Stop badmouthing Creative Writing – it’s a real degree

Bill Shakespeare said: ‘I’ll call for pen and ink and write my mind’

After reading the title of this article, you may be thinking: “Here we go, another wannabe F Scott Fitzgerald trying to justify his useless life choices. Creative writing isn’t something that can be taught, so why defend it as a viable degree?” Before you write me off though, let me establish that this will not be a rant. If you’re looking for a fight you won’t find one here because, if you’re dense enough to take this article as an insult to your existence – to quote the great Bo Burnham – “I apologise. Immediately.”

Put that croissant on a plate fam, you'll get ants

Put that croissant on a plate fam, you’ll get ants

It’s an invaluable life skill

It’s an indisputable fact that writing is a way of making sense of the world around us. Even non-writers appreciate creative writing in some form, be it reading novels, poetry, or even watching films. Someone had to write the scripts for your favourite movies and TV shows, and that someone is – by nature of the job they’re doing – a creative writer. Creative writing is a crucial component in a functioning society and as such it stands to reason that a valid university degree should be made of it.

Creative writing degrees are well-known to teach various transferrable skills that can be used across sectors such as publishing, editorial and even marketing. Since much of the degree involves close reading, writers also make decent analysts. This isn’t just me instigating a baseless argument; I recently read an article by Geoff Mills on the Guardian’s website entitled Is a creative writing degree worth the money? By citing various industry experts, he makes the point that when applying for a job, evidence of a candidate’s creativity is often more important than academic success.

Dabbing away the reader feels, circa '16

Dabbing away the reader feels, circa ’16

‘Creative writing can’t be taught’ – yes, it can

As for the ‘creative writing can’t be taught’ argument, I can say to the contrary that it absolutely can. I’ve just started my second year at uni and I’ve already seen an improvement in my own writing. Teaching oneself how to write is useful, but without actually studying it at uni, I never would have stretched my mind by writing out of my comfort zone. Most of my assignments have encouraged me to do so.

Now, I neither despise nor question the necessity of ‘non-creative’ degrees like economics, history, zoology and et cetera. Unfortunately, there seems to be a constant battle between the arts and ‘normal’ jobs. This fight has been rendered a pointless one though because nowadays, the call for the creative thinker in non-creative sectors is higher than ever.

Perhaps most of us are doomed to never understand those on the other side of the fence; I confess that I have a hard time imagine doing a job branded as ‘non-creative’. However, there’s a beauty in that: if we all understood each other with ease and never had anything to learn from one another, what would be the point of coexistence?

Good writing is 70% observation and 30% writing

Good writing is 70% observation and 30% writing

We live in an age in which everyone is expected to be an outright success in their chosen field and where society places a high value on monetary accomplishment. This makes the simple act of studying a subject that one enjoys a mere afterthought. I’m doing what I like, and I can only hope that you are as well. At the end of the day, studying something you hate simply because it opens the door to high-paying jobs can only be worse than studying creative writing.