Student responses to Creative Writing: Student narratives 1

Creative Writing

This set of pages forms the major project output of the research into student expectations of doing Creative Writing at the undergraduate level conducted during 2007-8 by Dr Steve May, Head of Department, Bath Spa University.

A full description of the project and methodology is available on this website and you can read an overview of the project and its findings in Issue 14 of the English Subject Centre Newsletter.

Student Narratives

Student responses to a series of questions about their expectations of doing Creative Writing have been edited into a series of overlapping themed narratives. They have also been arranged by year (Level 1, 2, and 3) to show progression and change in students’ understanding and expectation of themselves and their courses. Some responses appear under more than one heading. By clicking on the links, you can go straight to the theme and level that most interests you.

Level One

Key features of student responses at Level One are the acknowledgement that regular writing is an essential and beneficial aspect of taking the course.  Many students see this as more important than exercises or lessons. A large proportion of students have no idea what to expect, and are not confident about sharing work, or giving and taking feedback.

1. Expectations: moving on from school/college
  • “When I first came I felt really out of my depth. A lot of people had obviously spent years on courses specifically designed to prepare them and my English ‘A’ level didn’t seem useful.”
  • “I still live at home – I still work at the same shop. I just come to a different place to learn and I’ve found it hard to fit writing into my life. It was difficult moving from ‘A’ levels which demanded so much revision and so on to a course fully dependent on my creative side. I’m getting there though – I’m getting ideas sitting in the pub or on the train and now I just want to learn and read stuff – it’s the fitting it all in which is hard.”
  • “As a first year student on this writing course and having been a writer from a young age, I was glad when several theories and strategies I’d thought up privately were being taught.”
  • “I knew what to expect from the course as I had read the course content online and had been on similar creative writing courses (summer camp). So far I believe this course is being run efficiently and I am happy with it.”
  • “I wasn’t too sure what to expect from university, let alone the actual course ‘English with Creative Writing’. I have always enjoyed reading and writing – it is the basis for me wishing to pursue a career in journalism. I’m really enjoying the course – not knowing what to expect simply adds to the challenge of a degree.”
  • “I really enjoy coming to university which is a good thing because I hated college. Uni is totally different – the course itself is interesting and different every time.”
  • “I was very scared coming to my first seminar because I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had trouble finding the room and getting there on time combined with the uncertainly made me very nervous when I sat down. I still feel like that sometimes, like I haven’t quite settled down yet.”
  • “There has…been a slight concentration on the reviewing of (fairly basic) grammar, which I know a lot of students including myself have found rather dull. My thoughts were that people who have been accepted onto this type of course will have done English A levels and so should already have this sort of knowledge.”
  • “I thought the Creative Writing course was a little slow starting as it began with grammar which we already should have known. I was expecting more work developing character, plot, setting, etc. and discussing ways of putting them on paper.”
  • “When I first enrolled in the course I expected it to be more structured and set in terms of writing tasks but was surprised to see more flexibility of choice.”
  • “When I first signed up… I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I assumed that we would be graded for writing and coming up with our own story. After the first day of class, I realised that it took more to become a ‘writer’.”
  • “My ultimate fear was that I wouldn’t be any good at writing. I had an idea of what worked on stage because I studied Drama for three years at College. During my time there I thoroughly enjoyed the writing and devising module and this was something I wanted to restart a passion for. After three years out of education, travelling and working, I am still certain that drama excites me and there is nothing else I would be happier doing.”
  • “The creative writing course is something I have dreamed about for while. However, I wasn’t sure if I was brave enough to take the challenge. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect or indeed if I was creative enough but that uncertainty excited me and I am now glad that I took the challenge.”
  • “I don’t regret taking [English and Creative Writing], though perhaps regret not preparing myself for other people criticizing my work and having to criticize others.”
  • “I’ve always loved creative writing but it was always the area of English that was passed over in school, particularly in the 6th form, in favour of a more analytical style of writing.”
  • “I was expecting the lectures to be fairly long-winded and boring as well as probably impossible to understand but the lectures and seminars are really interesting and, surprisingly, often funny.”
2. Why do Creative Writing? A career in mind? Self development?
  • “When I chose my course for my degree I looked purely at English Literature with Creative Writing courses because they offer the balance between an old, respectable subject and a subject that is more creative.”
  • “Creative Studies in English at [X University] would have been my ideal choice of university course, but in the case of fees now being £3,000 per year I knew I had to be ‘savvy’ in picking a course that would give me a good ‘spring-board’ into a job/career that would at least give an option of stability. So I chose to combine Creative Writing with 50% English Literature, meaning I would be eligible to train to teach English at secondary level via a PGCE after my degree, which I know I will enjoy and seemed a ‘sensible’ option all round.”
  • “Judgements regarding reputations of institutions and of courses themselves did affect my decisions, as advice from teachers, parents and careers people repeatedly tell prospective students that in the climate of declining graduate jobs, every element such as this counts.”
  • “I’ve always loved creative writing but it was always the area of English that was passed over in school, particularly in the 6th form, in favour of a more analytical style of writing. Whilst I enjoy doing that too, I was glad of the opportunity to return to the creative side of writing and university in the hope of fulfilling a career in writing later on, something I’ve always wanted to do.”
  • “I like the course but don’t exactly love it. I chose creative writing because I love writing and it’s what I want to do.”
  • “I am at university for the specific purpose of gaining a degree. English was chosen as it is a subject which I feel comfortable with. I am less restricted by boundaries as assignments are more based on personal opinion than anything else. Other than that, I chose English as people have remarked to me that I have an aptitude for writing so I should try and develop it. I have no idea where an English degree will take me, what path it will lead me on in life. I know however, that it is the course that will grant me the best degree I can achieve.”
  • “I chose to do a creative writing degree because it is a broad degree and would allow me to into almost any career I like. So far, the creative writing course is going better than I expected and I am enjoying the challenges of writing. I like the course because it enables me to express myself and really let my imagination run wild.”
  • “I’ll spend my life chasing my dream of becoming a novelist, even if my chase is hopeless, even if I feel I only have a 1% chance of becoming an established English author, I am committed.”
  • “One of the primary reasons I chose a creative writing degree was to give me a reason to write. I found that when left to my own devices, though I enjoy writing, it took a lot of motivation to get me into a piece. I write better out of necessity I believe, if only out of fear of letting others down. I also wanted to overcome my phobia at feedback and the idea the writing as a completely secretive activity which I feel the course is helping me to achieve. Additionally I wanted an academic or professional opinion on whether or not I could pursue something related to the subject as a career path – I wanted to know whether or not I had potential, or talent, or not.”
  • “I’ve wanted to take creative writing since I heard such courses existed, and four years later, I’m here. Writing is just what I do. I can’t imagine how I’d manage if I didn’t write – go stark raving mad, perhaps. The English Literature side of things is also interesting, and reading a wider range of material is important, but creative writing is why I am here. Unfortunately we must face the practical fact that 60% of published authors only earn £5K a year, and having a traditional degree may just save me from total poverty. If, by the end of my three years, I feel my work has improved and my experiences have broadened, then I will consider it a success. So far, so good, and I hope the course will continue to improve as we go along, and my fellow writers come out of their shells and really rip my pieces apart. If you’re indecisive, take the course! It’s damn hard work but well worth it.”
  • “I chose to do Creative Writing with English because I know writing is something I enjoy. I’m not sure how useful it will be in the future, but I’m enjoying it at the moment. I actually would prefer to be doing more writing modules.”
  • “I have no idea where a degree in fiction writing might take me. However, the program so far has challenged me in ways I have never been challenged. I’ve always been interested in writing, but never had the proper motivation or will to complete anything. This class has sparked something inside of me, an inspiration, a motivation I have been unable to find anywhere else. Wherever this road may lead me, I will be satisfied knowing that I am now able to collect my ideas and put them to paper, in a manner that is accessible to others.”
  • “I didn’t come to university expecting to do Creative Writing. I just saw it as a ‘guilty pleasure’ to do as one of my Part One subjects as I’ve been writing poetry for a few years, and want to improve on it. I’d love to take the subject as part of a combined major with English Literature but am worried that the creative writing element won’t be taken seriously by employers and friends. One of my oldest friends, who I live with – an accounting student – calls it a ‘hippie subject’.”
  • “I’m actually not a fiction major. I decided to take the Fiction course because I wanted to try something new that would challenge my creativity and expand the way I think about not only myself, but the way I approach my art. I knew nothing about what to expect… but decided to give it a shot because of my deep affinity for an instructor who was teaching it.”
  • “As one fellow student on my course said “I came here to drink, not to study”. I don’t entirely agree with her – I came because there was no alternative and writing was the only thing I believed I was good at. Only a few weeks in and I can’t wait for the next writing seminar to come around! When not ‘socializing’ with friends, I put my soul into becoming a better writer and just enjoying every word I write.”
  • “… the course itself is fantastic! It is one of those subjects people respond to like “Oh really….yes, well what are you going to DO with that?” I suppose I’ve not really thought that far ahead yet; I reply that it’s just something I’ve always enjoyed and that having a degree in something so enjoyable is just going to be a huge bonus.”
  • “I’m taking fiction writing for two reasons: as an Illustration major, I plan on doing writing to improve my imaginative skills, and also, just for fun and self-improvement.”
  • “I often find myself questioning whether or not I should be studying something that guarantees a good job but I quickly remember that I’m not doing this to get a good career – I’m doing it because it’s a way of life.”
  • “I’ve learnt that writing as a solo career is pretty hazardous so I’m currently developing other projects to aid my writing, as it’s always important to have a back-up plan.”
  • “As with a lot of people, I didn’t know what to expect of a creative writing course.  With regards to whether or not it leads on to ‘real work’ – I certainly hope it doesn’t, or I might have picked something else.  All going well, I do actually want to write professionally, not end up in an office.”
  • “I always wanted to do some sort of English degree.  Creative Writing was an interest of mine and was happy when I saw it as an option.  I don’t care if no-one employs me because of it.  I want to be a teacher and write on the side.  My English Literature degree would be used to get me a job in teaching.  My interest in taking creative writing was to channel my mind, give me discipline in terms of writing to meet a deadline and to let me know that there were other like-minded people out there.”
  • “I don’t think there are many ‘pretentious wankers’ taking this course as after a while their stuff gets boring.  I am, however, holding out to become a comedy writer – if that doesn’t fly, teaching will do.”
  • “In all honesty, this [Creative Writing] is the main reason why I am at university.  Creative Writing was a course that I had always wanted to take – and now that I am doing it, I am enjoying it to a large extent.  I’ve done my own writing at home for the past three years, so to get the opportunity to do this as part of a degree was an opportunity I knew I had to take.  In the future, I certainly do not expect to be a published writer – but what I do know is how much I am enjoying the course and how much I would have regretted it if I had made the decision not to take this course just because many employers don’t see it as a very worthy subject.”
  • “It’s OK so far.  I took the course because I like reading and writing and I still do.  Plus it’s better than full-time work which just plain sucks.”
  • “I did not know what to expect.  I’m still not sure how useful or relevant to a career this will be but I am enjoying it.  I think it will improve as time goes on, especially the creative writing module, because people will gain confidence and open up.”
  • “At first returning to education was a strange pipe dream and attempting creative writing was something that I did in my spare time!  Now that I’m here and studying I find the course really enjoyable.”
  • “I am a white male, mature student (62) and have specifically selected this course at this university basically because it exactly suits my requirements.  This is what I thought before during and after the application process (and still ……after 4 weeks). I want to fulfil a lifetime ambition to get some writing done – this seems a good way to go about it.”
  • “I came to [University] later in age than most to pursue my ‘academic career’.  I tried many other means of pursuit but always felt dissatisfied whether by employment or study on anything that lacked creativity.  And so, at 37, I turned to the nag that had been tugging on my coat tails for years… I knew that I needed to be in a place where my creativity could be nurtured and then, hopefully, bludgeoned to become something great – the glorified author that I knew my words could achieve.”
  • “I have always been a writer – and writing as a profession has always been my aim in life.  However, it’s taken me a while to get here.  At 28 I decided to come to Uni and do this course on a whim.  I am here solely to indulge myself.  The degree aspect is really just an added bonus.  I know that to be a published writer I do not need a degree – unlike other jobs.”
  • “I had always assumed that university would be just another stage in my life; it never occurred to me not to go, even thought I had also never really considered which course to do. “
  • “I decided to do English because it had always been a strong point of mine due to my early passion for reading and my vivid imagination which led me to expansive creative writing.  I was one of few children to love poetry and writingstories instead of reading them. “
  • “My whole life, I’ve always done what I enjoyed as opposed to what was expected of me, or what was needed to reach a certain goal or aim.  Writing is what I enjoy so it’s what I am doing now.  I have no aim for the future, only the plan to succeed at whatever I do.  Creative Writing seemed as if it would be an eye-opening course because I would be writing lots and reading other people’s writing.  I think I have already learnt a lot from it and gained new skills from the workshops.”
  • “I started this course because I’m interested in writing and I want to improve.  So far, I’ve learned quite a few useful things, and the regular assignments have helped me to become more organised.  I definitely don’t regret changing from a computing course to this.”
  • “I’m actually a film major taking fiction classes for fun.”
  • “I came to university because I wanted to improve the quality of my own writing.  I have written a novel but will not attempt to send it to publisher until I have finished my course, as hopefully then I will be capable of making improvements.”
  • “I wasn’t too sure what to expect from university, let alone the actual course ‘English with Creative Writing’.   I have always enjoyed reading and writing – it is the basis for me wishing to pursue a career in journalism.  I’m really enjoying the course – not knowing what to expect simply adds to the challenge of a degree.”
  • “I chose this course because I didn’t know what I wanted to do – I still don’t.  English Literature and Creative Writing seemed to go together and I happened to get good grades in them.  It seemed to choose itself for me.”
  • “The reason why I took such a writing course is because it is rewarding at the end of the day.  Telling stories, creating characters and situations, and all that jazz is rewarding.  It makes you share a part of yourself to the world in a very creative way.”
  • “The Creative Writing part is my favourite part of this course simply because I am extremely creative – whether it be music, art, or English.”
  • “I always knew I was going to study English at university, since I’ve always been good at English and always enjoyed writing stories and articles, etc.”
  • “I’ve been to university before, studying English.  However, I’ve found that I am much more of a practical person.  I was impatient and uninspired with the study of literature.  I guess my ultimate aim all along was to create some of my own!  So….I chose creative writing.  I’m hoping it will give me the time and focus to write and enable me to build a body of work for use in future projects.  So far it is too early to tell if that will happen.”
  • “In the future, I hope to use the techniques that I have learnt in order to teach.”
  • “I’m an international student from the US and they don’t offer scriptwriting/playwriting at my university.  I really wanted to try it out during my study abroad course.”
  • “I already studied a year at the University of Luxembourg, which has an excellent English Department.  I had a course with the title “Practical Approaches to Poetry” in which writing critiques and discussing each others’ work is normal and so I am used to get critiques for my work and not afraid of it as I know that the quality of my writing mostly depends on the feedback I get from others, but on the other side I won’t neglect my personal view.  After taking that course and writing already for about six years, I was more than sure that I would enjoy Creative Writing at an English university even if I wrote before mostly in German or French.  The seminars started indeed a bit slow for me but this is due to my experience at our university which my fellow students lacked and so it was not problem to me.  I think that English Literature and Creative Writing work very well together as it gives you a better insight into the writer’s mind…..”
  • “I chose the course solely on the basis that it was one of the few in the country that offered a ‘creative writing’ element as part of a practical application.  I had always written prose and poetry, but wanted my writing to have more direction and more focus – scriptwriting seemed like the ideal avenue for this, particularly because it would teach me to work towards the demands of a particular industry.  This would allow me to diversify beyond the realms of the novelist or poet – often uncertain careers with no sense of feedback apart from the inevitable pile of rejection letters from agents and publishers.  By learning about scriptwriting, a whole other world of possible careers has been opened up for me, from advertising to film to theatre…”
  • “I took a year out to concentrate on myself, my music and my film-making.  I grew up a lot in this year and enrolled on a screenwriting night course and a magazine-writing course on a Friday.”
  • “During this time I started seeing a career advisor because I had no real idea about what I wanted to do.  Through our discussions, it became clear that I wanted to write and it was scripts I wanted to write most of all.”
  • “I was accepted onto the course on the strength of a script I wrote on my night class.  I was proud of the script – it wasn’t what I usually wrote about – and I took this acceptance as some sort of validation.
3. English, Creative Writing, and other subjects
  • “Ever since starting the course, I have found that my ideas for writing have been flowing far more readily.  Because it is part of my course, I feel I have more motivation to write.  However, because of the workload for my other subjects I have trouble finding time to write them all down.”
  • “Even though I loved Media Studies A-level, I knew I couldn’t continue it at University.  This is because of the course’s reputation with employers.  I knew that a traditional academic subject was favoured and more respectable.  I continued with English even though I wasn’t good at it – the Creative Writing element to my course would be a ‘guilty pleasure’ so to speak.  I was reassured that English with Creative Writing was a respectable course because Warwick University offers it, one of the top universities for English…”
  • “When I chose my course for my degree I looked purely at English Literature with Creative Writing courses because they offer the balance between an old, respectable subject and a subject that is more creative.  I love the creative writing side at the moment because it approaches literature at a completely different angle to that which I’m used to (as something that is constructed by a writer).  At the moment this course seems to offer so many possibilities (in a way English Literature doesn’t).”
  • “I love [Y University] and I’m having an amazing experience, particularly enjoying the creative writing process, but I get the feeling I should devote more time to it, but in retrospect I’m not sure whether a degree consisting of just Creative [Writing] would have been better suited to me.”
  • “In coming to this course I am feeling quite inspired in terms of my creative writing and Victorian literature.”
  • “When I first got here I was not too worried about my lectures.  After doing the course for a few weeks now I have found that creative writing is interesting and by far my favourite subject.  I like it a lot more than the English side of the course.”
  • “Although I enjoy writing in my own time and having the chance to read other people’s work, I’m glad Creative Writing is only one module on my English course.  Although my initial fears were of a class full of pretentious, psychologically damaged rich kids, and generally annoying wankers, I have learnt to put up with them.”
  • “I was terrified about the creative writing module – I had to do it as part of English studies.  My interest was much more about studying ‘good published literature’ than attempting anything of my own.  However, so far it has been fine and I am actually enjoying the exercises.  Even though I don’t ever expect to be the next Charlotte Brontë or JK Rowling, I can see that investigating the creative process is useful for studying those that have been successful.”
  • “Studying English and Creative Writing joint with Media Studies is a good combination for me not only because they complement each other but because they keep me on my toes as I have three different areas of study.  The variation keeps me motivated so I’m not bored of studying the same thing every week.”
  • “The reason why I chose this module was because I thought the creative writing process would be interesting and I would undoubtedly acquire useful writing skills which may help me to achieve my goals.  Studying English at university is an achievement in itself and during my first year I wish the modules were a bit more diverse…”
  • “I chose to do Creative Writing with English because I know writing is something I enjoy.  I’m not sure how useful it will be in the future, but I’m enjoying it at the moment.  I actually would prefer to be doing more writing modules.”
  • “To be honest, I wish the course had more creative writing modules.  It’s the bits in between I’m not too bothered about.”
  • “It’s also interesting to be in a group where everyone is taking it as a major (joint) degree as they tend to open up quicker and you get some inspirational work which you can bounce off and get inspired from.”
  • “I’d love to take the subject as part of a combined major with English Literature but am worried that the creative writing element won’t be taken seriously by employers and friends.  One of my oldest friends, who I live with – an accounting student – calls it a ‘hippie subject’.”
  • “I had been at another university for a year doing a media production degree.  I had been reacting to all those people who call media a ‘Mickey Mouse’ subject but in the end I realised that they were right.  I learned very little in that year.  I had done most of it before in my two years of amateur film-making.  Everything that I did learn was either only a small advance on what I already knew or was useless to me.”
  • “Initially I thought I may have chosen badly, taking Scriptwriting over Creative Writing. How wrong I was!  Scriptwriting is fundamentally coupled with useful tools/devices and by no means least – the public – due to it being explicitly linked with performed media.  It has taught me to write properly, relax and divulge no more than I need to.  The good thing about the course is that we are rarely blind.  We know where we’re going and how to get there.  ‘Edit’ is the watchword.”
  • “Scriptwriting is geared easily to practicality and commercial use.   But then again we are at the old polytechnic.”
  • “Having been on the Drama and Scriptwriting course for around six months, I am beginning to react against the drama side and the drama students and see myself as a writer wanting a view into the theatre world rather than an actor-in-training.”
  • “I have found myself connecting everything I’m learning about scriptwriting to all the other modules, especially making theatre, which is what I want to do.”
  • “I prefer the writing workshops to the practical drama sessions but I still give the drama my best.”
  • “I don’t know what exactly I was expecting from studying English and Creative Writing.  I think I just wanted to broaden my knowledge of the structure of the language, but I didn’t think they would actually show us how to ‘create’.  After all, is being a writer something you can learn?  Apparently so.  I’m amazed at the different angles we are coming at storytelling from. Critical theory has particularly surprised and excited me.  Our workload and reading list is very daunting, but as self-confessed ‘lovers of books’ I don’t think we have much room to complain!”
4. Workshopping and sharing work: confidence – or lack of it
  • “Being at university is still daunting but the creative writing side of things is fantastic.  However, everybody in the class seems a lot more advanced than me which is horrible because I’ve never been very confident about my writing.”
  • “I was daunted by the prospect of an English degree but I feel I am coping with it well.  I strongly suspect some other students are better writers than me but I can only improve.  I am looking forward to the challenge.”
  • “I didn’t know anything about playwriting before I came here.  I find it a little intimidating reading work aloud sometimes for fear I’ve misinterpreted the assignment or something but the group here is very supportive.”
  • “I used to write all the time before I came to university, and never tried very hard because it was just for fun.  Here, I have to try really hard every week, and it takes up so much of my time.  But it’s all in a quest to not being the worst writer.
  • “At first returning to education was a strange pipe dream and attempting creative writing was something that I did in my spare time!  Now that I’m here and studying I find the course really enjoyable.  Workshop groups are a useful experience and have given me the confidence to show some of my work to others and value their feedback whether it be good or bad!”
  • “This is my second time round as a first year.  This time I am enjoying it a lot more.  I feel more challenged.  One thing I do not like at the moment is having to share my writing with others.  However maybe as I go on and my experience grows so will my confidence in my writing.”
  • “…although I’m not particularly confident about my skills, the course has gradually helped me to open up more and have the faith to put my work forward to the rest of the group without the fear of being ridiculed.”
  • “I’m still somewhat nervous about having my work critiqued but I am enjoying it and I’m sure that my writing skills are improving.  I like the fact that the lectures and seminars are designed to aid you as a writer and not teachings on how you should write.”
  • “This class has been amazingly fun so far, even though I get intimidated by the skill of my classmates who are majoring in Fiction Writing.  Workshops and games are not unlike thumbnails in Illustration – rough ideas generated quickly, each with the potential to blossom into an independent work. I just wish I could stop feeling uneasy about sharing my work with others.”
  • “I believe the creative writing workshop would be different if it was not a seminar but a lecture instead.  Students would still learn but would not get the experience to show others their work and to judge what they have done also.  I love to write and sometimes am worried about what others will think of my work but that is part of English, as to improve we have to learn.”
  • “Some aspects work really well, such as the workshops where we email our writing to the group and then give each other feedback in class.  I think this lack of face-to-face confrontation is really helpful because it means people are far less shy about what they write and do not have to worry about reading it out.”
  • “Creative writing was something I longed to do.  Since I won the [competition] in 2003, I’ve felt passionate about writing.  As I feel it allows me to express myself.  However, at university I felt overwhelmed by the idea of sharing my feelings and expressions with others, in case they criticise them.  Nevertheless, I’m going to try and allow for these criticisms as they will better me as a writer.”
  • “At first I was very surprised by the process the department employed, and more than a little nervous about opening myself up so deeply to perfect strangers.  I’ve never really done fiction before, so it was a bit intimidating.”
  • “Taking a creative writing course has been odd.  Even though I know that there are no rules, I still feel that I need to censor myself.  I just don’t feel comfortable letting my true thoughts and feelings out to the class of strangers.  Perhaps it’s fear of judgement or criticism, I don’t know.  Some pretty crazy far out ideas bounce around in my giant head.”
  • “I have learnt a lot through doing this creative writing module.  I feel better in myself when it comes to writing.  I feel more confident in my writing skills and professionalism.  However, there have been many times, where I have felt left out and out of my depth.”
  • “When I first started I felt out of my depth.  But as the course has moved on, I feel I’ve come out of my shell.  I find workshopping my work easy and fun.  I get feedback which helps me expand my work.  I even had the confidence to read out a piece of my work in a seminar.”
  • “The course has helped me develop confidence in my own writing, because I was worried what people would think of my writing.”
  • “Gaining feedback from people who read my work non-analytically has built my confidence and made me realise that people are actually interested in what I write about.”
  • “I dread reading my own work but even more so critiquing other peoples’.  I don’t know why but reading my own thoughts about a piece to everyone in the room scares me far more than reading out my own work.”
  • “I like my work being criticised (constructively, of course) by people who know that they’re talking about.  People are often worried that they’ll say something you won’t like, but in seminars it’s very helpful.”
  • “I don’t regret taking [English and Creative Writing], though perhaps regret not preparing myself for other people criticizing my work and having to criticize others.”
  • “When we first had to criticise each other’s work I was plain terrified – it was horrible slagging off someone’s work like that when you didn’t even know them but now as the term has progressed I think everyone has started to take each other’s comments with a pinch of salt and realise it’s not just a personal dig at you…Well, sometimes it might be.”
  • “I often wonder if I can do this creative writing course but I never regret deciding to do it.”
5. Creative Writing – an easy option? Working alone outside workshop
  • “My maths major flatmate sits up all night moaning about equations while I can just sit with a brew and summon up my creative juices.  I know which one I’d rather be doing.  Ha Ha!”
  • “I still live at home – I still work at the same shop.  I just come to a different place to learn and I’ve found it hard to fit writing into my life.  It was difficult moving from ‘A’ levels which demanded so much revision and so on to a course fully dependent on my creative side.  I’m getting there though – I’m getting ideas sitting in the pub or on the train and now I just want to learn and read stuff – it’s the fitting it all in which is hard.”
  • “The workload was more than expected.”
  • “The creative writing element of this course gives us the opportunity to write what we want and express our own feelings in a way that the other modules do not.  However, I really did not realise how hard it would be to just put pen to paper and write.”
  • “I expected university to be a lot of hard work and it is.  I’m accustomed to writing essays but a minimum of 1,500 per week for just one module is quite different.”
  • “I’d like to know where the student who said he/she was coasting through a creative program goes to school.  I don’t feel that is the case at all.  Every day I feel I am constantly being pushed, first, just to build a body of work, and second to constantly be improving upon the writing in it.  As with any class or degree program, I feel that I can take as much as I want (or as little) from my classes.  I feel like my teachers want to see me succeed, as long as I am willing to work for it.”
  • “It’s hard in a way because the teacher says ‘Write!’ and you have to think of something on the spot.  You suffer from the worst case of writer’s block on this course.  To the point that if you get anything half decent down it’s a serious achievement.”
  • “So far I’ve really enjoyed this course.  It has allowed me the space to write and explore my own abilities.  At first I found it difficult just to go away and write something without being given a structure or direction but I’m getting used to it.  It’s actually quite fun.”
  • “My flatmates tend to give me grief over my choice of subject – I have 7-9 hours of lectures and seminars a week and they all have up to 24 hours and are taking ‘proper’ subjects, such the sciences or maths.  I tend to respond that I have over a million books to read and as I am taking a ‘creative’ subject I am thinking over writing possibilities and not just spending the day eating Hobnobs in my pyjamas.”
  • “I love the forum of the class….the environment.  I like to hear others’ work and listen to my own work at the hands of others.  The feedback (positive or negative) is encouraging.  However, I feel as though once I leave the classroom, it is very difficult to make any creative progress with my work.  I think because my job, other classes, social life, grocery shopping, etc. etc. consume my attention.  I do clear much time to do assignments but spend most of that time staring at blank screens and pages.  It’s like pulling teeth and most of what I write for the class I come to dislike about halfway through the storyline and then I am faced with the unpleasant choices of drudging through to find some sort of an ending or starting all over.”
  • “I do find that my greatest difficulty doesn’t lie in writing stories, but rather in coming up with them and as a result I feel creatively drained by having to come up with a new story each week.  Though we spend time on coming up with ideas in class I feel as though I would benefit on learning tricks to developing those story starts.”
6. Teaching writing: does it work?
  • “The creative writing course has given me plenty of ideas but I am still a little uncertain as to how it’s going to go and whether it is going to help to improve my writing.  I am still not sure if I am cut out for all this writing bit but I really enjoy it and want to give it a fair go.”
  • “I don’t know what exactly I was expecting from studying English and Creative Writing.  I think I just wanted to broaden my knowledge of the structure of the language, but I didn’t think they would actually show us how to ‘create’.  After all, is being a writer something you can learn?  Apparently so.  I’m amazed at the different angles we are coming at storytelling from. Critical theory has particularly surprised and excited me.  Our workload and reading list is very daunting, but as self-confessed ‘lovers of books’ I don’t think we have much room to complain!”
  • “Everybody’s writing is different, and really couldn’t be compared.  Teaching such a class is hard, as you have to inspire courage within the students.  There are some things that cannot be taught – you can only tell them what works for them and has worked for others, and see if that helps.  The best lesson to be taught is to keep writing.  Some people have problems with too much creative freedom – they are stuck-up shits who want everything their way, but you have to let yourself go and simply pick up the pen and WRITE.”
  • “I write because it makes me complete.  It is not about who is better, but it is about me.  As I continue this path, along the road many new doors open and my mind can always gain new ideas and learn.  These courses only help me structure my ideas and expand on them.  Creative writing is a world where I have no rules to follow – it gives me a break from the rules I always have to follow in life.”
  • “I enjoy my personal creative writing process, but resent the formalised structure.  Ultimately this course is a means to an end, although I am keen for it to become more than just that, less laboured.  Undoubtedly I will gain from it, however quite what that will be I’m unsure.  Reading this back, perhaps I should be paying more attention.”
  • “I enjoy all of my writing classes and they challenge me because they are unlike some other traditional classes and degrees.  There is never one right answer or way to do things, and that is fun for me.”
  • “Our teacher would play all types of word games with us that allowed us to control and play around with our imagination.  As a result, it has sharpened my writing skills in a way I didn’t know was possible.  I would recommend this program to anyone who has a passion for writing.  Not only will it help enhance their skills, but it will allow the individual to look at their artistic world in another perspective.”
  • “I have gained much in a short amount of time [including] the luxury of indulging in all the books I read, which have now become course requirements… Reading aloud, writing, recalling, writing…have forced my pen to grind.  But most valuable still is the community that is created by instructors, peers and outside sources that foster my own creativity – that call upon me to speak out – to write – to read – to listen to those who came before me.”
  • “I took time off from college for three years before returning to finish.  The first school I was involved in was extremely expensive, and I wasn’t satisfied with my creative writing experience.  There was no structure, and the success of the class was contingent upon classroom chemistry.  There were no levels, just open entry Fiction Workshops.  Serious writers were mixed with beginning level students, and it really lowered the bar.  When I did return to finish school, I picked one with a more structured writing department.  It offered more of a community atmosphere.  Despite the most important part of writing being done in solitude, it’s important to find people who you respect to share your work.”
  • “Writing to deadlines has often forced my scripts to take an entirely new direction and has been of huge benefit to me – it finally made me stop procrastinating and get some actual writing done.”
  • “I have found this course both interesting and informative so far.  It has enabled me to look at my own work with new vision.  And has awakened a passion for poetry I never thought I had!”
  • “I am enjoying the course, although it is not entirely what I expected.  Some aspects work really well, such as the workshops where we email our writing to the group and then give each other feedback in class.  I think this lack of face-to-face confrontation is really helpful because it means people are far less shy about what they write and do not have to worry about reading it out.”
  • “However, one aspect of the course which I do wish was different is the amount of feedback we receive from the lecturers.  I thought they would look at our work far more than they actually do.  I think this sort of professional criticism would be really useful, especially as the workshop groups do have a tendency to be far too polite.”
  • “I guess I’ve enjoyed the creative writing part of the module, ie. actually writing the pieces, but I’m not convinced I would have chosen to do it if I didn’t enjoy it.  As for the seminars, I don’t know that, so far at least, I’ve particularly learnt anything new or had constructive criticism on my work.”
  • “I enjoy creative writing, but I do not feel that I have really taken anything from the lectures.  What I write is from own ideas and experience, I don’t feel that I have learnt many new techniques but I do feel that the lectures have guided me with trying out new things that I would not have thought to write about previously.”
  • “I’m enjoying the workgroups.  I like emailing the work so I don’t have to read it out.  We did some sessions on punctuation which were a complete waste of time, with the lecturer just reading from a book.  I’m not sure if she knew any of it herself.  There hasn’t been enough lecturing on how to write, and a lot of time gets wasted, either in workgroups or admin.”
  • “I came to the course expecting more input from the seminar leaders.  The majority of comments that have been made on my work have been from fellow students, which is fine.  However, as we are all at a similar level, I think some advice from a more experienced writer may be more helpful.  I hoped for examples to be given from excerpts of various novelists/story writers, not just to be given a reading list and to get on with it.  If we were given new ways of thinking or different techniques, that would be beneficial.  One week we were given quite obviously a photocopied sheet that had been taken from [Z] University – the tutor proceeded to sit, reading her own book to herself for the rest of the session.”
  • “I’m not sure how much I’m learning from the Creative Writing courses but it provides me with a consistent motivation to write that I haven’t had before.  I’ve always enjoyed writing and knew I was good at it, but I never had any ideas and could never seem to make time for it.
  • “Gaining feedback from people who read my work non-analytically has built my confidence and made me realise that people are actually interested in what I write about.  If nothing else, the sheer volume of what I’ve written since I began this course has improved my writing.  However, I sometimes wonder if there might be a less expensive way of gaining motivation. I am sure that I want to be a writer now, and that if I do any course at university, it will be creative writing.”
  • “I am glad I have taken the course because it has made me sit down and write even when I feel I don’t have the time.  And as seeing as this why I took the course, although I am not loving it, I don’t regret taking it.”
  • “I’ve found that in fiction classes like in most screenwriting classes that if I’m improving it has more to do with the fact that I’m being forced to write than what I’m actually learning in the class.”
  • “It has always been in my nature to write my creative thoughts on paper, whether it be in the form of poetry or short stories.  Therefore, I relish the creative writing seminars which enable me to gain valuable feedback and improve my original work.”
  • “You do creative writing but when asked to write something about the course you draw a blank.  Well, I’ll give it a try.  When I started the course I expected to be constantly writing.  I find I am.  I love it.  In my free time I write constantly and now I find that I can get a degree for doing so.  What is better than that?”
  • “I feel that the English department is not what I thought it would be.  The [Creative writing] lesson is not as good as I thought as I do not feel inspired and interested.  This is due to the fact that I feel that I haven’t learnt as much as in my other modules – maybe because one of the teachers teaches directly from a book and there is minimal interaction.  I feel I learn more from my workshop group (who are students) than one of the lecturers.”
  • “If my seminars were scheduled for any other time of the week, I’d absolutely love it.  Incidentally, I do enjoy it anyway.”
  • “I had high hopes as I left one degree, one with a future, to take this one.  ‘Follow my dream.’  I was kinda let down.  I want more workshops, more feedback, more – more – more.  I want poetry!  But so far I get … Fiction on a Friday.   Not as much as I’d hoped for.  Or maybe I’m greedy?”
  • “This creative writing course is ideal for me – I do like it very much but I wish my peers were more critical of each other’s work.”
  • “…the lectures and seminars are really interesting and, surprisingly, often funny.”
  • “My tutor continues to encourage me in every venture and prospect, creatively altering the course/lectures for different take-offs by the group so everyone will benefit.  I feel I’m well-suited to the course – I have confidence in my work and am pleased with the feedback I receive both from my tutor and my fellow students.  It’s also interesting to note how other people write and the many different ideas one theme/story can produce.”
  • “At first I was very surprised by the process the department employed, and more than a little nervous about opening myself up so deeply to perfect strangers.  I’ve never really done fiction before, so it was a bit intimidating.I have found as the weeks progressed that the class has helped me in all of my courses as well as my day-to-day life.  I’m more alert.  I’m more detail oriented – it’s like the class has been sort of therapy for me – and I’ve greatly enjoyed it.  I’ve also learned that I am a pretty good writer and it is something I’ll continue to do, even if it’s for my own personal enjoyment!”
  • “This course has introduced me to lots of new methods and working in a group makes the process of writing easier.  Before this course, writing was just something fun that I did in my spare time – now it’s something fun that I do most of the time. The course has also shown me how to perfect what I write; I never used to edit any of my work – once it was done, it was done.”
  • “I’ve really enjoyed my time here.  The exercises we do in class encourage me to write in styles I wouldn’t write in regularly such as reading a playwright’s work, studying their style/structure, and then mimicking it in our own way.  I didn’t know anything about playwriting before I came here.”
  • “Right now, I can’t imagine being anywhere else or doing anything else.  This university, this course, and these lecturers and students are doing more than help me achieve what I want to achieve – for the first time in a long while I really feel like myself and that I can do exactly what I want, both personally and academically.  Honest truth.  This is brilliant – the good has far outweighed the bad.”
  • “I’ve loved my first year of creative writing.  For me, being around a lot of talented creative people makes it all worthwhile.  I have so much free time in which to write, and have seen the progress I had hoped for actually reveal itself in my writing.”
  • “When I first came I felt really out of my depth…The second semester has been a lot more positive – meeting people dedicated to their subject has inspired me and a creative society at uni has really made me feel passionately about my course again.  On top of that, the encouragement from tutors and members of that society has boosted my hope.”
  • “I feel I am growing as a person like a seedling in spring.  I am developing and growing confidence in my writing.  Before I came here, I only ever wanted to write scripts for soap operas – now I am slowly developing an urge to write a novel. So I think it is doing me some good.
Level Two

At Level Two there’s still some residual discomfort and reluctance about workshops, coupled with a growing sense in some students that workshop exercises are somehow trivial and irrelevant. Students recognise that the playful, experimental activities of Level One are now being replaced by more demanding, self-directed work. Some also express disappointment that the fun they had as “amateur” writers has been superseded by a sense of forcing out work for a purely academic purpose. Few if any students have any illusions about how hard it would be to get published, let alone earn a living from writing.

1. Progression
  • “Once you get into the second year, it helps you to discover what you want to do. The first year at times seems to be a bit vague, and it wasn’t until I got to the second year I realised what I want to do.”
  • “The course teaches you very valuable skills, and you can see your writing developing as you go through.”
  • “The teachers on the course really encourage you, and you know you can to go them if needed.”
  • “The first year felt a little slow, but I have really enjoyed the second. The classes are more focussed and I can see my writing has improved. I’ve grown in confidence and even the process of writing feels easier and quicker these days.”
  • “I certainly think the course has improved significantly since last year in the quality of work being submitted and the amount of feedback received during seminars. However, I feel that my style or genre of writing is a little out of place in my seminar groups (who, for the most part focus on rather mundane realist topics). I think this may negatively influence the feedback I receive during these seminars. I find it very disappointing to see such a lack of variety in the writing of my seminar groups.”
  • “I enjoy the course a lot, especially now that we are taking the modules that we choose. I think that because I am taking the modules I wish to take it makes me more passionate about my writing and the work I produce. However, I do feel that the assignments that we are set could be more varied. We seem to do a lot of the same things for each module.”
  • “Although critiquing has improved, I still think a large amount of students are still trying to be too ‘nice’ with their comments. I don’t find this helpful at all and would rather endure harsh criticism so that I become accustomed to it.”
  • “I feel that the course has stayed much the same for me this year, but that is good because I like the way this is structured – it works for me!”
  • “I don’t feel that there has been much progress in terms of seminar work, etc. from last year, and I’m pleased about this – submitting something and then using the seminars to work our pieces as a group is something I enjoy, and find useful.”
  • “There is less onus on submitting something every week this which is good. Less pressure. However, unlike last year, we’re not often given ‘themes’ by the tutor in order to inspire writing – something I miss.”
  • “Essentially I have used the Creative Writing course to motivate myself to write, above learning how to write better. The first year seemed to be focussed much more upon exercises to encourage ideas for stories or poems or drama rather than enhancing technical ability. However, in the first year the final project was to produce ten pieces across prose, poetry and drama. This year, however, the task is to produce one substantially longer piece and as such we were expected to find an idea for it early on and spend the following 9-10 weeks working on that. This means we have been learning more in-depth about technique and structure, etc. particularly via workshopping.”
  • “I feel like my writing has improved a lot in a year, but it is hard to see how much of this has come out of the course and how much is just natural development through practise and experience.”
  • “All that and I’m still not sure if I used the right kind of practise/practice there. Maybe a module on that?”
  • “This module’s emphasis has not been on exploring interesting or different techniques and methods of approaching writing, which I think is what I was expecting. This second year has been, on the whole, similar to the first year (especially in terms of exercises), but it has slowly developed into something more. This year’s workshops have been more effective by far anyway.”
  • “In my first year, I tended to prefer one Creative Writing tutor to others that took certain lectures/workshops. This was probably because she was very structured; we looked at different aspects of writing and/or devices each week, then spent part of the workshop putting what we’d leant into practice by writing. This charted my development as I could physically see what I had leant and how.”
  • “I prefer more structured, methodical approaches to loosely planned discussion. I like to know the objectives of each lecture to ensure I am learning whatever is being taught.”
  • “I began the course with a single idea for a book. Now, not only is that idea better, but I have several others – novels, short stories, poetry – a portfolio of writing for me to draw from and develop for what the course has taught me to be a difficult, but not impossible, goal of publication.”
  • “I try to pick modules from as wide a range as possible. I’m generally a prose writer but I don’t like to be a one trick pony. I used to write plays when I was younger so when a play-writing module came up I jumped at it. If I’ve got the skills to do that, then great. If not, then fine – at least I had a go.”
  • “Having done an introduction to screenwriting module in Year One, the scriptwriting module I’m currently undertaking hasn’t come like a bolt from the blue. Having participated in such a module in Year One, it is maybe easier to see the progression in the course than if I’d done something radically different, say Writing for Children.”
  • “If the first year was a strong breeze, sailing me along in the right direction, then I should definitely think of this second one as being unleashed into a whirlwind of ideas. It is a relief, I must say, for the module still retains the constructive prompts to keep it interesting, yet now allows total freedom. Though I must admit that now, knowing how daunting a writer’s career can be, it is a little offputting to think that that shall be me in a few years time. Still, life is a challenge after all, whichever path you take. So I say bring it on!”
  • “I look back on my work from a year ago and cringe – but I love that because it means my writing must be getting better. This course does benefit – I promise.”
2. Confidence / Challenge / Workshop
  • “I will say this though – writing passionately and being confident about presenting my work to people, does seem to give the impression I think I’m God’s gift to the course.  I do not feel this way at all. I simply appreciate what the course requires – so I’m not surprised or disgusted or scared when I have to do it.”
  • “I don’t tend to worry about reading my work out loud because I know I’m neither the best nor the worst, but it can be a little nerve-wracking reading your critiques of other people’s work because you know yourself how hard it can be to hear bad things about your ‘baby’ and you can feel pretty bad saying that to someone else. But I’m getting more used to that now, as the course continues.”
  • “Doing this course has given me more confidence in my writing but before I receive my marks back I still worry that it’s no good.”
  • “I often feel like my writing is not as good as others in my class when it comes to workshopping.”
  • “At first I found reading my work quite daunting, but over the course of the degree, I found it easier to read aloud. I do still feel that the criticism I get for my work is too vague, and I know I do the same to others. It is very difficult to go into specifics about what is good or not.”
  • “I found having my work critiqued daunting at first and sometimes upsetting but I always responded to criticism by re-writing the piece to the best of my ability and it has paid off. I now understand that it is the piece of work being critiqued, not me.”
  • “[Tutor]’s way of alternating class workshops and small group workshops works really well because people who are scared always prefer the smaller ones so they still get a chance.”
  • “I don’t mind reading my work aloud, or being criticised. Yet criticism can never be entirely true. One person may find a piece cliché, when another reader could read the same work and be enthralled. I also sometimes feel that the teaching is constrictive and so is the assessment. My biggest complaint would be the writer’s journal which we are forced to keep (worth 25%). What an utter waste of time.  I could use that 25% to produce something much more engaging than just a word processed plan.”
  • “I think everyone suffers a certain anxiety when workshopping their work but ultimately it serves a purpose and the analysis can only improve our work.”
  • “I’m not keen on reading out my work ….. actually I despise reading out my work in fear of being criticised as generally I feel that it’s not as good as others in the class.”
  • “Being made to write is frightening – fear of other people’s opinions makes it hard to write freely. I think everyone will laugh if I were to produce my work to them!  Ooops.”
  • “Count myself lucky to be able to write poetry, prose, scripts, etc, which are all from my own thoughts and ideas.”
  • “In regards to creative writing I feel more confident now reading out my work because everybody else has to. Sometimes it’s frustrating when my tutor talks about poets and writers I’ve never heard of. I’ve been told my writing is too emotional and abstract. That’s frustrating because I’m a scriptwriter and actor so that’s how I write. “
  • “Although the exercises seem like a waste, they help me to open myself up to other writers and explore other points of view.  With the mastering of such exercises comes a certain sense of confidence – I no longer fear the dreaded workshops and the scrutinous gaze of other writers. I look forward to having my work torn apart as it allows me to build upon it. I also now have found the courage to think about being a writer and not just an enthusiastic amateur or – the most dreaded – ‘a simple jotter’.”
  • “I enjoy writing, so my work for course is not a chore.  But when it comes to critiquing other people’s work, at times I lose the will to live. I know well that other people feel the same towards my work. I don’t mind reading my work or critiques out – serves them right!”
  • “The Creative Writing aspect of the course originally really scared me. I’ve never been an introvert but I just felt wrong letting strangers read something I made. Over the time I’ve been here my opinions have changed, and instead of apprehension as to what might be said, I approach workshops with an open mind to accept the compliments and criticisms openly.”
  • “I now relish the opportunity to have a roomful of people around about my standard to take apart and help reconstruct my work, making it as good as it can be.”
  • “I don’t worry about who is the best or who is the worst (although occasionally I like to reassure myself that I’m not at the lower end). At the end of the day, we’re all striving for the same goal and not really in competition with each other. The sooner I learned that the group was about helping each other, the easier it became to relax and write.”
  • “This course has helped me realise that I want to carry on writing as a career, particularly children’s writing.  Although I still find the idea of offering my work up for criticism daunting, I find the workshops very useful, especially as we can choose to do it as a class or in small groups.”
  • “My arm is numb. I seriously cannot move it properly. That’s preoccupying my thoughts right now.”
  • “But I’m to discuss writing.  More than anything I’d like to learn how to feel comfortable in my writing. To be able to execute exercises like this and do it for the love of writing of words.  But it’s so permanent. I love and hate that. It’s forever.  There’s an exercise that was recommended to me. Just to write up whatever came to mind and then throw it out and to do this daily. I have yet to try.”
Does it work?
I like creative writing because it allows me to share my work with people who are also passionate about writing. Therefore I know that their criticism is constructive and it helps me improve my work. However, I think that the module leader has a bit of influence on how much I will enjoy the class. If the module leader is passionate and sets good tasks for the class I am more likely to enjoy it.
As a mature student my desire for writing has grown strong over time. I am here because I really want this. I seem to need the structure and deadlines to keep me going, so I’m grateful for that. The first year felt a little slow, but I have really enjoyed the second. The classes are more focussed and I can see my writing has improved.  I’ve grown in confidence and even the process of writing feels easier and quicker these days.
The tutors are all experienced writers which shows in their knowledge and passion.  The feedback on work is always constructive, honest and well explained. The course is geared towards a future in professional writing but such ambitions do not need to be a pre-requisite.

Good points

  • The balance between reading material and creating material is done very well.
  • The exercises done within the class are usually very helpful, e.g. become more confident in contributing, sharing ideas, improving on weak aspects.
  • The duration of lessons is perfect – 2 hours is enough to get a lot of work done but also enough so writers don’t become tired near the end.
I think ultimately – although one can be taught structure and writing subtext, etc. – that the talent lies within the writer.  Although the course is useful and thoroughly enjoyable, probably one of the most important things is getting contacts within the business and learning the working process.  As far as being taught to write well, I think talent is a major factor to start off with.
I believe that writers are born not taught – schools and programs can only develop talent, an ability that is already present.
An MFA degree in Creative Writing is only as good as part of a credential to secure a teaching job at a university.
Writing programs free up time and space to write, not much else.
What can be taught in a creative writing program is the different elements of fiction, – putting them all together is an entirely different matter.
The best thing a creative writing program can offer is an open audience that offers honest critique and feedback of a student’s work.
I think it must be really difficult to try and teach creative writing because for me writing is very personal.  At first I hated having my work read out and it felt like I was being judged, but I realise now that getting feedback has really improved my writing, and people suggest things that would never have occurred to me.
I think one of my main problems is not necessarily to do with the course but more the university way of doing work.  At the moment, I have one lesson on a Friday and the rest of the time I’m expected to be doing work in my own time.  I find it hard to get motivated when sitting at home and prefer to be in uni more often with specific lessons to sit and write. That way I will have to do it.
I’m paying lots of money but I’m never in uni.
I don’t see why so many people have a problem with Creative Writing degrees.  The way I see it, it’s like an extended form of work experience in the same way you would hang around a garage if you wanted to be a mechanic to see how other people do it and learn from it.
I believe that a writing course should be disciplined exercise. In the same way that athletes go and work out, or practise their game, writers should be doing the same thing.
I’m not going to learn how to be a better writer by listening to a professor. I need to work it out for myself.
I look back on my work from a year ago and cringe – but I love that because it means my writing must be getting better.  This course does benefit – I promise.  I want nothing more than to be a writer and I’m lucky to be here.  Anyone who feels this is ‘Mickey Mouse’ is just bitter and scared of never getting rich or respected.   Writing something decent is hard but it’s worth learning how to do it.  XXX is also full of interesting people who inspire interesting characters.  You get out from it what you put in.
I sometimes find this course difficult as I don’t like being restricted to what I can write and how long I have to write it. I do think it will benefit me to do a project on writing a piece of T[heatre] I[n] E[ducation] script so I am prepared for when I leave university.  I have enjoyed Writing for Young People as our tutor, BBB , made the subject interesting and fun.
I’ve found that workshopping has been great sometimes and awful other times; it depends so much on the other students, the teacher and layout and also on my own work.
I feel that the course has improved my writing, partly because I’ve kept writing all the time, and partly because of the course itself.  I love doing the course and it’s helped me decide what I do (and don’t) want to do with my future.
Recalling from each other’s work isn’t always helpful, especially when people add things to your story that you never wrote.

I had no idea what to expect during the XXX fiction writing process.  I came into the program absolutely blind-folded other than knowing what I loved to do and that’s write fiction.  However, I was amazed by the process and how openminded the program was in allowing us as students to venture in the direction we preferred.  I must say if anything the energy projected in class has inspired me to become the best of my craft.  And I must say one thing that absolutely made me want to scream out loud to the top of my lungs was the semi-circle but I have later learned how the semi-circle strengthens sense of audience and has made me fear no audience beyond.

I really enjoy creative writing especially scriptwriting. Having written many scripts of different varieties in the past, this module helps me improve my skills.

I love the workshops. I feel like I’m working towards my folder all semester, rather than leaving it all to the end and dreading it, like history.
Writing is therapeutic and even if I don’t carry it on and be professional then I would still do it. I feel like I’ve achieved something when I’ve done a good piece of writing.
I think creative writing teaches many intangible skills but I wish the courses also taught more tangibly valuable skills such as copy editing and html or other web interface protocols.
Taking creative writing courses introduces me to different ideas about writing while also providing me with deadlines and otherwise spearheading my productivity.
At first I was embarrassed with some of the creative writing class exercises – I found them hokey and ‘touchy-feely’.  As I’ve gotten used to them, I now feel much more comfortable and participate enthusiastically.
Some workshops annoy me because I generally feel like I’ve gained no help in improving my writing.  Other times it helps me a great deal.  I think it depends how comfortable everybody is within the group at giving good constructive criticism.
Generally I enjoy the course but I feel that sometimes the exercises that we are asked to do are not beneficial to me as I feel I write better and have more ideas when I am alone and in a creative mood. However, I do find that lectures are a prompt, a way of giving me ideas of what to write about.
I feel that sometimes the workshops are a waste of time and that we would be better off having CW taught to us more like an English degree so there are less silly exercises and we get a better understanding of the texts we are studying and in turn improve our writing.
I understand that the course has to have deadlines and workshops, but I fear that it may stifle my creativity.  I’m used to writing for myself and in my own time and so often find it difficult to allocate specific time frames for writing like I would for another module assignment.  My ideas for writing have to come naturally – that’s how they are my most creative – not forced.
Although I really do enjoy the course, I find I have very little time to write anything that isn’t course-orientated.  Now my time is taken up with reading texts and emulating their style rather than developing my own style.
I’m not really sure how much I’ve leant on the course so far.  I did some work on poetry last year which I hadn’t done before, but I haven’t continued with it because I didn’t think it was ‘me’.  I did a lot of writing for myself over the summer which I felt helped more.  Being expected to produce X amount of words by a certain date is a bit offputting; either I’m uninspired or I’m too inspired and go over the word limit.  We don’t really do enough work on extended pieces, just add little bits and pieces which are just sort of shoved to one side after assessment rather than being something to develop.
Previous to starting this course, I used to love writing freely and expressively in my own time.  Whenever I was at a loose end, or felt inspired to write, I simply would!  Now that I HAVE to write, I almost fight against it. I think it is my subconscious rebelling against the ‘authority’ over the tasks I have been given.  What I do now is to convince myself, that I am writing for me and just me, and ten minutes into my writing I am on a roll and can’t seem to stop, and so am writing freely and expressively again.
I like the fact that we are encouraged to write in whatever way we like – to develop our own voices and our own narrative techniques.  I’m sure it can be tempting for teachers to lay down general rules and give examples of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ writing.  This isn’t the case – the emphasis is on individuality, and I have been struck by just how diverse the group is. I haven’t read or heard two styles of writing the same.
Creativity is such an abstract thing to quantify.  All you can do is provide a stimulating environment.  I would like the course to be more structured to, for example, closely examine some good quality prose/poetry – then being given a related exercise, with everyone coming together to read their pieces at the end.  This would give the group a chance to be influenced by great writers and by each other.
This course allows you to find what you enjoy as a writer.  For example I took scriptwriting not knowing if it was suited to me.  Once I did it, I discovered it wasn’t for me.  But in the same semester I did Towards Publication and loved it.  Going on to Into Print it helped me to discover my passion for music journalism.
For once in my life I feel like I’m surrounded by people that understand what I’m trying to do.  Most of us have the same goals and it has been extremely inspiring for me.
So far the most important thing that I have been able to gain from the creative writing courses are ideas I have given at least a little time to.  Before, if I had an idea and couldn’t think of where it was going, I put it aside.  Now, I give each idea at least a few pages just to see where it’s going.
Getting a degree in creative writing will push me further to pursuing my writing career.
The module has helped me, although at times I fail to realise that. It has made me both confident and more adventurous as a writer. I find myself writing about both the surreal and the banal, the comedic and the tragic.  Although the exercises seem like a waste, they help me to open myself up to other writers and explore other points of view.
Writing is always a pleasure and I see weekly sessions positively even though I cannot imagine how the workshop provides concrete training for writers.  Being only the first term of the course, I expect the next to be more intense, and more techniques (of editing, revision, rewriting, etc.) introduced, some of them as in-class exercises.  One fear of mine is that I might walk away at the end of the sessions still unsure how I can become a writer or that I am good enough to be one.  How, for instance, do writers find publishers?  What is involved in that?  If I were to find a job as a writer, am I confident in saying that I am trained to write in a number of genres, style and purposes to be truly versatile?
Sometimes criticism is not as useful as it could be.  Often we are told what’s wrong but not how to improve it.
4. Creative writing, English and other subjects

a) English

I do English and Creative Writing and I feel that my modules benefit each other.  All the texts that I have read and studied have influenced my work in other modules in one way or another, whether it be in terms of style or content.  This may be clever planning of the module co-ordinators but in all I have found all of my degree very helpful and beneficial overall.
I do like the unity between the English and Creative Writing modules…I have found several of the texts I have read would cross over between the two courses.
The CW degree is not as academic as English but much more enjoyable.  The work we have to do is interesting and sometimes as challenging as any English module.
I often feel like writing majors are failed English majors. It’s a way of being connected to the literature without having to be critical of it or think analytically about it.
Because creative writing is such a new subject, compared to other more established subjects like English, it is still finding its feet. The way it is taught varies greatly from module to module and lecturer to lecturer.  I feel that sometimes the workshops are a waste of time and that we would be better off having CW taught to us more like an English degree so there are less silly exercises and we get a better understanding of the texts we are studying and in turn improve our writing.
The course balances well with my English Literature because it’s something I enjoy working at.  It’s as rewarding as the amount of work you put into it….I don’t feel I’m improving when I only spend a short amount of time on a piece.
There seems to be no unity between the main English course and the Creative Writing course, but I’m not sure that’s necessary.  It’s probably better if the one does not interfere with the other.
I think that taking Creative Writing as part of an English degree has been useful, as the more you read the better you write, and the more ‘traditional’ English modules encourage wide reading.
In fact, creative writing gives a nice balance to literature courses and is extremely motivating for those of us who have an ambition to write.
English with Creative Writing is, I think, ideal.  The former promotes reading, which in turn informs my writing.  How can I not be affected by absolutely everything I experience? I don’t expect my work to immediately resemble whatever particular subject I’ve just been studying, but it surely manifests itself somehow.
Whereas English can (sometimes) be quite rigid,  what with overt classification (the Romantic, the Structuralists, etc.) and almost scientific theory (Marxism, Post-Modernism and so on), Creative Writing can prove liberating.  Sometimes, when writing essays in English, it feels I am conforming to a set system, whereas when I sit down to write at the blank canvas, it’s a challenge.
The reason I chose Creative Writing is simply because I have a passion for English and a passion for writing but I genuinely did everything to avoid English Literature.  I did this at A-level and the experience utterly destroyed the subject for me.
I had no interesting spending another 3 years dissecting and deconstructing classic works of literature, umm-ing and aah-ing over every comma and semi-colon in Shakespeare.
I love Shakespeare – I want to enjoy it as it was intended – as a play, a complete work, and not chopped up into bits.  So, with a love for writing (and an ambition to write professionally) Creative Studies seemed an ideal choice, and having experimented with it in the form of electives in the first year, I enjoyed it hugely and so switched to Joint Honours.
This semester I have prioritised my English work as that was where I felt pressure.  Last semester the balance between the two subjects was better preserved.  I think that I have learnt a great deal from this course, but I was an absolute beginner with a lot to learn.  It has also given me a different insight into the texts I study in English, although this can sometimes be too cynical and not literary enough.
The reason I chose XXX was because of the Creative Writing even though I didn’t know what to expect.  I wish I had more time to spend on creative writing as Eng Lit does take over, not because it’s more important but because it’s so hard to get a grasp on and there’s so much of it. If I didn’t do CW, I would have dumped my degree ages ago.[This] writing course has actually started convincing me that I can and do have the potential to become a published writer.  It isn’t beyond my capabilities – I love it!!
I have also taken modules in English Literature and in comparison, I find the creative work much more interesting and fun (though not any less work) and the creative writing students always seem much more enthusiastic about their subject, myself included!
I think creative writing is best kept separate from English as it gives more freedom.
I’m glad I’m not doing a straight English degree as it would just stress me!
I want to do purely Creative Writing, rather than a joint degree with English but that’s all that is available.
If I could, I would have not done a combined degree – I’m only really at university for creative writing.
My only gripe is having to endure an English module in order to do Single Honours Creative Writing!!?!
I prioritise my English degree modules over the single Creative Writing module that I do, simply because I regard it as more important and the workload is greater.

(b) Drama, Film and Media

I find creative writing undoubtedly the most interesting and enjoyable part of my joint degree with Film Studies. At first people took the mickey out of me for it, but now they’ve realised I’m serious about this.
I love the combined aspects of drama and writing for drama all rolled into one on this course, thinking someday, hopefully, I could be writing and starring in my own play/show gives me a serious ambition to succeed.
I think the scriptwriting and drama course has been good but not particularly well managed. There was a lot of drama in the first year and now hardly any.
The only thing that bothers me on the course is the analysing film theory aspect.  This is something I do not want to do.
I enjoy scriptwriting in relation to drama as I would like to use both of these aspects in my future career.  However, there are modules of the degree which seem out of place and have nothing to do with scriptwriting.  It is here I feel lacklustre and unmotivated, therefore failing to obtain the highest possible marks in areas I am seriously uninterested in.
It is hard to sum up my experience of the course so far as it has been so varied.  We have had film plus English type modules as well as our input from the drama side of the degree.  I like the fact that the modules are very different from each other and don’t really relate to each other in terms of style and content.  It gives me inspiration from different places.
Personally, being dyslexic, writing is a constant battle, but I am finding it easier and like the challenge.
I came to university to focus on a media degree but quickly discovered I had more enjoyment out of the creative writing part. I know I will never be a writer but the creative writing course has given me more confidence in all my written work and opened up my imagination which has helped the media side of my degree.  Doing creative writing combined with media has been very beneficial but I would never make a career from a creative writing degree alone.  Well, I don’t think I could at this point.

(c) Psychology

I don’t see myself becoming a professional writer, and prefer to write as a means of recreation – as such, therefore, I see the Creative Writing part of my degree as enjoyable light relief from reading boring essays on  psychoanalysis etc!!!

(d) History

[Creative Writing] proves a wonderful release after the more staid approach of History.
People do look down on ‘Creative Writing’ because it doesn’t sound as academic.  I do History as well and even though I’m not as good at it I feel like I can’t give it up.
I have enjoyed the course immensely.  I have always had a passion for literature and writing, and even though my major is History, I feel that any practice which can bring a greater association, comfort, familiarity and appreciation for the marvellous tool that is the English language is an enterprise well worth pursuing.
I am doing a joint degree with Creative Writing and History, which involves four modules in each subject a year, two set and two optional.  I like the variety this mix offers me, as I feel I would get tired of doing a single subject for three years.

(e) Art

Combining Creative Writing with Art in the BA Creative Arts module has meant that one has inspired the other and proved that the two work together well.
I’m actually an Art student (on exchange) but creative writing is a similar endeavour in the way of critiques, expression, and post-graduation careerlessness. I feel like here, I don’t have enough time to really think on my work, re-write it or revise it, because I’m in an English and an Art course; my brain is trying to generate too many different types of ideas to focus (not to mention I’m usually holed up in my room too wired on coffee trying to write, jittery and scatter-brained).  It is also hard for me in this particular course – short fiction – for I am a poet, and poems don’t have to have plot-lines or proper syntax;  they’re allowed to be a lot trippier, flowing and cryptic (like my mind works).
5. Creative Writing - an easy option?

When I tell people that I study Creative Writing at university, they always ask me what exactly do I actually do….which frustrates me because I don’t think that many people realise how challenging it is.

Many of my friends have the opinion that Creative Writing is a ‘doss’ degree, and to a certain extent I agree, as compared to other subjects, say teaching, it is a darn site easier.

People do look down on ‘Creative Writing’ because it doesn’t sound as academic.  I do history as well and even though I’m not as good at it I feel like I can’t give it up… People think CW has less work because I always get it done quicker than their other subjects, but of course I do – it’s what I’m good at and it’s what I enjoy – you always find stuff easy if you enjoy it.
I do find that people regard Creative Writing as a bit of a dosser’s subject but I don’t let it bother me.  I am really enjoying my degree – I love writing so this is both a challenge and fun.  I find workshopping helpful – so long as people aren’t too nice.  I get a little nervous – but not terrified!
I often find that there are two types of people who take creative writing courses.  There are people passionate about writing how would like a serious career. Then there are people who see it as some form of diversion in the absence of actual direction. These are the people who don’t turn in writing every week or participate in class. To me if you don’t turn in 100 pages of story per semester then find a new major.
One worry of both myself and my parents is that creative writing will not be recognised as a mainstream literary subject, and therefore, I may have to do another degree in English.
Sometimes, especially now that I am approaching graduation, my mother will subtly try to hint at what I may or may not be able to do with a degree in writing, then finally ask me, flat out, what I plan to do, or if I have a plan at all.  I’ll overhear technical majors and education majors gloat over their sound decisions in what they chose to study, and how they can do what majors like myself do, whenever they desire to focus on it. The scariest part about it is, as infuriating as it is, I don’t know if they are wrong.
I do feel as though I am slacking from time to time, since I don’t really have any exams throughout the semester; however, I am always writing and always turning in ample amounts of work.  As for the classes themselves, there are things I would change, but overall I have had a satisfactory experience in creative writing.  I think we are pushed rather hard to write as much as we can, even though the only one who can make us write is ourselves.
A degree in Creative Writing is an easy thing to bullshit your way through. I suppose it is unique from other degrees because its value is so much dependent on what you as a student are willing to put into it. Many other pursuits seem to be about learning about the world around you whereas writing seems to put more demand on learning things about yourself, your process. In this way all the demand is put on you as a student, with the instructors acting more as guides than teachers.
I love the creative writing module and I don’t see how it should be any less challenging than any other course such as Law or Science.  It irritates me how it’s perceived as a lesser subject.  My boyfriend studies Law at Southampton and when people (namely his relatives) enquire what we are both studying, he often receives a pat on the back whilst I get a pat on the head and raised eyebrows.
I think that those outside of my course don’t understand how difficult it is to perfect the craft of interesting writing – writing which people will want to publish and read.
Creative writing doesn’t get taken as a very serious degree.  When people introduce me and tell people what my course is, they always say, ‘She does English’. I have to correct them and bring the Creative Writing up myself. Why should it not be called ‘Creative Writing and English Literature’?

I would have to agree that people seem to almost look down on Creative Writing – I know people who call it the ‘Mickey Mouse’ part of my degree.  But I don’t especially care, because it’s something I enjoy doing very much, so no-one else’s opinion matters.  Besides, it can be hard work sometimes!  Writing to a particular theme, or a deadline can be challenging, but fun, and can broaden our range of writings.

I think the set tasks help improve writing because you are forced to write something in a genre/subject with which you are not comfortable. If forces you to think outside of your box and therefore tests your ability to WRITE, not just your ability to write about some thing with which you are familiar and comfortable.

Creative writing can seem a daunting choice because it’s so difficult to get published.  In our first year, we are told in our lecture that probably one of us in that room will become a published writer. Therefore, it’s easy to lose hope.
I appreciate these weekly sessions of bringing my own work to share with my classmates, and listening to their versions of writing experience.  The course has been relaxed which takes pressure off considerably.  In fact, creative writing gives a nice balance to literature courses and is extremely motivating for those of us who have an ambition to write.
Writing on demand can be difficult.  Knowing that I’ve got to write 2000 words a week can be rather scary and when you have absolutely no inspiration it’s easy to get in a flap.  You just have to remind yourself that if you are a professional writer, you will be writing on demand all the time.
The creative writing courses are all to do with what you want to get out of them.  I personally have learned to utilise my time and hone my thought process so that I always have a chance to write through the week.  Creative Writing has helped make a hobby more habitual, and allowed me to dedicate more time to something I truly enjoy doing.  It has bettered me as a writer, and given me numerous possibilities for further developments and ambitions.
I’m only here for this one semester.  I’m an exchange student from America.  Compared to home, this is an extremely easy course load.  I’m an English major with a focus on writing at home, and am expected to write multiple things each week, along with usually some sort of portfolio.  And that’s only for one writing class!  The English classes are full of reading, usually a lot, and multiple analytical papers.  It seems that things at home are more focussed on the “English” aspect, which seems similar to here, judging by the comments.
6. Why do Creative Writing? A career in mind? Self development?
I joined creative writing course because of a speech made on the Open Day by one of the lecturers. It made me see creative writing as an art and I’ve always wanted to be more artistic.
The reason I chose Creative Writing is simply because I have a passion for English and a passion for writing but I genuinely did everything to avoid English Literature.  I did this at A-level and the experience utterly destroyed the subject for me.
I chose to do CW a long time ago, when I was confused about what I wanted to do with my life, and was panicking; thinking I should just get on and go to uni.  Sometimes I feel that it’s not really for me. I like writing but I find that doing it to a deadline/on demand, and analysing it all so much often feels like it takes the pleasure out of it.
I also feel that I don’t really have much ambition as a writer. Trying to get published sounds like such a struggle and it’s really off-putting.
However, I realise that not everyone feels like this, and that workshopping etc. are important things that are going to equip those who do want to get published.
The teachers are always enthusiastic and I think that those who are ambitious in this field get a really good support network by being on the course.
As a mature student my desire for writing has grown strong over time.  I am here because I really want this.
Creative Writing is something which is definitely within me and by doing this course it has encouraged me to ‘get it out’.
When I first started the course, I wanted to be a freelance author but a lot of stress was put on how difficult it would be to become one.  However, they were realistic about how much self motivation one would need – some were still encouraging.
I don’t want to be a writer – I want to be a teacher, but there is still plenty I can take from this degree to help me succeed in that.
I enjoy creative writing as a pastime.  I often feel like my writing is not as good as others in my class when it comes to workshopping.  I don’t want to become a professional writer but I would like to do some scriptwork with children.  This is because I would like to become a teacher.
 Creative writing is a vocation – rather like nursing is, but with less money and more drugs.
I’ve learnt a lot about the publishing industry which will help me if I choose to write professionally or with a career in publishing. I’m glad that I’ve done this course because it is helping me to go that little bit further with my writing.  I’m one step closer to my dream of writing a novel.  Whether it gets published is up to the publishing world.  I’m not too sure how bothered I am.
 I chose creative writing as my elective and hadn’t written for years. I continued it into the second year because I found that I had some ability and started to feel a possible career opening up.
Creative writing wasn’t my priority when I came to university.  I knew that I liked writing but it was one of those things that I never truly considered as a career.  I have to be honest that I was quite happy when I discovered the writing courses that my institution had to offer. To meet, work with, and get feedback from people who were writers was invaluable and also proved to me that creativity can bring success, not just a life tied together with string and broken hopes.  Although I suppose that would be something interesting to write about. When I finish, I want to use my degree.
[This] writing course has actually started convincing me that I can and do have the potential to become a published writer.  It isn’t beyond my capabilities – I love it!!
I know more than ever before that I want to be a writer.
I’m not sure if a degree in writing was a good life choice.  It makes for a good hobby but isn’t really practical.
Coming towards the end of the second year now, I am starting to worry about what I’ll be doing when I leave. I have a horrible feeling that I’ll have to work full time in a call centre or something like that so I have a regular income and writing will just be something I enjoy doing in my spare time.
I think that my degree has to be good for something. I’m sure I’ll have a job somewhere making decent money. The thing I like most, though, is that this is also my hobby, well one of them, and I can do it as long as I am living. So, I am not only going to school but I am having fun doing it, and that’s why it is worth it.  If I did something I didn’t enjoy then it wouldn’t be as important to me.
The writing is good, I mean, can you think of a better way to dodge tax than to have people listen to your views and opinions about any subject you choose. The writing degree is anything you make of it – currently I guess I’m studying for a degree in elaborate dick and fart jokes.
The main reason I decided to do a creative writing degree was to try and develop my writing to a higher standard.  Especially my scriptwriting, which is my favourite form of writing and what I consider my strongest writing.  Currently I am writing a sitcom and when it’s finished I will send it to various channels.  I have written already one sitcom called [name] – the synopsis was accepted by Channel Four but the script rejected.  I know my writing is good and I will continue with my scripts until I break  into stage, film, radio or television because I have to, because  if I don’t become a scriptwriter what am I supposed to be?
I have enjoyed the scriptwriting side of my course. In these two years I have learned how to write in various different styles and genres. I appreciate the importance of scriptwriting as it allows you to find your own voice and to use it to project your opinions/viewpoints on the world. To me, I feel that acting is merely a craft. To be a scriptwriter makes you an artist
In the entertainment industry, you are more likely to succeed if you can multi-task.  This is why I felt doing a joint degree would be beneficial to me.
I still don’t know what I want to do, and to be honest, I can’t imagine myself as a professional writer as I’m not disciplined enough. I think that is the hardest thing about the course – no matter how many times I am told to plan in advance and set time aside, I still end up rushing everything at the last minute.
I write because I cannot keep myself from writing. Therefore, it seemed that an attempt to make a career out of anything else would be an exercise in futility.
 As soon as I saw the Scriptwriting module I knew I had to do it; my dream is to write film scripts or play scripts and feel any further knowledge or experience I can get in the area will do nothing but benefit me.
I enjoy telling stories so creative writing seemed the perfect choice.  Over time, however, I’ve discovered that prose writing wasn’t really my best field. Script writing, however, has given me a great opportunity to express myself and I thoroughly enjoy the module.

Bad points:

  • Perhaps more emphasis or an odd lesson on career-based activities would be useful as I feel I need a sense of direction with this course.
One fear of mine is that I might walk away at the end of the sessions still unsure how I can become a writer or that I am good enough to be one. How, for instance, do writers find publishers?  What is involved in that?  If I were to find a job as a writer, am I confident in saying that I am trained to write in a number of genres, style and purposes to be truly versatile?
Not sure where it will lead to jobwise or if publishers want this degree, or if it is all based on merit or ability anyway.
If I could, I would have not done a combined degree – I’m only really at university for creative writing.  Having done a year, I’m not entirely sure how beneficial a creative writing course is to becoming a published writer.  I definitely have learnt valuable things about the writing industry, though, the main one being how hard it is to succeed.  I have no regrets though – I wouldn’t want a day job.
I don’t necessarily want to become a writer.  I take creative writing with Drama and it is my aim to become a secondary Drama and English teacher.  One worry of both myself and my parents is that creative writing will not be recognised as a mainstream literary subject, and there, I may have to do another degree in English.
After twelve years of working in a series of unfulfilling jobs it is nothing short of a complete pleasure to spend my days in seminars and workshops devoted to an art that I love: Creative Writing.  Like all degree courses, it is specialised and therefore not for everyone, but also teaches you skills that will be useful no matter what your post-degree course endeavours turn out to be – skills such as presentation, (aural), time management and independent study/work.
I have found myself through writing. I mean, for a long time I didn’t want to admit that I was a writer rather someone who can write. Through this class I have found what it is that I live for, to tell stories.  I am a writer.
Exercising creativity has helped me keep my sanity.  If there weren’t any creative writing courses, I would have quit school a long time ago.
My expectations for this class:  to create, to explore, to challenge myself, to find myself and to learn.  Expectations met.
My eyes have been opened to many things as each classmate is TOTALLY different in their storytelling. I never expected this really, to be this different, amazing.
I wouldn’t say the creative writing course has developed me as a person in any way, but it has given me perspective.  Prior to this course the only creative writing I’d ever done was a little bit at GCSE (although my History A-level paper was fairly creative I suppose…..). This is the first time I’ve ever shown people my work so before this I worried about whether it was any good/how it ranked amongst others.  As it turns out, I don’t feel as though I’ll ever be bottom of the class, but at the same time, dreams of being a published novelist by my 21st birthday have receded.  Perhaps that’s significantly more useful than assuming my work will be enough to make me a millionaire.
I feel very passionately about writing in general and especially my own writing.  For the life of me I can’t grasp what the people who write negative comments are talking about. Their logic, confusion, fear or utter disdain for the course baffles me. Writing to me is more than just something you do, it’s an act of self reflection, you put yourself down on paper.  I have the goal to be published but I don’t feel everyone has that goal  – some people are just not as determined, not incapable, just not of the same mindset – the yearning I have to professionally do what I love isn’t felt throughout the class – to them I wonder why bother?
I wonder, am I a bad writer? (but I wouldn’t know what else to do).
Level Three

A sense of realism persists into Level Three, with some polarisation among students: some are confirmed or convinced in their determination to publish in full knowledge of the difficulties, while others have realised that writing is not for them – though they may well have identified other, possibly related directions for a career. Many students refer to the growing (and sometimes scary) freedom of the final undergraduate year, where self-direction is essential. It is perhaps significant that the topical division of responses is most artificial at this level: students seem able to write quickly and comprehensively, covering a range of issues, showing increasing eloquence and grasp of the course, and how it relates to them and their aspirations.

1. Progression / Why do Creative Writing?/ A career in mind?
Creative Writing 3rd year.  That is one hell of a scary thought!  Having spent much of years one and two absent for various reasons, this year has somewhat leaped up and bitten me on the nose.  However, I am LOVING the freedom I now have: I can write the sort of prose I enjoy, not have to fork out a social-realism piece or a sonnet.  I don’t do poetry!  All hail terrifying year three and its freedom!  I can’t imagine having done a course other than this one!
I have come to university later than normal.  I’m 26 and knew quite clearly that I wished to work hard at pursuing a career in writing!
I set out with the course thinking that I’d like to become a professional writer. The course has taught me that I don’t have it in me. Although I get good grades, after the course is over I’ll probably stick with the Eng. Lit. side if I go into further education.
I took a creative writing degree as I wanted to do something I am good at and enjoy.  Since then I’ve found out that I’m not all that good at writing, and I don’t always enjoy it either. However, luckily for me, the degree has been flexible enough for me to try out other aspects of creative writing, such as feature journalism, film making and enterprise.  I feel now that, although I don’t fit in with the bulk of work done within the department, I’ve got the most out of my degree; and I feel (almost) ready to tackle a career.
But then I’ve always got my ‘hard’ subject, sociology (ha!), to fall back on.
I came to do a creative writing degree as a professional qualification.  However, without the English Lit. part of my joint major, I believe it would be near worthless.  Without a career, I’ll feel like I’ve failed.
When I had to choose a course at the end of sixth form, I was at a bit of a loss but creative writing was the subject that appealed to me the most.
Now that I’ve spend three years doing this course I realise that becoming a published writer would be my ideal situation I’d like to find myself in but will not be the be all and end all of my life. Creative Writing has taught me a lot about myself and I feel through sharing and learning to take criticism, I have hardened myself against things to come after uni.
On intention – I am in this writing program with the very concrete purposes of writing better, publishing more, and furthering my teaching career.
I started this course because I wanted to write professionally.  I was OK at it before, on an amateur level, but I have definitely improved during my time here.  We’ve read some great things and some ‘less great’ things and what hasn’t been enjoyable in its own right has been entertaining to talk about with others of ‘my kind’. Whether I ever get paid for it or not, I will always think of myself as a writer.  It does sometimes seem like we are writing what the lecturers want us to write, but I do feel that there is more freedom this year to write our own thing and find our own voices.
When I first wrote in the first year of university, my writing was more comical and less professional.  By the second year, I wrote on serious themes as I found my writing reflected a personal change I had undergone throughout my time at university.  Even though I didn’t choose to do my dissertation on creative writing, I feel writing has made me think differently but also gave me a chance to express certain emotions.
My school teachers consistently told me that I had potential as a writer.  I’ve always enjoyed it and it’s come naturally. However, my degree course has convinced me that it will not be a career. Instructors who are also writers have stressed how difficult it is rather than how to go about doing it professionally (with the exception of XXX, who makes the profession sound like a walk in the park).
I hate to sound incredibly jaded but I feel it all boils down to money.  It’s why we’re ‘embarrassed’ to admit we do Creative Writing.  It’s why I respond ‘journalism!’ when asked what subject I do. Let’s face it, if writers made steady, high salaries, there’d be no stigma on our degree. As it is I’m afraid of becoming a starving artist.
That being said, I still love to write and it’s the only thing I’m half-decent at – so what’s a gal to do?
It’s been a journey in the least clichéd manner possible.  I look back at my stories of year one and cringe, but looking at the poetry I’ve now got the skills to pick out the heart and put it in another piece and make it alive as it was meant to be.  Don’t just write what you know: learn through your writing else the imagination has nothing to do and you’re not moving.  I found it important to just keep going – I had a real block in my second year, but the deadlines forced me to come up with stuff I’d never normally consider submitting, and it taught me to try out new voices.
By now I feel that the course has greatly helped improve my own creative work.  Looking back there is a marked increase in quality and length of my creative work since the first year, improved by the skills and abilities I have learned and honed on the course.  Workshopping has become more prevalent and more important, and it also vastly more useful now than it was in the first year.  The course has improved my writing ability, and taught me a new-found sense of confidence in sharing writing with others.  The freedom given for creative work in year three is a massive step on from the first two years, but also an incredibly enjoyable one.
I have always loved writing for pleasure, but since starting the course I find it increasingly hard to get started.  When we have explored styles which were unfamiliar – such as ‘the fantastic’ – writing seemed impossible.  However the start of this third year has ‘turned the corner’.  We are now given more of a free hand to explore and develop our own preferred style. So my desire to write has returned and it’s no longer the chore that it felt last year. I cannot say that I feel any more confident with my work (especially in workshopping), but I have learnt a lot along the way.  The three years have been a rollercoaster of a journey, but not one which I regret taking.  I shall certainly miss XXX when I leave.
I have always loved writing and this seemed the ideal course for me.  All the other boring modules studying two-thousand-year-old poetry aside, I was surprised how much fun the creative writing modules have been, and the standard of my fellow writers has been high.  I can’t wait to be able to make a living writing imaginatively rather then some nine-to-five job.
There is (was) no good reason for me to enrol in creative writing courses, since I already had a good career, which I liked. But through a series of events – good karma, as I call it – I landed in this program. I always had plenty to say, but now I suddenly had a way to say it.  Keeping a journal was an assignment, at first.  Now it is my obsession. It is where all my ideas land and, without fear or guilt, I can turn them into anything. The fiction writing program has changed the way I look at things.
I feel that the first and second years were too focussed on teaching us to write in a particular way in order to achieve a good grade. It is sometimes stifling to be told how to write – you either have it or you don’t. The third year has offered more freedom through the dissertation. However, the restrictions placed on what genre we can write is completely unnecessary and detrimental to the whole concept of ‘creativity’ in the writing.
I think that doing this course has made me think more seriously about writing as a career.  If nothing else, it has taught me how to take and use creative criticism, which can only be a good thing.
The most useful thing I have encountered over this Creative Writing course is the opportunity to have my writing workshopped.  Over the course of the last three years, I have found the advice and criticism I received in workshop sessions to be the thing that has most helped me to develop as a writer.  I think it is important for any developing writer to have their work read by peers and published writers so that they can receive feedback.
I always knew I wanted to write.  Though I was never quite sure in what area or career it was going to be in.  I spent the first two years in college tiptoeing round the idea that I should pursue creative writing.  I think it was because I was terrified of reading my work aloud – I always think I’m the weakest writer only because I was told to write what I know.  I don’t like writing my own life down.  That’s what I like about fiction – I can make up a reality that’s better than the one I live in.
No one believes I’m in writing.  They think it’s an English degree or Journalism.  Everyone always asks what I intend to do with it.  Well, I want to write – why else would I be spending an arm and a leg and my first born child in order to pay for it.
I still don’t like reading my work out loud.  It freaks me out that no one will hear the story over the sound of my nervous voice cracking and shaking through each line.
When I tell people I’m a Fiction Major, they’re like “What are you gonna do with that?”  At first I didn’t know – I just knew I loved to write – but after taking the Freelance and Publishing classes (which are electives but I think should be required) I could tell them that I wanted to write for magazines and publish novels and memoirs, and it was no longer an abstract idea.  I knew how I would pursue it.
I have been forced to write in genres that I previously never thought I would like, but I have been pleasantly surprised to develop a greater appreciation for such genres, particularly romance which I was never a big fan of.
I am now desperately clinging to screenwriting as my last life-vest, the safety vehicle that might guide me not only out of university, but through a reasonably decent grade.
Creative writing isn’t ambiguous as long as you listen carefully and keep on writing.  I used to get frustrated when I wasn’t able to write a story out of thin air because I was worried that it meant that writing wasn’t fun anymore.  But work can be exciting as well, when you worry less about trying to sound intellectual, then you can really enjoy yourself.
At the start of the third year, I felt that should have more of a bang and set deadlines.  I would prefer more writing, less talking. However I do feel confident about my writing and I can see that I will have a future, writing novels or poetry. The moment of realisation came when I joined the writing groups outside of the university. When reading and listening to this group’s work with their over use of words and double meanings and their style of writing demonstrated to me how far I had come since starting the course.  It is good that you are encouraged to write in different style and approach subject matter in different way, this make for lateral thinking strengths your imagination.  The course opens you up to your emotions.
I am less confident with my writing now, as tutor feedback has proved detrimental to my progression.  I find the writing modules slow and frustrating.  I thought I would be a good writer one day, now I just think I will finish my degree bitter and slightly twisted.
Having one tutor praise your work and then another almost failing you when marking it, suggests to me that it isn’t what your write but who you are writing for.  I will continue to write but for me only and I feel a completely new career path will have to be chosen.  I haven’t given up hope though.
It has never been my intention to make a career out of writing.  It has been and will always be a hobby for me.  The course has allowed me to be more disciplined and has made it more enjoyable.  Education has become fun.
My English teacher at school was fantastic and he inspired to me become a writer.  There have been moments when I feel my work hasn’t been as good as that which I produced at school and I questioned whether it was me or the lecturers.  But my writing has definitely improved dramatically in many ways (on the whole).  Without being on this course my voice would have fallen by the wayside and been smothered by the tangled overgrowth of life.  Instead it has been gently nurtured and has blossomed.  Regardless of the fact I dislike having to do poetry – cause it never really works.  I’m sure it has helped my prose descriptions.  In general a great experience.
Coming towards the end of the creative writing degree, I feel that the course has really worked for me.  I have been encouraged to experiment, whilst always being given support in my preferred genre.  The first workshop session was a horrible embarrassment, but as everyone is thrown into it together, a group dynamic forms.  In the best creative writing groups you feel a real desire to help everyone achieve their own goals as well as follow your own.  I don’t see myself as a professional writer yet, more of a dabbler.  However, writing is something that I will always do and who knows, when I’m an old lady in purple, maybe I’ll read the grandkids my published novels.
2. Confidence / Is it working?
Creative writing has asked me to be self-disciplined and focussed which I am not. In this way it has matured me greatly whilst also making me view English Literature from a completely different perspective.
The course has improved my writing ability, and taught me a new-found sense of confidence in sharing writing with others.
I have been taking writing courses for over a year now and I still wonder if I am doing OK.  Every week that I bring a piece of my writing in, I cringe at the thought of it being read out loud.  As it’s being read, my stomach churns and I am so nervous – but then it’s over and strangely enough, I usually feel pretty good about it.
The course has challenged everything that I thought I knew about creative writing, forcing me to grow as a writer.
On choosing to take classes – I came to a specific university because of their unique pedagogy.  I’ve had writing classes in several kinds of writing programs, and I often felt that classes tore me apart instead of giving me practical tools, the most important of which is confidence.  So when I found a program so different from my past experiences, and a pedagogy that fits me so well, I enrolled.
I have definitely enjoyed the course – it has helped me relate to which genres of writing in which I work best, and my ability with technical details has improved through reading peers’ work in the workshops.  I have got to know a lot of interesting people over three years and seen how their writing has grown.
I think we’d sometimes benefit from being forced out of our comfort zones, eg. having to do interviews or write in a romance genre.  That might stretch us more.
On the whole, I find the course interesting and helpful, but not a deciding factor in my skills as a writer.  I think the amount of work we are required to do (and the resulting amount of feedback) is not enough to make a major difference.  Still, I did learn a number of things that will be of use to me in the future – I just wish there was more.
I have enjoyed the course because in the full units which run for the two terms you can explore your own projects and ideas without being told what to do, and in the half units which are for a term I have studied genres intensively (short fiction, poetry, non-fiction, long fiction).  In short, the flexibility is good.
I feel I have learned plenty of tools and skills.  Before I came to uni I just used to write but now I think about it as well.
The more you put in the more you get back.
I think the moment I had to produce a piece of creative work for a workshop I knew I wasn’t a writer, especially if my work was the last to be looked at because I just felt out of my league. I feel that I write just enough to pass the course and for that reason alone.
I didn’t grow up wanting to be a writer so there is this part of me that feels highly unqualified as I sit in my writing classes.  I have not read many of the great writers that people who grew up wanting to write have read.  I feel as though I am trying to catch up and constantly prove that I can write.
My main concern with creative writing before starting this course was confidence.  In specific areas my confidence has improved and I am prepared to experiment more with forms I find uncomfortable.  This in turn has improved my ability and has helped me find the areas of creative writing that I am most interested in.
Before uni, I wrote a lot on my own.  The workload quickly took that away from me, and now, over two years later, I’ve lost a lot of confidence in my prose work, and a lot of, shall I say, raw, unmanaged talent.
Having been in a workshop for two years now, I sometimes still feel absolutely helpless.  I now know that I can write but I’m not much of a story-teller, if that makes much sense. I’m also spending a lot of money which is scary and absolutely terrifying, knowing that as much as I want to write for a living, chances are my future income will be menial.  I feel like I am not being criticised enough. If something I write is bad, if I am actually a bad writer with an ego that is a bit more inflated than it should be, I want to be told so. I really have enjoyed my experience and I’ve certainly learned a lot, but I can’t help the feeling that I followed the wrong whim.  Maybe I should’ve gone on and studied biochemistry as I had planned.  Anyway, I wish workshops were more critical.  I also wish that the competition aspect of it all, of being surrounded by other writers who may or may not be my ‘competition’, were more directly addressed.  I feel as if I am just floating through the program.
The awful truth: this course has shown me that, at this moment in time, I don’t have ‘what it takes’ to be a writer, but it has opened up a world of ideas and research that may allow me confidence and success in the future.
I am less confident with my writing now, as tutor feedback has proved detrimental to my progression.
I don’t think I am a particularly great writer – I think I am more of an ‘ideas’ person as I know how I want the creative piece to be but I have trouble finding the words.
When I first heard about the writing course, I was excited as I had only seen my writing as a hobby and not something I could get a degree from.  There was always the fear with anything I enjoy that studying it would crush my love for it and make me only write because my grade depended on it.  Sometimes it does feel like that but on the whole I couldn’t love writing more.  Every time I go to a lesson I’m thinking up ideas, working on old ones and even writing in class when not prompted.  Of course, there has been the odd teacher who makes me hate my writing and makes me hate the craft, but you just have to take them as they come.  I still have that drive to open up my notebook and write everything down I think up, as I did before I knew of the degree, only now my writing has vastly improved and it  may go on to bigger and better things.
It would be nice to learn how to feed the ego, as writing for a career requires an awful lot of confidence.
I was an elementary school teacher for years with a secret passion for writing.  When I moved to XXX I decided to pursue a graduate degree in creative writing.  I interviewed people at three different schools and specifically chose YYY
At first it was all terrifying – telling a story orally before I got a chance to write it down.  Commenting on how stories are written, what the author is doing rather than just making up some crap about theme.  For the first time I found I really had to work at school.  I had to pay close attention to what I was reading.  I had to read it more than once because other people were saying such insightful things and I wanted to say something clever too.  More than that I wanted to figure out something about what writers are doing in their short stories and novels.
I also want to write really great stuff because my classmates are writing such great stuff.
This course has been both immensely enjoyable and wonderfully useful.  On a basic level it demonstrated and proved to me notions I was aware of before starting the course, especially the notion that you must ‘show not tell’, which is a beautifully helpful rule to be employed in literature.  However, it is important who is teaching you.  I feel my 3rd year tutor has inspired me exponentially, and has helped me realise the potential on my writing.
I’ve been really impressed how the course has reached so many interesting areas of English in a way that has made it enlightening and engaging.  I’ve been surprised by a couple of peaks and troughs in my performance in certain subjects but this has helped me pave a way forward.  Fingers crossed, my final year will go OK.  All my tutors have been inspiring and supportive.
A lecture in every creative writing module on how to mark a writers group’s work would not only be more helpful for the person whose prose you mark but also for yourself as you would learn how to criticise and improve your own prose when you complete your final drafts.
A one-to-one meeting with your tutor on your refined draft would prove very useful before handing in our final daft.
One problem I have with the third year is how our special projects (dissertations) cannot be of the same genre as the piece we’re writing in our creative writing module.  Although this prevented us from repeating ideas, we should be given the benefit of the doubt that we can also be original in our writing, and avoid this dilemma by being ‘creative’ as our degree encourages.
I am very confident.  In some ways I always was, but now my confidence is tempered with patience and a greater understanding of the importance of community.  Creative writing as a course encourages thoughtful interaction and knowledge exchange.  So I feel more equipped to deal with people and life generally.  Importantly, I am happy. Really bloody happy – I am a writer.
3. Tutors
An awful lot depends on the tutor/lecturer.  Luckily for me, most I have had have been extremely good.
The staff at XXX are very knowledgeable and very good at what they do.
The parts of this course that have failed did so as a result of crap professors.  There, I said it.  Said what others have hinted at…. Overall, the course has been wonderful (where teaching was appropriate)
Of course, there has been the odd teacher who makes me hate my writing and makes me hate the craft, but you just have to take them as they come.
This course has been both immensely enjoyable and wonderfully useful…However, it is important who is teaching you.  I feel my 3rd year tutor has inspired me exponentially, and has helped me realise the potential on my writing.
 It should be mandatory that lecturers read and mark our work each week.  As great as my workshop group are, I’d also like to know the opinion of the only real ‘novelist’ in the room (in other words, our lecturer).
I was an expert student at previous schools, good at reading the professor and producing the type of work that she would like.  Now at XXX, there was not “This is an A paper”…it totally shifted my audience awareness from one instructor to the entire class as well as possible readers outside the workshop.  It was an adjustment – I wanted affirmation for the quality of my work from my teacher, but instead I was forced to be able to get it from myself.  Just this shift in audience–focus has improved my writing tremendously.  It was not easy but worth it.
4. Easy option?
Creative writing requires a lot more self-discipline than a lot of other subjects.  My non-creative writing friends see it as a soft option because of the minimal contact time at uni, but extra help is there if you need it, and provided you motivate yourself outside the classroom it’s not only an enjoyable but a time-consuming course!  I think it’s safe to say if you don’t want to put the effort in, you won’t be forced into it, but all courses are like that – you have to make the most of it for yourself.
This exercise sums up my feelings about the course. I sit and think for a while about what I should write and when I put pen to paper it confirms to me that I am no writer. If the truth be known I started the course as a bet and to reduce my workload.
Creative Writing you can coast – not pushing self as hard as in English (forced to).
On the whole, I find the course interesting and helpful, but not a deciding factor in my skills as a writer.  I think the amount of work we are required to do (and the resulting amount of feedback) is not enough to make a major difference.  Still, I did learn a number of things that will be of use to me in the future- I just wish there was more.
These Fiction classes have been some of the most CHALLENGING and enjoyable courses I’ve taken.
The hardest task now, the one you cannot be taught yet have to learn, is to discipline myself to get the work done outside of class.
The younger attitude of spending everyday in the bar and slacking is incredibly uninspiring but it has taught me one good thing…..Whatever one learns during lectures, even during the degree itself, it is the hours spent alone – whether at home, in a café, etc. – writing, actually disciplining yourself and your time that really teaches you if you have the skill, ambition, bloodymindedness to be a writer. The course, however helpful, is only a complement to the hours you spend at home with a pen and paper.
I feel that my creative writing degree is almost something that only like-minded people understand, in terms of the validity of it. I also do English Lit and I’m going to be a teacher, and so I have majored my degree in Eng Lit to make my application stronger.  I’m not sure a complete or major degree in creative writing would have ensured me that place in the same way.  However, I don’t feel creative writing is either a “Mickey Mouse” degree or a guilty pleasure – it is just as hard and challenging and rewarding as my Eng Lit.  I think creative writing degrees need to be provided and offered with clarity of content and method of teaching, with a devised way of measuring the success – even if that’s to have the student writers set their success goals. In this way, creative writing may become ‘seen’ as an equally ‘serious’ degree – because it is.
5. Relation to other subjects
Creative writing has asked me to be self-disciplined and focussed which I am not.  In this way it has matured me greatly whilst also making me view English Literature from a completely different perspective.
Only in Year 3 did Creative Writing and English interlock (contemporary writing).
I would say to anyone deep in the exciting process of creative writing: do take a creative writing course, but join it with something else that will continually inspire you and keep it varied and interesting.  Keep the mind fresh, keep the pen active.
Poetry is my passion so I saved creative non-fiction and fiction to the bitter end (along with Shakespeare).  I had n/f last semester and extremely enjoyed writing extended n/f pieces but they did not approach it exactly the same as the fiction class does although the poetry dept. does some intense workshopping at times and I have found that to be very beneficial.  So I came here open-minded.  Only problem – I am stuck in n/f mode.  I am trying to separate myself from my own individual stories and create fictitious characters – difficult – the word game sometimes opens doors for that.  Real life is more interesting to me.
I feel much more  capable as a writer today than when I began although most of my technical improvement has come from English Stylistics course.
I chose to do this course because I’ve always enjoyed the creative writing parts of my English courses, and this seemed like the ideal way to expand on that.  It’s definitely the half of the course I enjoy more, and most probably prioritise, and I think that doing this course has made me think more seriously about writing as a career.  If nothing else, it has taught me how to take and use creative criticism, which can only be a good thing.
I originally wanted to study creative writing as a full degree because it was something that I enjoyed and, having had a bad precious experience with History, realised lively interest was paramount.  Unfortunately, this option was withdrawn at the last minute, thus I study it with English Lit.  English is enjoyable but I often find the weight of the canon weighs heavily on my mind as an example of incredible writing whereas I scribble away ineptly each week. Though my own neuroses shouldn’t colour the fact that it has been an enjoyable course and one which I feel has benefited my writing immensely.
I started as a journalist, and tried out a Fiction Writing class with no idea what to expect and very limited novel-reading and fiction writing experience.
I took a creative writing degree as I wanted to do something I am good at and enjoy.  Since then I’ve found out that I’m not all that good at writing, and I don’t always enjoy it either. However, luckily for me, the degree has been flexible enough for me to try out other aspects of creative writing, such as feature journalism, film making and enterprise.  I feel now that, although I don’t fit in with the bulk of work done within the department, I’ve got the most out of my degree; and I feel (almost) ready to tackle a career.
But then I’ve always got my ‘hard’ subject, sociology (ha!), to fall back on.
I came to do a creative writing degree as a professional qualification.  However, without the English Lit. part of my joint major, I believe it would be near worthless.  Without a career, I’ll feel like I’ve failed.
6. Competition
Competition – Do I feel competitive with my classmates?  Absolutely, but there are two ways to respond: fall apart and feel dejected, or rise to it. The way it works here is that you know your work is good or getting good when the audience of the semicircle leans in and is as silent as possible so they can hear every word.  It’s not that I want to beat my classmates – I just want to know they are eagerly listening.
I wish workshops were more critical.  I also wish that the competition aspect of it all, of being surrounded by other writers who may or may not be my ‘competition’, were more directly addressed.  I feel as if I am just floating through the program.
I expected my writing classes to be filled with highly intellectual and competitive people.  I was terrified to hear my work read out loud.  After the initial fears I had, I realized that I was in a supportive circle and I felt a bit more comfortable with my writing.
The first workshop session was a horrible embarrassment, but as everyone is thrown into it together, a group dynamic forms.  In the best creative writing groups you feel a real desire to help everyone achieve their own goals as well as follow your own.
7. Assessment
Marking sucks  though; the ones I’ve been recommended to submit got red scrawls over them, and those I rebelliously slipped in were sung about.
Since the age of 11 I enjoyed writing small monologues, short stories and poems mainly for my own viewing.  I chose this course as my English teachers said I had a lot of potential.  I hoped that in completing this course I would become a writer.  At first I found the course interesting and informative but over the past two years I have been alienated from literature.  This is due to the fact that the subject is so subjective.  Having one tutor praise your work and then another almost failing you when marking it, suggests to me that it isn’t what your write but who you are writing for.  I will continue to write but for me only and I feel a completely new career path will have to be chosen.  I haven’t given up hope though.  If Dan Brown can get published then maybe so can I.  I may just have to write to less pretentious people.
I was an expert student at previous schools, good at reading the professor and producing the type of work that she would like.  Now at XXX, there was not “This is an A paper”…it totally shifted my audience awareness from one instructor to the entire class as well as possible readers outside the workshop.
I think creative writing degrees need to be provided and offered with clarity of content and method of teaching, with a devised way of measuring the success – even if that’s to have the student writers set their success goals.  In this way, creative writing may become ‘seen’ as an equally ‘serious’ degree – because it is.

More Information

Acknowledgements

Dr Steve May thanks all the participating institutions and staff, particularly Celia Brayfield at Brunel, Randy Albers and his team at Columbia College, Chicago, Alison Findlay and George Green at Lancaster, Richard Stockwell at Northumbria, David Swann at Chichester, and Nick Joseph and Neil McCaw at Winchester. He also thanks Nicole King of the English Subject Centre for her advice and enouragement, and Sandra Heward who typed up most of the contributions. To the students who particpated in this research project, Steve writes, ‘My debt to the students is obvious: their contributions, written in haste, spontaneously, without warning, planning, or the opportunity to edit, are overwhelmingly articulate, clear and persuasive. I hope that their voices will be heard and heeded by all of us planning or developing Creative Writing courses.’