Doing a Creative Writing Degree.

‘Ello ‘ello! Today in things I didn’t really ever think I’d do a blog post about: the ins and outs of doing a degree in creative writing, what it ‘gives’ you and why I love it so very much.

I guess that the fact I never thought I’d blog about this is telling, in that it’s ‘just my life’.

So often you forget that ‘just your life’ can be utterly thrilling to other people, as it isn’t theirs. There are probably refugee smugglers and madams and artists all over the world who think of what they do with their days as absolutely mundane, as steeped in boringness, when to you or I the details of these days would be captivating as can be.

To be fair, when I started my degree it had me abuzz, and these days even with the routine and rhythm of it all I’m enchanted by what I do.

Application.

Getting into my degree- which, for the record, is a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Creative Writing) at Flinders Uni- was more than just a ‘xx.xx ATAR, congratulations you’re in enjoy the student life’, it was an ATAR combined with a creative portfolio. From memory, the creative portfolio included about a dozen pages of recent written prose, and a whole lot of form-filling including a cover letter and some decent references.

The time I spent waiting to see if I’d made it was a nervous one for sure, but it made the exhilaration of acceptance so much sweeter. It was a brilliant start knowing that I’d been accepted on the merit of talent and passion, not just because I’d paid enough attention in year eleven maths or chosen my subjects wisely in my senior year of high school (spoiler, neither are true).

The Course Itself.

At its core, this is a University course like any other in the sense that it’s a whole lot of theory work, with a bit of practical scattered throughout. The way that I think it differs from other creative and non creative courses is that every single bit of work you do seems to be leading somewhere.

I don’t say that with an ounce of insincerity- and trust, I’ve started two other courses before this so I have half a toe dipped in the pool of knowledge here. Not everything we do is thrilling (hello Shakespeare, who I #unpopularopinion really don’t vibe with) but everything has it’s place, which makes turning up and giving a heck a lot, lot easier.

All of our tutors and lecturers have had experience in the field, which is invaluable. Talking to someone about publishing options when they have, actually, been published makes a lot more sense than throwing ideas around with other people who also know how to use Google. Even the fresh-faced young teachers are either undertaking or have just completed their PHD, which comes in handy when you’re tossing up aiming to do yours for the eighteenth time.

The topics which seem a little off the mark from where you want to land have their merits, too- ScreenWriting 101 taught me I wouldn’t like to write sitcoms anytime in this life, Professional Writing gave me some grammar basic I’d never quite got a grip on, CREA1101 taught me to animate and use photoshop, which a) made me realise how much work animators do- handy for if I ever work with them professionally and b) is a good life skill, which I rate too.

What Else? 

Honestly, when I’m asked about my degree in real life I often have to fight to stop from jumping on the defensive straight up. Sometimes I feel like a big ball of fluffy pink fairyfloss, floating around writing nice words and saying pretty things when there are people out their being Social Workers, or Paramedics, or Garbage Men- putting their lives to good and practical use. The truth is, though, art is important. Words are important. The nice words and pretty things are what help bridge some of us from existence to life, and I’m proud as heck to be a part of that.

My degree is brilliant in that it connects me with like-minded people who, apart from writing, are enormously different from myself. The ability to sit down and bounce ideas off of each other is unmissable. Their support and ability to critique and way of thinking is why my first novel is unfurling and not just sitting at the back of my brain somewhere.

Any degree, any vocational training, any education is brilliant in that it makes you think. Do you ever look at an idea or concept somebody has and marvel that their brain actually came up with that? Same, but making yourself think and wonder and explore creates pathways between your synapses that magic is made of.

The best bit is doing something I love, every day. I study my degree full-time, and being consumed by it feels intoxicating in the best possible way. If you’re struggling to enjoy what you study, or if you’re tossing up the idea of studying afresh, I urge you to consider doing something you love. It might not be writing, or painting, or artsy at all, but if it’s what you love then work will come, purpose will come, and both you and the world will be so very thankful for it.

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