I recently finished my (BA) English and Creative Writing, and after some deliberation I applied to and am now on an MA Creative Writing course. Of course, studying creative writing at university is not necessary for becoming a writer and you might not become a good one because of it, but there are many benefits which I have enjoyed over the past three years.
Workshopping. You can join writing groups and talk with friends about your writing, but I think that workshopping writing at university has been a valuable experience for me. Firstly, you learn how to critique other people’s work. This may sound obvious, but there is an effective way of working through someone else’s writing, added with the atmosphere of a university seminar room, that I have learnt and now will never forget.
(I will talk about this in a future post if anyone is interested for writing groups or anything).
The feedback I have received from peers in a university workshop has greatly improved my work over the years. It can be a bit daunting to show a group of people your first, rough draft of a piece, but when everyone knows that it isn’t going to be great, there are no judgements or expectations.
The other benefit of having a group of people give feedback on a rough draft is that there are so many options for redrafting – it’s not like you brought in a polished piece so some advice might require pulling apart a lot of work.
There is no replacement for group feedback, and after university I hope to join a writing group to continue this work.
Masterclasses. Often, writers are hired to give masterclasses on their speciality, whether that be screenwriting, poetry, novel writing, creative nonfiction, or short stories. It is so valuable to hear from people who are successful in their field, when the writing world is so often perceived as impossible to get into. It shows that success is possible.
The other, obvious benefit to these masterclasses is that these tutors know what they are talking about. Their advice is valuable and has a profound effect on your work.
Job Prospects. Talking about how difficult it can be to be successful in writing, having a university qualification in Creative Writing can lead to jobs that would not be possible without it. You can go into research, lecture at a university, take masterclasses of your own. You also meet so many people that work in the industry – this can be hugely important to getting a future role somewhere.
I am not saying that these options are not available to those who do not study Creative Writing at university. What I am saying, however, is that it gives you a step up.
If you are considering studying Creative Writing at university, do your research! Look at what courses offer and go for what interests you. I picked a course that had a lot of freedom in what I could write and research, but you may prefer a course that has more definite guidelines. Make sure the course is right for you before applying!