With every passing year, more people go into higher education, and the inevitable consequence is that competition for degree-level employment keeps getting hotter.
In turn, this pushes up the value of postgraduate study – if you aspire to reach the highest level of your chosen field, continuing your education is a powerful way to show your commitment and level of skill.
But although the practical benefits are obvious for certain types of postgraduate course, they’re a little more obscure for others. Creative writing is an excellent example of this. Given the general unpredictability of the wider creative industry, and the inconsistency of available work, it’s reasonable to wonder what exactly you could accomplish by taking a postgraduate creative writing course — so let’s take a look at just that.
Find your writing niche
One of the key differences between undergraduate and postgraduate creative writing studies is the extent to which your workload and direction can be personalised. At undergraduate level, you’re deepening your understanding of broad principles, not delving too deeply into anything specific. At postgraduate level, you have the opportunity to focus keenly on the genre and style of your choice, getting relevant support along the way. This is extremely valuable for your long-term career prospects, because it helps you to start forging your personal brand. What will set you apart? How will you market your services? Approach the course in the right way, and you’ll emerge with a clear plan.
Build a compelling portfolio
Working on a postgraduate creative writing course will see you study theory and learn about the writing business, but that’s not the bulk of what you’ll be doing. For the most part, appropriately, you’ll be writing — writing, rewriting, editing, proofing, and producing high-level work. And this work isn’t only useful for developing your skills. It’s also useful in itself as material for an advanced portfolio demonstrating your capabilities. And make no mistake: portfolio work is a big deal in the creative world. Experience might get you ahead in other fields, but creative positions are less about the positions you’ve held and more about the things you’ve achieved. At the end of a postgraduate creative writing course, you’ll have plenty of completed pieces of work to show prospective employers what you can do.
Network with other creatives
Personal networking is important in almost any industry you can mention, and it’s particularly significant in creative fields because so many artistic projects are fundamentally collaborative. When you’re working alongside someone, you need to be comfortable in their company, and able to understand the points they’re trying to make. All else being equal, someone you know is always going to be preferable to someone you don’t. While you’re working on a postgraduate creative writing course, you’re going to be surrounded by others who are determined to make it in the creative world, and that’s going to set you up with worthwhile connections. You can then supplement these peer connections with mentorship — for instance, one of the online writing courses with Jericho offers bespoke mentoring from novelist Daren King. In time, you can establish a web of connections throughout the creative world, giving you near-endless inspiration and all the support you need to develop.
Target the publishing industry
There are various corners of the creative world that you’re better equipped to enter with a high-level creative writing degree, but the publishing industry in particular is a strong fit. This is because the skills you develop on your course will give you a keen understanding of how genres operate, and publishers always need people capable of usefully categorising literature. Why would you want to take this route? Well, getting a foothold in the publishing industry gives you a lot of viable prospects. You could use your skills to help other authors succeed, of course, but you could also continue working on your own project, knowing that you’d have relevant connections when you finished drafting. You could even reach out to other inexperienced authors to propose collaborations. It’s one of the best niches to enter for a fresh writer.
Getting a postgraduate degree in creative writing won’t guarantee you a place as a Hollywood screenwriter, of course, but it will help you grow as a writer, assemble an extensive portfolio, build valuable connections, and get your foot on the ladder of the publishing world. The opportunities are there — the rest is up to you.