MA Creative Writing

MA Creative Writing


Our MA in Creative Writing tries to develop
a rounded programme of training for budding writers, which is to say we provide workshops
which are very hands-on, students come in with their own work and it’s put under the
microscope, it’s discussed, it’s edited. But we also try to provide a little bit more
in terms of building very real, hands-on skills, like editing, how to pitch yourself to agents
and editors – in other words, how to break into the world of published writing. And at
the same time, we try to widen horizons; we try to expose students to new readings and
ways of thinking about writing, ways of conceptualising what they do. I think on a practical, structural level,
one of the things we don’t do that many programmes do is that we – what we provide
is all about writing. Every single module you’ll be doing is focused on your creative
writing presence. So all our modules are focused and interact
to provide systematic training. The other thing that I think that’s unusual for us,
but has worked very well for us, is that we teach different genres of writing, often side-by-side.
In other words we try not to tell people – you’re a poet, you’re a prose writer, you write
film scripts… We encourage students to experiment, to expand their horizons, we encourage people
to interact with writers who come from very different generic perspectives because ultimately
we think it makes you a better writer. And the third thing that is quite unusual
and unique for us is that we have a very diverse student body that we’re very proud of. And
that’s in terms of national background, in terms of social background, in terms of
life experience, in terms of age… And again, we believe that putting these people together
in a room and making them share work will expand horizons and create better writing. Our course is delivered through a variety
of strategies. At the heart of many creative writing programmes, and also ours, is the
workshop format, which is a very small group of dedicated writers talking about their work,
which is a very lovely format I think, because people are existentially involved in the work
they bring in and you are in a circle of other, fellow writers, who really understand what
you’re trying to do and talk through strategies of making it even better. But we don’t just
do workshops – we do a lot of other things. So we deliver content, it’s usually in a
seminar, which can be somewhat larger in size, there are lectures and guest readings, there
are discussion seminars that focus on particular topics. What we don’t do is create a format
where you walk in, kick back and just watch a television screen – we try to be as interactive
and hands on as we can. If you are thinking of applying to us, the
first thing to do is to read the materials online, to see whether the course is for you,
to get a sense of the module structure, and the module times if you’re part-time, you
may want to think about how that fits into your professional life. And as you’re putting
your application together, the two key documents that we want: one is a personal statement.
This personal statement is called personal for a reason, we want to hear your voice,
we want to know who you are, we want to learn why you have fire in your belly to become
a novelist, a short story writer or a poet. We want to know about your experience in writing
– have you published before? Have you been writing quietly, secretly in your garage for
years? If you want to talk about what you’re reading, what gets you excited. And then the other important document is a
writing sample, and we typically, if it’s prose or a screenplay, or a theatre play,
we ask for something like 3,000 words. The precise word count matters less to us; we
need to hear your voice. If it’s poetry, then maybe something like 150 lines. We very
much welcome people who work in different genres, showing off different sides of their
writing persona. And again we’re looking both for professional presentation, we’re
looking for craft, certain skills in place, but above all we’re looking for ideas, a
way of looking at the world that is unique to you. We want to know that you have something
to say and that we can help you say it more effectively.

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