Creative Writing MA

(5 Posts)
MovingBack Wed 20-May-15 19:57:11

Do you have one? If so, where did you do it and how did you find it?

At what stage do you think an MA course would be most helpful to a writer?

I am considering applying for one but I'm not sure if I'm too inexperienced - I'd like some guidance as to how accomplished the students on MA courses are so that I can gauge whether I should apply now or wait a while!

Any advice/guidance would be fantastic, thanks in advance.

upduffedandworrying Thu 21-May-15 09:33:01

I did mine at Birkbeck, University of London. It wasn't my first choice but because it's an evening course it lets me carry on working.

I haven't particularly enjoyed it but that is more due to me than the course. There's a lot of peer feedback which is really helpful and my writing has definitely improved, but I don't think it's anything I couldn't have done by joining a writers' group online or in person (and would have saved me 7 grand!).

Don't worry at all about inexperience though, the ability of the students on the course varies really widely. Generally speaking if you don't have some level of ability you won't get in, a lot of writing is natural talent and tutors will be able to spot that. Even very talented writers can be very experienced and need loads of help and support to get their work up to scratch. Obviously somewhere like UEA the standard is extremely high, but these are still all people who are developing the craft, not professionals.

I decided to do mine at the time I did because I was only writing short stories and needed the motivation to write a longer piece of work. I also needed a creative boost. But I could have got that for less money elsewhere.

All experiences are bound to be different though. Shout if you have any questions, happy to help smile

Dunlurking Sun 24-May-15 11:37:26

Hi MovingBack I'm contemplating one as well but have dipped my toes in with a university certificate course which shares modules with the MA course, which means I share tutorials/seminars and assignments and am marked to the same criteria. It has reassured me I'm of the appropriate standard but shown me that I'm lazy I don't want the sheer slog of doing all the compulsory modules on the MA. For now I'm settling for various short courses in things that interest me (Arvon/Faber/Guardian local courses etc) and am in a writer's group and a critique group while I work on that first novel.

If you're not sure then go for short courses for a while to build up your experience and confidence. Happy Writing.

TheWordFactory Tue 26-May-15 15:23:55

I think MAs in CW can be very good at forcing you to focus on certain aspects of your own work and giving yourself permission to take your craft seriously for a year (or two if part time).

However, they are not necessary (you could do the extended reading/exercises etc off your own bat) and most students will still not go on to actually finish a project.

PaperWait Wed 10-Jun-15 14:56:14

It's interesting what WordFactory says about most students not going on to finish a project - that's why I chose Sheffield Hallam when I did my MA in Creative Writing as it is a prerequisite of the course that you write an entire novel (around 100,000 words) or a full screenplay, etc.

Along with UEA, it's rated the top MA Writing course in the country, although UEA is more academic and Hallam focuses more on the craft of writing.

At the point where I started the MA I had an English degree, had worked in a journalistic field for around a decade, won a couple of national short short competitions, drafted a novel and been a member of a writing group for a couple of years, giving and receiving critique.

The MA was invaluable to me and over the course of 4 years on a part time basis I wrote a second novel which was infinitely better than my first thanks to the expert guidance of my tutor, the author Professor Jane Rogers. She taught me how to plot effectively, develop my characters and weave dramatic tension into my narrative to create a page turner - effectively I grew from writing pleasant prose to being a novelist. Published writers and agents would frequently hold Masterclasses which gave me some incredible insights into how the industry works and what publishing houses are looking for. I also met some really inspirational fellow writers on the course and we still meet up now and bounce ideas off each other.

An MA in Creative Writing isn't going to make someone with little talent become a brilliant writer, but it will instil the discipline within you to forge ahead with your project, give you the perspective to think about your work objectively and provide a platform to share your work with others.

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