Good art takes patience and determination. It can even be gruelling, maddening, and heartbreaking. When we neglect skill, we can toil for a lifetime and remain mediocre. People often quip that writing is one of those skills that is inherent. “You’ve either got it or you don’t.” Hmm. It’s true that people have inclinations and abilities in specific areas, but everyone has the potential to be better.
Successful and invested creators are in it for the long haul. They have a vision for how good their art can be, and they find ways to improve and evolve. Right now, I’m midway through a Masters in Creative Writing at Oxford University. Here are some of the benefits I’ve experienced in studying creative writing at postgraduate level.
1. I’ve explored my passion with like-minded people, enriching my writing – and my life – considerably.
2. I’ve found out what I am capable of when I rise to a challenge. Literary criticism? Sure! I guess i can do that now…!
3. I’ve surprised myself by writing poetry and dark comedy, turning my hand to genres I’ve never considered in the past. It’s exciting to explore new creative territory.
4. I’ve been inspired and moved by the writers I’ve met. We struggle and we celebrate together. Writing can be hard work and mutual support is invaluable.
5. I’ve gained discipline in my writerly practice in order to meet the demands of the programme. I know that this will stand to me.
6. I’ve identified my strengths and weaknesses and I’m more sharply tuned as to how to improve my work.
7. I’ve received valuable, high level feedback on my writing from esteemed tutors and well read fellow students.
8. I’ve been exposed to inspiring, experimental literature that I just wouldn’t have encountered otherwise.
A structured and mentored creative writing programme, such as the one I am involved in, can be a powerful and life-affirming experience.
Writing is precious to me. It drives me. With one life to live, we should throw ourselves in at the deep end as often as we can; the more we give to our passion, the higher the return.
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