Creative living: How creative writing courses help to prepare for life-long careers

Paul Munden

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Our aim is to produce students who, having experimented with and developed their writing, are effective writers who are prepared and able to pursue their careers as they choose, whether that is on a conventional graduate track, within the creative industries, freelance, selfemployed or a ‘portfolio’ worker.

This and other comments below are taken from Beyond the Benchmark, a research report into creative writing in higher education commissioned by the Higher Education Academy. It is typical of the (anonymised) responses received from those teaching on creative writing courses across the UK when asked specific questions about the career support and professional development provision for students.

The responses suggest that UK universities are highly active in preparing students for the world of work. This is not to say that the courses themselves are career-focused; quite the opposite. The prime attention of the vast majority of creative writing courses is on writing, unaffiliated to specific walks of life – or the prospect of financial remuneration. They do however incorporate a wonderful variety of professional guidance, much of which is derived from initial input by the National Association of Writers in Education (NAWE). That input was generated by Arts Council England promoting professional development within the arts, and the establishing of NAWE's ‘Writer's Compass’ as a resource for writers at all levels. NAWE worked closely with universities, sometimes visiting and offering talks and seminars with a careers focus, and produced a useful planning handbook, Getting to where you want to be. Increasingly, universities have started to build in their own provision, some of it substantial.

‘Why Not Be a Writer?’

This headline, found in a variety of newspaper advertisements over the years, attempts to lure would-be writers to commercial, non-academic writing courses. It equates writing with being published. In higher education, by contrast, publication is seen as one potential, positive outcome for students, but nowhere is it in evidence as the sole purpose, or even the prime one.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEnglish
Subtitle of host publicationShared Futures
EditorsRobert Eaglestone, Gail Marshall
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherD.S. Brewer
Number of pages9
ISBN (Print)9781843845164
Publication statusPublished - 8 Feb 2019


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