I’m originally from Oswaldtwistle in Lancashire but Newcastle has been my home for the last four years. I have been part of the Christian Union throughout university. I love theatre and I often review theatre shows for Cuckoo Review magazine.
MA Creative Writing
Choosing postgraduate study
I wanted to dedicate a year of my time to writing. I had loved my undergraduate course and towards the end realised that it was the creative writing part of it that I was truly passionate about. I had grown a lot as a writer on the undergraduate course but I felt that there was so much more I had to learn. I’m a firm believer in studying simply for the joy of learning and that was the main reason I chose to do the course.
I had a great experience on the undergraduate course and knew that the MA would build on this. The ‘Writing for Children and Young Adults’ module was also a pull as Newcastle has a good reputation for writing for this audience and writing for children is the area I was most interested in. I was also very settled in the city itself, there’s so much exciting stuff going on in Newcastle both from a writer’s perspective and just as a place to live.
Studying at Newcastle
The thing I most enjoy about my course is getting the chance to dedicate so much of my time to something I love and am passionate about. I also love the fact that I keep discovering new things about writing and am being pushed to experiment in my work. I have recommended my course to friends who want to write and two of my friends are applying for it this year.
Although my undergraduate course required a lot of independent study I have had to be even more self-motivated on my Master’s. My classes are always 5pm – 7pm and so I had to get used to a new routine of making sure I did work during the day instead of procrastinating the whole day. I haven’t always got the balance right but it’s a good life skill to learn now. I did find that the workload increased but I enjoy what I’m doing more because it is what I’m passionate about and it is never overwhelming. The class sizes have been nice and small, in one module there are only five of us and so we are all very familiar with each other’s work as we have seen each piece develop. Every week we are able to share what we have been working on and our tutor has plenty of time for each of us. Outside of the course I have had the opportunity to plan and lead creative writing sessions with high school children through the Lit and Phil’s Young Writers Award. They were specifically looking for creative writing Master’s students and so this is an opportunity I wouldn’t have had without the course.
We have created a Facebook page for our course where we share events, competitions and writing opportunities that we think may be of interest to others. We also use it to ask questions about assignments or share things we are struggling with on the course. Getting feedback on work is very important in creative writing and so I often organise to meet up with others on the course to critique work. The postgraduate common room in the Percy Building is my favourite place to do work. There are more than enough computers and work spaces so I never struggle to find somewhere to sit. It is completely silent which is just what I need to study, but there is also a kitchen and common room where you can sit and chat to others.
I live in a rented house in a charming area of Newcastle called Sandyford. It is easy to get accommodation in Newcastle, I have friends who have waited until May and still been able to get a lovely house close to the University. I have four flatmates who I knew from my time as an undergraduate and our rent is £78 per person per week, which is cheaper than most of my friends at other Universities. The housing in Newcastle is not only cheap but good quality, you can find really nice houses for a decent price if you look around.
Living in Newcastle
I love Newcastle and am planning to stay here after I graduate. The thing I enjoy most is that you get the best of everything: city, coast and countryside. There’s always plenty going on, there are lots of local events such as food markets and book festivals as well as great theatre, concerts and museums. The Quayside is one of my favourite parts of the city, it looks beautiful lit up at night. I had never lived in a city before I moved here but Newcastle is not at all daunting. People are very friendly and you can easily walk anywhere or catch the Metro if you want to go further afield. The coast is only 20 minutes away on the Metro, there are sandy beaches, famous castles and stunning countryside. I was nervous before moving here that I wouldn’t find enough to do as Newcastle is famed for its amazing nightlife, which is not really my scene. It turns out that there is so much more to Newcastle than just clubbing though: from dog and cat cafes to cinema nights at a teahouse, karaoke and boutique bowling to an Egyptian themed escape room there really is something to satisfy everyone!
Funding my studies
I receive the postgraduate student loan from the government. Everyone can apply for the maximum amount of loan for postgraduate studies which is great as it covered my fees and most of my rent, bills etc. To cover my living costs I also used money I had saved from my summer job and I took on a number of paid roles through the University such as student and postgraduate ambassador, postgraduate demonstrator and accommodation tour guide. The work is varied and offers some great experience for my CV. It’s also very flexible, I pick and choose the shifts I want to do so it fits well with my studies.
I don’t have a definitive career in mind for after graduation. I love working with young people which is an area I’ve now got a lot of experience in thanks to my job as a student ambassador. With regards to my writing career, the practical experience of being mentored in the craft of writing and being pushed to try new types of writing has been invaluable. Some people struggle to understand why you would do postgraduate study in the arts or argue that you can’t really be trained in creative writing but as one of my tutors once said, even if someone was very musically gifted you wouldn’t give them an instrument they had never played before and then complain they were terrible. You’d expect them to be taught how to play it and to practise a lot. It’s the same with writing, being trained properly in the craft is essential. Writers can spend thousands on creative writing conferences and workshops so getting a student loan and using it for some quality teaching seemed sensible.
I had a really encouraging tutorial with one of my tutors. She told me that I had a real talent for writing and should make sure that I keep working hard in order to go the whole way! She really built my confidence up and it spurred me to keep going when I found assignments tough. She also recommended a creative writing Spring School in Newcastle, it was good that she told me about it in advance because apparently it books up really quickly.
Don’t tell yourself that you’re not clever or academic enough, not from the right background or won’t fit into a postgraduate environment because it’s not true. If you want to do further study then go for it! I can’t recommend Newcastle University or my course enough, I’ve loved it and I really don’t want to leave. I’d really recommend coming to an open day and visiting the city, you never truly know what somewhere is like until you’ve seen it yourself. Meet the tutors and current students and ask lots of questions.