1. Ragdoll
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    Ragdoll Member

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    Study writing/litterature?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Ragdoll, Nov 25, 2010.

    So, I'm thinking of what to study, and I really don't know... I only have a few years left to think, and I am like freaked out, because I'm gonna have to apply next year, or the year after. Since I wanna be a writer, I'm considering studying creative writing and/or english litterature. My question is: will this help me? Do I get advantages if I educate within writing? Do I get a better chance of suceeding? What do you guys think?
     
  2. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    It depends.

    Writing isn't like a lot of other vocations. You don't need any particular qualifications to be a writer in the same way that you do to be a lawyer or doctor. So from that perspective, you don't need to study Creative Writing or English Literature.

    However, what studying those subjects will do is give you the opportunity and academic support to improve your writing. English Lit is a good base for a writer, as it's the other side of the coin. If you analyse the writing of others, then you can see what they've done, how they've done it, whether it works, and whether it's something you yourself can use.

    Creative Writing courses are a different beast, really. You can't teach writing, as such. What you can do, is improve it. I'd imagine that any Creative Writing course you do would be based on workshopping- on writing a piece, getting feedback, and seeing where you went wrong. Such courses have their detractors, who argue that you can get such workshopping elsewhere (such as this website) for free. Personally, I believe that such courses, if well run, can be incredibly useful. If your tutors are experienced and capable writers and critiquers, then you can improve your writing drastically.

    Will it help you succeed? Assuming you mean get published, only in so far as your writing will improve. A BA or whatever in Creative Writing won't automatically mean you get a torrent of acceptances.
     
  3. Eunoia
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    Eunoia Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't know how it works where you are, but if you're not sure on whether to study English Literature or Creative Writing then perhaps do a joint degree, you can always change to single if you want.
    I'm currently in my second year studying Creative Writing at university and I absolutely love it. It has really helped to improve my writing, and gain an understanding of the industry I want to enter. But of course, just because you have a degree in Creative Writing doesn't instantly mean you'll be successful. It's not as easy as that. But I personally think it is really helping me to go in the right direction. I'm at a great university for Creative Writing so that obviously helps. I think a Creative Writing course will vary in every university, and how helpful it is so I would look seriously at all university possibilities and their course in detail before deciding.
     
  4. Ragdoll
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    Ragdoll Member

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    Of the two, I mostly want to study creative writing, at a university in England. But I'm not sure yet, as there are other subjects I want to study that leads to a more secure job.
    What jobs can one get from studiyng writing or litterature anyway?
     
  5. Northern Phil
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    Northern Phil Active Member

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    If you don't have any specific job in mind then I would recommend going for an IT degree. Every employer now says that they want people who are skilled in using IT software and hardware.

    If I was you I would look at the jobs that are out there, find one that you want to do and then look into what sort of degree you will need to accomplish that.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    well, it could help you with your spelling! ;-) ... seriously, it won't help you in re getting published, but could help inspire you to write and by exposing you to the best works of the best writers, help you to learn what constitutes good writing...

    ...none but what i mentioned above...

    ...not really... most of the most successful and most respected writers of all ages never studied writing/literature formally...

    ...publishing house or magazine editor, if you obtain a masters degree... other than that, i can't think of any...
     
  7. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    A good grasp of English can get you many jobs and most universities when I was there would show you how to tailor a CV - many jobs just ask for a degree.

    Naturally teaching, lecturing comes to mind, journalism etc - jobs in administration, marketing, certain museums, libraries etc
     
  8. bsd13
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    bsd13 Member

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    Get a degree that will allow you to be competitive in the job market. What if writing doesn't work out? Spend the considerable time and money focused on a skill set that is transferable to multiple vocations.
     
  9. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Why aren't good writing, reading, research, interpretation skills; transferable to multiple occupations? All my friends with an English Degree managed to get jobs.
     
  10. bsd13
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    bsd13 Member

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    Isn't the OP talking about a college/university degree? All those skills you mentioned are great but they should be well honed by the time you get out of high school.

    But did the English degree put them ahead of the rest of the competition and if so what kind of jobs are you talking about?
     
  11. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    A degree should be able to take them to a new level.



    It put them on an equal footing with anyone else with a degree sure - same as a history or archaeology degree would have done for me. Some are in marketing, I have one that went on to do a law degree and is now a barrister, teacher, university academic, one is a reasonably successful author (pays some bills), one works in NHS administration, one is an actuary, one is a singer in a band, couple work in libraries, one is a researcher with the BBC, one is an actress.

    Sure I have forgotten a few.
     
  12. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    My college offers a creative writing certificate. It's not a degree and is only a few semesters, but the courses, I believe, could fit within other degrees. I doubt it can hurt to study it further if it's what you like to do. I wouldn't go after a major degree in it but that doesn't mean you can't study it at all.
     
  13. goldhawk
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    goldhawk Senior Member

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    I recommend that you take a few courses in psychology. It seems strange to me that fiction writers often are not interested on what the professionals have to say about the workings of the human mind.
     
  14. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am doing that. xD I actually don't find the class all that useful. :rolleyes: But it's interesting enough and the instructor let me write my term paper on the Psychology of Fiction Writing. :D He liked it too.
     
  15. goldhawk
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    goldhawk Senior Member

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    Maybe I should have said criminology; so you can create better villains. :)
     
  16. Show
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    Eh maybe. Although me in a criminology class would probably turn it into a whacked chemistry class as I'd probably spontaneously combust or something. I am a bit of a hypochondriac when it comes to how insane I am so putting me in a criminology class would likely brainwash me into think I've done everything from cause Hurricane Katrina to assassinate Kennedy. :p

    I'm sure it'd help others though. BUt then again, I think we could probably create good villains a lot easier by studying on their free time rather than taking a pricey class on it.
     
  17. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that's a bit narrow - the literature I study includes a vast amount of theory and psychology - even without the creative writing aspect of my degree, the actual analysis of texts is on a deeply political, historical, psychological, etc level, taking in every aspect. It's not like learning analysis is JUST about breaking down word for word texts and looking at the methods of writing alone.

    Mind you, I also do history, so I get even more psychology, economics, politics, etc with that. I do courses on social history and vast topics like the French Revolution, Medieval architecture, and so on.

    I'm taking both degrees with the sole intention of learning more to be a better writer, and to broaden my understanding, so I took a very broad course. Other universities might be more specific, stop you taking certain routes, etc. I also take creative writing for the workshops. But yeah. Best thing you can do is not to learn about the technical side of writing. That can come after you know what to write about, and in that case, learning about the world is the best way to do that, and to do that, taking a Literature course with a very very wide reading list would be your best bet, as well as following some other interest on the side in a joint degree.

    I dunno, I'm just enjoying what I do so much and feel like I'm learning so much - in ways that makes me a better writer.

    My Creative Writing teacher emphasises that all you can REALLY do, as a writer, is write the best possible novel. That is the only thing that you have total control over. So I say take what course will lead you to being the best writer. It may even be that further education isn't for you, and what you really need is to travel, meet people, broaden your experiences that way.
     
  18. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    also psychology has its limitations - it can be dependant on the time and culture in which it was written and studied. Some workings of the human mind remain consistent but others are affected by the nature of the bringing up.
     
  19. Reggie
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    Reggie I Like 'Em hot "N Spicy Contributor

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    I always thought that the writing comes from your reading level and how well you understand words. With my writing, I normally write simple words, and I don't know the hard words and stuff. I see many people use nouns who do things to other nouns, like "the clouds suddenly appeared, blocking the sun. However, the sun tried to fight the clouds by shinning, but the clouds dominated the sun, so daylight ended. I don't know how to write either. I honestly am surprised that I just wrote something in this reply.
     
  20. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    It really depends on what kind of fiction you want to write. If what you plan on writing is high fantasy or hard scifi, or something like that, then studying literature isn't likely to appeal to you; you'll be reading predominantly literary fiction, the word "story" is anathema, and most of your research will be concerned with the theory behind great literature rather than the mechanics of fiction or story-telling itself (which it is presumed you can already understand and analyse independently by the time you reach university). A creative writing course will offer more teaching aimed at helping you create stories and putting some of the theory into practice, but again, it depends on what you write and more importantly what your tutor writes--at my university, for instance, the creative writing course is always taught by a very well-published, award-winning NZ author, and that author is almost exclusively renowned for literary fiction. So, if you submit with genre fiction, you're both less likely to be accepted in the first place (competition is tough, you can't just apply--you need a great GPA and some display of talent to even be considered for the intense, intense course) and less likely to enjoy the class itself.

    That said, I don't think there's a writer in the world who wouldn't benefit from having the opportunity to engage with literary theory and criticism, but whether it is worth the tuition depends on what you want to get out of it.
     
  21. Top Cat
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    Top Cat Senior Member

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    Depends also on what medium you intend to write for. There are courses for Scriptwriting for Film and TV (that's the one I'm on :-D), Writing for Radio, Journalism, Writing for Stage, PR (writing press releases...ew).

    For instance my course is one of the best as it's Skillset Accredited. It's important for me because it's very media heavy, and the industry values Skillset highly. Also, I work regularly with film makers, and producers - and you're surrounded by people all aiming for the same thing. That's excellent. Not only can I write - I can see it get made. You also learn how bad TV students and wanna-be directors are at writing. :p

    On the counter balance, you get inundated with theory for it to be counted as an honours. So be prepared to write masses on feminism, narrative theory, authorship, audiences, representation, semiology, narratology, using structuralist models, post-structuralist models, textual analysis models, ect, ect, ect...

    It's through the course I met my dearest co-writer, and lots of people knowledgeable enough to review my work. Now that *is* valuable!
     
  22. Newfable
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    Newfable Senior Member

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    Take this suggestion. I only took Psych 101, and it helped my ability to write tenfold. The rest of psychology is beyond me, but that's just personal.

    A majority of Creative Writing courses are workshop based. Assignments are writings that you do yourself (sometimes based on a prompt), and are brought into class to be workshopped by your peers, which mostly will consist of other writers. Most Creative Writing classes are tought by authors themselves, or people knowledgable with the field and market of writing. Some, like mine, will give you tips and tricks on making it in the industry, but nothing that will dramatically put you ahead of competition. That also depends a great deal on the professor.

    A lot of writers will tell you that you don't need classes like that, but they are a boon to any writer who's serious about the craft. You'll need to learn the rules of writing, as well as the theories. These classes, alongside good professors, can make or break a linguistically creative individual.

    Like others have said, however, it may not help you too much in the job market, save for teaching it, or going into Hollywood. I majored in Creative Writing, and while my degree doesn't get me very far (my job experience is kinda' lacking too; two sides to every coin and all that), what I learned helped me out to a degree I may never have reached otherwise. I didn't have to major in Creative Writing to take away all I learned though.

    I'd suggest going to or looking into the school that you're interested in, and asking questions about their English/Creative Writing department.
     

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