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    7 Tips for Studying an English Literature or Creative Writing Degree

    I’d like to start off by saying I am absolutely by no means the best student out there. I am lazy and unmotivated and self-deprecating, constantly racked with guilt after spending another day hungover in bed watching Netflix and doing no writing or reading.

    But, I have somehow managed to actually get some extremely good grades over the past three years, some of which I’m not sure I really deserve. In fact, my end-of-year grades for 3rd year were astonishingly good considering my lack of effort as I managed to pass with distinction, which would allow me therefore to (SOMEHOW) graduate just now with a First Class Bachelor of the Arts in English, Journalism and Creative Writing if I wished. However I am continuing on for my fourth year to do Honours level.

    I feel it is only fair to pass on the wisdom I have picked up throughout my time at university. Some of them probably only apply to the creative writing side, but many suit both writing and literature degrees. These degrees open up so many avenues for you in terms of careers – teaching, publishing, writing, pr, copywriting, editing, you name it. I’m not sure yet exactly where I hope my career will take me, but I do hope that it will include writing. I always said I never wanted to be an English teacher, but the closer it gets to the end of my degree, the more appealing it sounds to pass on my love for the subject. 
    Until then, here are some tips for if you are set to start a course after the summer, or thinking of applying in the future. I can’t recommend it enough if reading and writing is your passion.  
    I actually really enjoyed writing this post, so I hope you like it too! A lot of these tips come from my mistakes – just saying.


    Unlike some types of degrees, and English or Creative Writing degree does not instantly qualify you to do a specific job. If you want to be a teacher, you have to combine it with an education degree or do a postgraduate degree in teaching. Like I said, they open up so many avenues for different careers, but you have to find the one that is right for you, and that is not necessarily going to be glaringly obvious before you start your degree. It is very much a degree to go into with just a passion for the subject, and see where that takes you. I still don’t know where that will be, but I am fine with that. (A little stressed, but mainly fine.)

    Prepare for lots of questions from people asking, “So when do you qualify?” NEVER. 


    This kind of goes without saying. The best writers do a lot of reading too. Not to steal other people’s work and ideas, but to improve your own writing skills and imagination. It also helps to not just read ‘good’ writing. I often find myself critiquing writing while I read without meaning to, picking out little mistakes that hopefully translate in my own work.


    It is often in class during a workshop that you will get the best ideas for your work. There is something about the banding together of fellow creative minds that can do wonders for your story. You can get ideas you may never have come up with on your own, and rework them to suit your own style. It may be daunting, especially at the beginning when you have no idea who these people are and how dare they criticise your work, but it is really one of the most valuable things about a creative writing course.


    I have some cheek saying this, when I was always the one frantically typing the day the assignment was due and uploading it after barely giving it a second glance because I didn’t have time to edit. This is not the way forward. Learn from my mistakes. You will be sick of hearing this piece of advice from your tutors, but believe them when they say you need a fresh eye. You can’t spot your mistakes, irregularities, or plain stupid writing if you read it straight after writing it. You need to give yourself time to forget the tiny details, almost like you are reading someone else’s writing for the first time.

    This goes for blog posts too!


    Depending on your university, you may have varying levels of flexibility when it comes to module choices. This often means you will be stuck doing core classes that are of little interest to you, which I do have a lot of experience of. I’m talking Renaissance literature, scriptwriting, poetry writing – you name it, I’ve done it. But that doesn’t take away from the fact you are still graded on these subjects and you still have to do your absolute best, whether it gets you all hot and bothered or it drives you to the brink of insanity.

    As difficult as it may be, remember that each of these classes are still improving your skills by forcing you to branch out from your comfort zone, read and write different things, and be as amazing at your craft as you possibly can be.


    Do you work best by getting up at the crack of dawn and heading to the library with your take-out coffee cup when there are hardly any people around? Do you like your long lies and prefer to work in the afternoon? Are you a night owl, happy to sit up to the early hours of the morning typing away on your laptop? Whatever works best for you, stick to it. I definitely don’t work well in the mornings. My brain needs more time to wake up before I can be creative. This also relates to choosing your seminar times, if that is something your university has you do. If you aren’t creative at 9am, then it goes without saying that that is not the class time you should be going for, even if that’s the one your friends are picking.


    I do pretty much all of my writing in a word document on my laptop because I much prefer the ability to write anything I want, no matter how terrible, and then be able to delete it without a trace before anyone can read it. Writing it down on paper feels so permanent, and I find myself struggling to get started in case it is shockingly bad. What is difficult to remember, but so important though, is that sometimes the stuff that starts off so terrible can be reworked later into some of your best work. If you don’t get anything down on the page, be it a paper or an electronic work, there is nothing to re-do later. The first draft is made to be deleted.

    I’d love to know if you study a literature or writing degree, so let me know! Do you think a writing degree is essential if you want to be a writer?

    life, writing

    The Writer Tag

    While looking for some other book blogs to follow last week, I randomly came across an old post from 2016 on Viva Tramp on a writer’s tag that she made up herself. I love finding these things out about people, and since my blog is still very much a newborn, it also seemed like a perfect fit to introduce myself a little more, so here goes.

    1. What do you write? What genre? Any recurring themes?
    I write a lot of what I like to read, and that is realist fiction. I much prefer creating a world much like the one we live in so that I can draw on my own experiences to make the piece as interesting as possible. I’d love to challenge myself and write something a little more crazy though.

    2. What or who inspires you to write?
    Other writers. Whenever I see someone tweeting about an exciting project or instagramming a photo of them sitting at a desk or in a coffee shop, it always makes me want to do the same.

    3. Where do you write, when and with what?
    I do basically all of my writing from the comfort of my office, aka my bed. I never write in the morning, because the creative part of my brain seems to take all day to warm up, and then I am full steam ahead when I should be going to sleep. I get all my best ideas at night time. I very rarely write an actual draft by hand, it is always typed, but I do like to handwrite my notes because the ideas seem to flow well that way.

    4. Sound or silence when writing?
    Silence, or close to it. I don’t like writing with music on or the tv in the background because I find it far too distracting. Every day sounds are welcomed though – my flatmate moving around, cars driving by, the kids at the nursery across from my flat.

    5. Have you studied writing? If so, what was that like? If not, where do you feel like you learned your craft?
    I have! I have just finished my third year at university studying English literature, journalism and creative writing. I have absolutely loved my time at university so far, and it was 100% the right choice for me. I definitely don’t think you have to study writing if you want to be a writer, but I am definitely a million times better at it than I was before I started. It pushes me out of my comfort zone, makes me write things I’d never normally consider writing, and talk to other writers and brainstorm ideas together. It is a truly invaluable experience and I can’t believe I only have a year of it left.

    6. What do your family/friends think?
    My mum is so supportive of my writing. She loves it when I send her anything I have written and she is always so full of compliments. She’s determined she is going to be on the receiving end of a dedication in my first book one day.

    7. What do you find challenging?
    Getting started. I often struggle with writing the first sentence of any piece of writing, be it fact or fiction. Once I get going, though, I am a very speedy writer.

    8. What is your favourite thing about writing?
    It is the most perfect release. You can write anything at all, and no one has to read it if you don’t want them to so it can be as amazing or as shit as you feel up to that day.

    9. Any tips for writer’s block?
    As hard as it is, try not to put too much pressure on yourself to force an idea. The best ideas come naturally when you aren’t really expecting them. I often find I get a random idea, start planning it, and then an even better one somehow emerges.

    10. What are your lifelong writing goals?
    I hope to make a living out of my writing. I’d love to write at least one book one day (hopefully not a one-hit wonder), but also to make a difference with my writing. I want people to come away from it feeling like it resonated with them in some way, and then they tell their friends over coffee that “I read this thing the other day and you have to check it out…”

    (Side note: I now have a blog twitter account!! Now I can tweet about books and writing to my nerdy heart’s delight and not bore all of my twitter followers on my regular account who just want to hear what ridiculous thing I have done now, and have no interest in books whatsoever (no – I don’t get it either). You can follow me @writingfinch_ so send me a tweet to say hi!)