my degree

Reader,

If you don’t know already, though I’d have thought you would, I’m studying a creative writing degree at university. I made the decision to change from being a joint honours Creative Writing and English Literature student to a single honours Creative Writing last year. I love my degree, even in the moments when I don’t ; ) , and I wanted to talk about it with you.

I study my subject at a creative and arts based university which means I’m surrounded by creative people every day. I question myself and my choice to do a creative degree as well as the questioning of others every day but I always come to the conclusion that not only was it the only degree for me, but that it’s a great degree to have, particularly for someone with just high writing ambitions as myself.

My course so far has focused on strengthening and increasing the reach and honing of my writing skill. We are pushed to writing things well out of our comfort zone, and work shopping our writing with our fellow students is a massive part of the course. Studying writing, at least in my opinion, is a bit different because of where you start when you come to university. In terms of the creative writing skill, most people are self taught when they come to uni. Aside from writing the occasional story in English Lit at school, most writers on the course discovered the writing community online or from books and authors they love, and learned the lingo by immersion in that community. The course that I’m taking has very much been based on the idea that we’re in need of a recap of the rules in order to break them and the first year I found I didn’t learn anything new so much as learnt how to make the writing I was already doing far far better.

This year is more about honing in and trying new things, at least for me. I’ve picked modules that support what I’ve always wanted to write, as well as modules that force me into fields that are more of a new interest. This year is far more about learning career skills in terms of writing, and I’ve embraced that by taking an open module that allows me to do a work placement as part of my course. I’m still not sure what I want to do after uni yet, but I know I want to write as a career and this year is allowing me to explore all of the ways that I can do that.

Another thing that’s been great about my degree and specifically my university is that we’re taught by successful and established writers and are constantly shown examples of how people who’ve done our exact course have gone on to be successful published writers. The connections our uni has to great writers, editors and members of the publishing industry give me the confidence to pursue my passion with the knowledge that a job will follow, whatever that might be.

There are lectures and lecturers that really inspire me and of course ones that are a bit more lacking. There are tutors that I feel don’t really understand or even try to understand what I write, but these are all in the minority to what is otherwise a great and motivating course. There are times where I question the expense of uni, particularly with the creative degree and somewhat limited  career prospects (at least in the eyes of many creative degree doubters). I still think there are many ways in which my uni and my course are failing. That being said, for the most part, my uni course only fuels the fire I have for creative writing and fills me with hope for the future. I attend one of the top unis in the country for my course and I’m extremely grateful for that opportunity.

So that’s my experience with a creative writing degree. If you have any questions feel free to shoot them at me. What do you guys study if at all and would you ever consider a creative degree?

Leigh-Ann

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my personal version of journaling

Reader,

I am a very introspective person. I like to think and spend a lot of time (probably almost a destructive amount of time) reflecting and thinking about how to improve myself. Though I probably do it too often, this is a part of myself that I’ve always quite appreciated because I think I’m a reasonably self aware person and I think this helps my understanding of myself and how I communicate with others. Anyway, this need and love of reflection and expression of my inner thoughts is a massive reason behind why I write and one of the ways that I write is by journaling.

I think I’ve always journaled in one way or another but I’ve never stuck to one method enough to feel qualified to talk about it or be part of the huge journaling community on the internet. My journal is not pretty and organised. My journal is just for me. It’s messy and disjointed and lots of the pages are blank or scribbled on. I would never dream of a journal flip through or show and tell. It contains my thoughts and is purely there for me to get my thoughts in order. Writing things down has always helped me this way.

I think this method of journaling has been extremely beneficial to me and in a way blogging itself has been some form of journal for me too, just one filled with the thoughts that I am more comfortable sharing. Since the whole essence of this blog is about how writing things down helps me piece together myself and my life I thought it would be a good thing to talk about here.

My journal is a bright yellow notebook with blank pages without lines and each page has a rainbow coloured edge. It’s very quirky which I like. I tend to pick pretty notebooks to use as journals as for some reason I feel more inclined to fill them and it makes me feel good to look at the book filled with my messy thoughts and still think it beautiful.

I have no order or rules for my journal. I don’t write in it every day or once a week, in fact I don’t have any sort of schedule. I write when I feel like I have to. Sometimes I just stream of consciousness write, sometimes it’ll be one sentence in the middle of the page written in tiny writing. Sometimes I draw scribbles, sometimes I stick photographs. The only rule is that I remember that nothing has to be perfect and no one is ever going to read it but me. My journal isn’t about keeping secrets. It’s not about documenting a day. It’s like a bin almost, somewhere to dump thoughts that are busy and overflowing in my brain. They don’t all have to be sad thoughts, in fact one thing that I wrote in it is a list of all the things that I could think of that made me happy. The list is still growing and it’s a great thing to refer to when I need to smile.

I think the problem with journaling is that lots of people don’t know where to start but the thing is, neither did I. I just remember feeling something really strong and needing some sort of an outlet. I picked up a notebook started writing and bam. I remember throwing out my first journal. I didn’t like some of the things that I’d written about myself or my situation. I learnt after though that journal entries are like snap shots into one moment in a lifetime and the person or head space that you were or were in at the point of writing it will probably quickly change, but you shouldn’t be ashamed about the past, but learn from it.

Journaling and writing to me mean sanity. What do they mean to you?

Leigh-Ann