give and receive feedback. At the beginning of first year, nothing scared me as much as letting someone else read and comment on my roughly typed up first drafts and it almost made me cry to see people actually write notes and point out all of my mistakes. Now I can’t bring myself to hand in anything if I haven’t workshopped it, and the more comments, the better.
While writing, you become so blind to your own mistakes and having someone else look at your work is important, as they will be able to see all the typos, grammar mistakes and wrongly placed commas that you’ve missed. Also, workshopping other students’ work helps your own writing too, as it develops your editing skills. As long as you make sure that all your criticism is constructive, there is nothing better than getting a sheet back with lots of scribbles after a workshop session.
4. No exams, only assignments
There are no exams if you’re doing a Creative Writing single honours, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to do any work. Every module has two main assignments, normally a creative piece and something either critical or self-reflective, and as someone who enjoys some serious library time, this is perfect for me. If you get started on these assignments early so you don’t have to churn out two thousand words of something creative the night before the deadline, it is possible to really enjoy working on your pieces, creating your worlds and developing your stories as the semester goes along.
5. People are so talented!
This is a fantastic course to attend, because there are so many talented people. Workshopping, brainstorming and generally working with other students is fun, because everyone brings different writing styles, techniques, ideas and impulses to the table. Reading everyone’s work is kind of like getting teasers of all these fantastic books that may one day be published, and its great being allowed a sneak peak of the first drafts. I can’t count how many times I’ve read someone’s work and thought “I just really want to read the rest of this”, or had to stop and write lots of hearts because someone’s line just floored me.
So, there are many reasons to study Creative Writing, but these are some of my favourites. Being able to spend your days working with other people and writing creative pieces as assignments are just some of them. This course challenges you to think outside of the box, to try out things you haven’t tried before and it helps you discover new and inventive ways to be creative, to get ideas and find inspiration. There will be many late nights poring over old books in the library, but hard work isn’t so bad when you find it interesting, and focusing on your studies isn’t difficult at all if it’s something you really enjoy doing.