Is a Creative Writing Degree Really Worth It?

To anyone thinking about studying creative writing,

It’s 11 o’clock at night. I’m sitting here, having just submitted my last university assignment, scrolling through jobs on seek.com. Look, I’ll be honest; there aren’t many. In fact, where I really want to go, I haven’t even found one that’s just right. It’s scary to leave “the academy” after being a student for almost 17 years. First kindergarten, preschool, primary school, high school, and then uni. It’s scary to think that I have to leave this privileged safe-haven where I can work on my creative writing without having to hold down a full-time job.

During my studies, I have had so many discussions about whether or not creative writing degrees are really worth anything. Will that really get you a job? Do real writers really need a writing degree? Creativity can’t be taught, can it?

All I know is that the time I have dedicated to my creative work over these three years has made all the difference. This degree has given me the chance to go all in, and really get something down on the page. Something that I’m almost happy with (on a good day). Something that I’m going to finish at a writing residency on the other side of the world.

As well as this, I’ve also made connections with the most supportive and interesting people that I have ever come across. People who give up their weekends to write reference letters, and who do everything in their power to get you ahead. I can’t even count on my fingers the number of people who have offered to read my work and give me feedback, even for years after I graduate.

Studying a BFA in creative writing has improved my creative writing, and that’s all I was expecting from it. I chose this degree for the knowledge, rather than the qualification.

Maybe this degree won’t lead me to the perfect day job, and I’m not expecting everything to just fall into place. But the past three years have been the happiest and most fulfilling years of my life. For me, that makes it all worth it.

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Relocating for Work?

Hi everyone,

I hope you’re well. As you may know, I am graduating from my Creative and Professional Writing course at university at the end of this year. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’m going to be doing next year, and how I’m going to finance my life. As I was job hunting for availabilities in Brisbane, I realised that there really isn’t a lot here for creative writers and editors. Lately I’ve been thinking about relocating from Brisbane to Melbourne to try my hand at getting an editorial job down there. There are so many more opportunities, but also about double the competition, so I’m very torn.

I do love Brisbane, but I kind of feel like it’s my “uni” city, if that makes sense. It’s perfect for my university time, as a kind of transition from small-town Cairns, but it doesn’t really feel quite right for me. I know that if I were working here, I would always be thinking about where else I could be exploring. I’ve been lucky enough to travel to Europe a couple of times, but I have never actually lived outside of Queensland, Australia. I’d love to live in England for a period of time, and maybe visit my Swiss roots, but I do feel like Australia will always be my home.

The creative scene down in Melbourne is a lot more vivacious and happening than what we have in Brisbane, which, in a way, has lessened Brisbane’s creative scene’s ability to grow. A lot of the young creatives leave as soon as they’ve finished their degrees, because of the limited opportunities, and this stops new opportunities from coming about.

I’m still not certain, but I feel like I will definitely need a change of scene next year. I’m excited and nervous and a little scared. If you feel like you’re at a dead end in your current city, but you’re afraid to leave friends and family, I hope my experience will help you make your decision. I’ll be blogging all about the move next year on my lifestyle blog, if it does end up happening.

It will be quite daunting to leave my friends, and move even further away from my family, but getting a job that I really love is so important to me. I am the kind of person that easily feels restless and frustrated if I’m doing work that isn’t important to me, so I know that “just doing something” is not an option. Besides, I’m excited for a new adventure.

Yours sincerely,

Tamara Drazic

Dealing With Self-Doubt While Pursuing a Creative Career

Hi everyone,

Thank you so much for sticking with me during this busy time. I know I’m not posting as regularly as I’d like, but now that the first issue of Spinebind is out (finally), I’ll have more time to focus on this blog.

Today I want to talk about self-doubt, particularly surrounding career paths. As you may know, I’m studying Creative and Professional Writing at university, and I’m really enjoying it. I want to write books, personal essays, columns, articles, web content, and poetry, and I also want to edit fiction and non fiction, and write manuscript assessments for publishing houses. There are jobs available, and although it’s going to be hard, I think I’ll be able to get a job that I love. So why is it that I used to just add “it’s like journalism” after telling people what I study? Why was I so scared of telling people I was studying something creative? I think it was because I didn’t want people to think that I thought I’d make it. I was afraid of seeming like I believed in myself.

I also had a habit of mocking myself, so other people wouldn’t do it.

“I don’t have a plan, I study creative writing.”

“I’m used to being unemployed, I study creative writing.”

“Don’t ask me, I study creative writing.”

This sort of thinking doesn’t help anyone with anything, least of all yourself. In the past year I’ve come to realise that the people who try to tear you down and who think badly of you for trying to reach your goals really shouldn’t matter to you. It doesn’t mean they’re bad people. I think we’re all guilty of looking at other people’s life choices and measuring them up against our own. I just mean that other people’s opinions shouldn’t have control over how you feel, or the goals that you set, or the career that you pursue. In the end, it’s your life, and yours alone.

If you are struggling with self-doubt, I’ve found it really helps to look at your intentions. You want to achieve something. You want to do what you love every day. You want to try, even though you know it might not work out. That’s pretty admirable, in my opinion.

So next time you tell someone what you want to do with your life, don’t mock yourself. Don’t feel stupid. Don’t think about what the other person is thinking. My lecturer read us this quote just last week:

“We’re all failures, at least the best of us are.”     – J.M. Barrie

No creative person will go through life without failing at some point. In fact, no person in general will always succeed at everything. And that’s ok.

I hope this helped at least a little bit. I think that self-doubt and fearing other people’s opinions is just a part of learning what is really important. Be proud of yourself that you believe in yourself enough to pursue what you love, and don’t give up.

I’d love to hear your stories, so if you’d like to share, please feel free to start up a discussion in the comments section.

Thanks so much for reading.

Yours sincerely,

Tamara