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What I thought a creative writing degree would be and what it actually gives you

When I used to think of writers, I often thought of a Dickensian quill poised, lonely individual, trying to make ends meet. I never thought of myself as an aspiring writer. That was until I had officially enrolled on the BA (Hons) Creative Writing degree at University of Chichester.

Ever since I was a child, I have always been drawn to the beauty of prose in all its forms. I was at my happiest in school when I was discussing the works of the greats, and I was often re-writing a new version of their work in my head as I gazed out of the window. As much as I knew then the importance of literally dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s, it was the task of getting the stories out of my head and on to the page that really inspired me. When I started my course, I was naïve to think that my lectures would mirror those earlier days in my education.

From the first semester at Chichester, I have learnt that a huge amount of responsibility comes with being a writer. Whether you write fiction or non-fiction, essays or memoirs, if you are going to be a writer then you have a responsibility to tell the truth. You have the power at your fingertips to show the experience and emotions of others. I have learnt that the art of crafting words deserves authenticity, integrity, and respect.

A Creative Writing course naturally requires the learner to engage with a wide amount of reading material. The ability to close read is a skill that it transferable to almost every profession. It is a skill that is valued and makes for an effective communicator and practical problem solver. Research is also a crucial element to a Creative Writing course. During research tasks, it has often led me to discover more than I had initially set out to. This has not only expanded my knowledge of the world, history, and social issues, it has also developed my skills in critical analysis. 

Working alongside fellow aspiring writers has exposed me to a comforting community of eclectic personalities, providing me with a more diverse view of the world around me. Being mentored and taught by published Chichester authors has given me an honest first-hand and professional preparation for employment in the industry and for the career I wish to pursue.

I have discovered that a Creative Writing course offers escapism. It will take you to places on and off the page that you never expected to go. It will expose you to thoughts and opinions of people that you never thought you would value. It gives you the opportunity to write the life you always wanted and has a therapeutic process that allows the writer to effectively express what is otherwise difficult to voice.

If you have chosen to study Creative Writing, it’s highly likely that you can appreciate the arts. Once you get into the fundamentals of writing, the process, the decisions or thoughts behind the writer’s choices and techniques, it is difficult to experience the arts in the same way that you did before. I am now unable to sit in the theatre and just take whatever show or play that I am seeing at face value. My mind is now wired in such a way that I am always wondering why the creator has done what they have. It is both an enthralling and exhausting experience. I now have a much greater appreciation for the arts in all their forms. I listen better to music and I look deeper into paintings. I search for the story behind the object or the person.

There are a variety of job roles that are compatible with a creative writing degree and with the progression of social media more and more companies are reaching out for assistance with creating the perfect communication. Since studying Creative Writing, I have a heightened sense of attention to detail and a higher standard for precision. Immersing myself fully into a creative subject has given me a direct insight into the mindset and if I was given the option to, I would definitely pick Creative Writing again.

 

Cheryl Poynton Cole, BA (Hons) Creative Writing Student