March 10, 2020, by aeyaebr
How to boost a creative writing application
By Annie Brown, MA Creative Writing student blogger
To write or not to write: isn’t that always the question? When I first wrote my application for my MA in Creative Writing at the University of Nottingham, I realised it was severely lacking. My ‘passion’ for my subject was not reflected in my real-life experiences. I knew I needed to enhance my application. Here are some of my best tips to boost your application and demonstrate your authentic interest in your subject.
Tip 1: Avoid the clichés
In the first draft of my piece, I realised I had used the phrase ‘I have a passion for’ about a million times. It’s a filler phrase, used when you don’t have enough evidence to support the point you’re trying to make. Similarly, ‘I love’, ‘I have enthusiasm for’ and ‘ever since childhood’ are such common phrases they’re sure to reduce an otherwise brilliant application to mediocre.
Show off the quality of your writing and use original phrases and examples. Stay away from the cliché.
Tip 2: Reference yourself
While your creative writing experience is essential, it is not the only thing tutors look for. The ability to write critically is also a key skill necessary to succeed in an application. So demonstrate when and why you have done this.
In my application, I referenced some of my most successful essays, group projects and academic interests, demonstrating the versatility of my writing. Remember, creative writing encompasses a large amount of other writing than merely fictional. Make sure to show off your versatility.
Tip 3: Your own experience
The creative writing you enjoy doing should be the bulk of your application. Having a wide scope of your own achievements is key. Mention in detail the blog you write for, the magazine you write for, or the play you produced. My application included my Wattpad profile and the poetry competition I won as part of the creative writing society.
Anything you have been doing independently shows your initiative within your subject, and certainly makes you stand out.
Tip 4: Get involved
The university you’re applying to will have lots going on related to your course. For me, Nottingham is a City of Literature which meant there are always events like Poetry Week going on. The University’s English society and creative writing society offer great opportunities to meet with similar minded people. You can discuss interests, get feedback on your work and inspire your next great novel.
Even better if you have been on the committee. Local bookshops like Waterstones, Five Leaves and Nottingham Contemporary offer great meet and greets with some of the best authors. I’ve met C.J. Tudor and Mhairi McFarlane and got to ask them all sorts of writing related questions.
Hands on experience with an author looks great on an application and shows the University you know what’s happening in their area.
Tip 5: Why this university?
Hopefully, you will have researched the course before you have applied. Specifically mentioning which modules and tutors interest you demonstrate a deeper commitment to the course. I described how the Learning to Publish module would give me greater knowledge of contemporary publishing. For me, the fiction workshop would enhance my knowledge of how to create fictional works in several genres. Researching the course tutors is also recommended as you can convey an excitement to be taught by them.
Providing a full and varied application will definitely prove your desire to study at your chosen university. Supporting this with relevant, independent experience is a great way to make yourself stand out and enhance your application.