girl sat at desk writing in a notebook
Student writing notes in a notebook

How writing can change a student’s future

It’s well known that in the realm of higher education, the arts have always been considered less valuable and low priority. This is unfortunately because many people have never had the opportunity to understand what value artistic pursuits can have in the professional world, and so therefore assume that the arts don’t actually have professional value. This is very much incorrect. This past year I have had the opportunity of studying the Creative Writing MA at the University of Lincoln, and this course does incredibly well with displaying how writing, a very artistic discipline, can be applied to the professional environment. Here are just some of the avenues the course explores.

Editorial Experience

Students taking the course are able to experience an internship, where they work as editors for the online publication The Lincoln Review. This literary journal, it’s first issue having been published in 2020, publishes writing in many different forms on their website at lincoln.review.org. Throughout the year, students read and give feedback to all submissions submitted to the journal from writers across the world, and are able to learn about the processes associated with a professional publication. This helps to inform students on professional tone when sending submissions, making sure writing is proofread and free of errors, and truly understanding how much time goes into reading and responding to written work.

Exposure To Industry Professionals

Students studying this MA, and indeed BA courses including creative writing, are very lucky in having staff who are all professionally published authors in a wide variety of forms and genres, from poetry, to novels, to audio work and projects for the screen. All members of staff understand the processes involved in getting written work published, and are therefore perfectly positioned for imparting this information onto students throughout the course. Also, the University of Lincoln is very lucky to have the writer Robert Shearman as the Visiting Senior Fellow for Creative Writing. He is a writer who has worked in many formats over the years, though most may know him from having written the 2005 Doctor Who episode ‘Dalek’. He has been kind enough to come in a guest lecture on the MA, imparting his knowledge and experiences which I personally found to be incredibly useful and enlightening.

How To Interact With The Professional Writing Community

Something that all professional writers do, no matter their niche of genre or format, is submit their work to others for consideration. This could be for a publication, for development for screen, for contests, or even sending in plots for video game developers. Submitting written work is something this course dedicates a lot of time to, with one of the assessments being a submission to a literary journal. Students are tutored in detail on how to appropriately format work depending on its form, and where to find a journal’s specific guidelines. They are also shown how to tone a cover letter and what to include in it, as well as how to write a professional third-person bio about themselves, which is something many journals ask for.

This course has allowed students to have so many different opportunities to explore their artistic desires, whilst applying them successfully to the professional communities out there who need and value them. There have been countless success stories from this year alone, including students having been able to interview famous writers like Neil Gaiman and Lemony Snicket (aka Daniel Handler, who I myself was able to interview for an assessment!). I personally have published a chapbook of poems this past year called Jack of All Tales with Alien Buddha Press, and more recently Ellie Fatharly was able to display her public art installation ‘Cold Feet’ on the Minerva Building on campus – this installation of socks was displayed to bring awareness of homelessness, and how socks are one of the least donated items for the homeless.

The arts are important. They allow those whose passions lie with artistic disciplines to express themselves how they want to, and how they deserve to. The arts opens the door to aiding social justice and important personal expression. However, the arts are also valuable in many professional circles, which is why this Creative Writing MA is so important. It truly displays how the art form of writing can be applied to the professional world, and really highlights how important it is that all HE institutions give it the attention and consideration it deserves.

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