Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Life After a Creative Writing MA

6 weeks after submitting my dissertation, I'm beginning to get back to 'normal' as I fight off cold number 3. So what do you do when you finish one of the most intense years of your life? Here's my advice...

1. Recharge.
You're exhausted, so don't try to continue at the same pace and intensity. A break from writing might help, but don't force it if you feel like writing. In fact, don't force anything - sleep, read for pleasure, eat cake, have fun and relax. Note: recharging might take longer than expected.

2. Plot a roadmap.
Consider what you want in the future; how you'd like you career to progress in the long-term. Then work out short-term goals based on your ambitions. You'll end up changing them, but that's life. It's important to feel you're heading in a specific direction when you finish a Creative Writing MA, otherwise you'll feel lost without deadlines and reading lists as your guide.

3. Follow any leads.
During the course of your MA you will have come across writers you're never heard of, genres you wish to explore, publishing opportunites, possible contacts, courses you might want to do in future... A plethora of information you haven't had the time to investigate. Now is the time. If you can't take action straightaway, make notes somewhere you won't forget about them (i.e. in a notebook rather than on the back of an envelope).

4. Keep writing.
Doing a Creative Writing MA can leave you overwhelmed, intimidated and convinced you have no talent. This is normal - don't let these feelings dissuade you. Underneath these negative feelings, you will be inspired, motivated and excited. So try writing in new genres or formats; work on those crazy ideas that scare and excite you. Take a break from writing if you think it'll be beneficial, but don't stop altogether.

5. Review.
Review what you've learnt during the course of the MA - and keep reviewing regularly. A lot of what you've learnt might not resonate with you right now, but could help immensely in future. However, you will recognise that much of what you've learnt can help you straightaway - whether it's a fruitful writing exercise, a technical aspect, or the value of feedback - so work out how to build these things into your writing life post-MA.


  1. Absolutely excellent advice, Hayley. There's much here that I can relate to. I think it's so important to balance efficiency with kindness to yourself. And it's so true that not everything you learn has an immediate impact. But that doesn't mean it won't be of huge value in the years ahead.