Five tips for studying Creative Writing 2

Heading off to start a Creative Writing degree this September? Lucky you. If you’re wondering what to expect, here are some tips from Philip Bowne, who has just finished his degree in Creative Writing, and D.D. Johnston, who has taught Creative Writing at the University of Gloucestershire since 2010.

Phil BownePhil: Studying Creative Writing has been worthwhile for me in so many ways. The lecturers and the course itself helped me to get my work published in magazines and anthologies, work for a month as a travel writer, and gain the confidence to read my own writing out on stage. But in my first year, I wasn’t so sure how to go about studying Creative Writing. I wasn’t even sure I was capable of doing it.
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‘Write what you know.’ Really? Reply

This week we’re looking at selecting material for writing fiction. Writers are often told to write what they know, but what does that advice mean? The video ends with a writing exercise to practice the skill of writing what we don’t know – or what we’ve only just learned about.

Zoe Heller on ‘Write what you know’
Nathan Englander on ‘Write what you know’

Writing exercise: Choose from the following list of places somewhere you’ve never been and write a detailed description of what a character experiences as she or he travels through this location.

The harbour of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Aabpara Market in Islamabad, Pakistan
The Cuillin Mountains on the Isle of Skye, Scotland
The Riverfront in St Charles, Missouri, United States
Brick Lane in London, England
Namakunde, Angola
Dalton Post, Yukon, Canada
Keleti Railway Station, Budapest, Hungary

If you want to make it harder, change the date; for instance, try to describe the location as it would have been in 1982 or 1956.
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A few things every prose writer needs Reply

A recent poll revealed that among respondents over fifty, ‘publish a novel’ has displaced ‘have an extra-marital affair’ as the most cited ambition. Perhaps so many people aspire to write because all you need to get started is a pen and paper or something to type on. But there are a few other things that might help you along the way.


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On reading: the one thing all writers do 1

‘Beginning writers,’ says Tom Bailey, ‘must read (note that I mean must, a word I have studiously avoided throughout this book – reading is the one thing all writers do!).’ But what should you read? This video introduces some reading suggestions for writers. Below the video you’ll find a link to a big list of some of anglophonic fiction’s big names.

Suggested reading list
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