More and more universities are offering creative writing courses to students, and alongside the University of East Anglia’s popular Creative Writing Master’s degree, they are setting up post-graduate level writing fellowships. If you’re looking for a new challenge, maybe one closer to home, check out the opportunities laid out by your university.
Why Study Creative Writing at University?
With traditional publishing industries slowly adapting to the new world of online content, traditional bookselling is on the way out. This has led to a rise in interest in e-publishing, or independently publishing books via the internet.
If you’re serious about becoming a professional writer, then it’s time to consider whether to study at a university or try your hand at online publishing. While some people may well get on just fine without a university degree, for those who want to break into the industry, the choice of which university to attend may well be the key to success.
Top Tips For Success
Top tips from those who have successfully completed a creative writing fellowship include:
- Take your time – You don’t have to rush into applying for a fellowship. There are plenty of opportunities out there, so take your time finding the right one for you.
- Make sure you write about something you’re passionate about – If you can’t put yourself in the story, then how can you write about what you feel?
- Don’t be afraid to try something new – Every writer’s dream is to write the Great American Novel. If you’ve never tried your hand at creative writing, why not give it a go during your fellowship? You may well surprise yourself and find that you love it!
- Network – As mentioned above, the world of publishing is changing, and it’s important to stay in touch with those who are already in the industry. The good news is that lots of digital nomads are becoming publishers looking for new writers to join their ranks.
- Follow the money – It’s always tempting to look at the shiny new things on the shelves and jump at the chance to buy them. However, if you’re after a creative writing fellowship, then it’s important to look at the money rather than the shininess of the items. Many prestigious journals will only accept quality material from professional writers, so it’s important to establish your credentials early on if you want to have a good chance of being considered for one of these positions.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help – If you’re stuck for ideas and have no idea how to get started, then by all means, ask for help! There are plenty of people around who would be more than happy to help you get going. Some of these people may even be able to offer you some helpful tips on how to get a novel published.
The Different Kinds of Creative Writing Fellowships
Creative writing fellowships vary in terms of what is required of you. If you’re lucky enough to be accepted, your fellowship will probably include some sort of creative writing project, whether it’s a novel or collection of short stories. As well as having the initial project to hand in, you’ll also be expected to write a regular report on the progress of your work. This may well be emailed to your professor or head of department at the end of each term.
Depending on the amount of work required, you may or may not be required to complete your fellowship within a set number of months. However, you must secure part-time employment to cover the expenses of your studies, so be mindful of how much work you’re expected to put in given what you’re earning. It’s a balancing act that not every student will be able to achieve.
The Difference Between A Pro Master’s And A Doctoral Degree
As well as creative writing fellowships, many universities are also putting forward Doctoral degrees in Creative Writing. This is a post-graduate qualification that will generally take you four years to complete. Alongside the report-writing component of a creative writing fellowship, you’ll also be expected to undertake a research project, and subsequently, write a dissertation on your findings. If this sounds like something you’re interested in, make sure you apply for graduate school at a university that offers this type of degree.
A Pro Master’s is a similar qualification to a Doctoral degree, and is generally viewed as a stepping stone to a professional career. Some of the courses that are included in a Pro Master’s degree include:
- English Literature
- Creative Writing
- The Creative Process
- Research Methods
- Digital Humanities
An advantage of a Pro Master’s compared to a creative writing fellowship is that you’ll be expected to teach as well as complete your studies. This could mean that you may be able to secure a position as a lecturer in a prestigious university or college.
The Difference Between A Research Fellowship And A Travel Grant
Although you may well get a creative writing fellowship without having to pay for your travel, many universities and research bodies offer grants for students to travel abroad for research. These are generally known as research fellowships and can be a great way to gain independence and research experience. You’ll generally be expected to pay for your travel and living expenses yourself, but having the extra money may well prove useful when trying to balance your budget.
A research fellowship is a bit like a creative writing fellowship in that you’ll be expected to complete a specific project. The major difference between the two is that with a research fellowship, you’ll be required to produce original research that may well be published in a scientific journal or presented at a professional conference. Although it may not sound like much, even the smallest amount of research can add up to a lot of money in terms of what you may be able to earn from publications alone. For this reason, many top firms and prestigious universities may well become interested in your work and wish to represent you as an employee.
How to Find Potential Sponsors For Your Creative Writing Fellowship
If you’re looking to secure a creative writing fellowship, then it’s important to think about who might be willing to support your ambitions. While it’s great to have literary agents and bestselling authors wanting to get involved, these are often associated with blockbuster films or high-profile TV shows. If you don’t have a recognizable name, don’t expect to attract much interest from traditional publishers.
Instead, try to find sponsors that are closer to your field. Many scientific journals will accept original research from masters or doctoral students, so if you can show that your research interests lie in a scientific field, then it’s a chance to show how you may be able to contribute to their publications. Moreover, many high-profile scientific journals have an ‘open policy’ regarding authors’ fees, so make sure you establish yourself as an expert in your field before you expect to start receiving funding for your work. Additionally, if your field is less established, then it may prove more difficult to find publishers who are willing to take a chance on your work.
In summary, if you’re looking to study creative writing at university, then you may find it more beneficial to attend a smaller institution. Moreover, if your aim is to become a professional writer, then it’s important to look at how you’ll balance your studies with your career, as many digital nomads are now finding themselves in the position of having to work multiple jobs to make ends meet. Don’t worry; you may well enjoy studying literature while also being able to land a lucrative writing contract, but it depends on you what you’ll put in to reach this stage.