Does formal training stifle or stimulate the creative process?
HOW FORMAL TRAINING IS HELPING TO SHAPE MY WRITING
Hammond House Member
Runner up in the 2016 International Literary Prize
Student at University Centre Grimsby
BSC (Hons) Professional and Creative Writing
Sometimes it just takes that first step, to dive into the unknown. You’ll either come away with treasure or nothing at all but you’ve learnt and you’ve tried. And let me tell you something, it is wonderful. When I began this chosen career path - my writing felt limitless albeit scatterbrained. Ideas shot all over my mind. The page stayed empty for years. If you will to write, you will write, I’m sure. However, can you write to a specific audience? Do you flavour your writing? Did you know of house styles, plot devices and foreshadowing? Can you, without fail, capture the reader like a genie in a bottle? The creative writing course at Grimsby University opened up old wounds and made me rediscover my passion for writing which died after depression set in. Without it, my confidence wouldn’t have improved enough to share my work and push myself into competition entries. I read before. I read ravenously now. I wrote before. I write feverishly now. It has become my lifeblood and when I do not write, my fingers twitch. While we have gone over some old ideas in the course, each has proved useful. Essential, even. It has been presented in a fresh way. This is largely due to excellent tutors and my peers who can see through even the largest veil: We share. We cooperate. We grow. Best of all, we debate and cut the fat. I see into an extra eight worlds… People of different ideas, interests in genre, opinions, advice and ability have surely helped in the process of this funny little thing called writing. One said I should turn my script into a short story, another voiced that something did not quite fit for them when reading one of my pieces. It’s like going to a publisher without fearing the brutality. The course has helped in expanding my horizons also, with dissections of film, analysis of comic books and introducing me to new genres. I won’t necessarily write in those nor will I necessarily dabble in those. However, I see the entire process as crafting a spine for which to walk on. Or a raft to escape the city. By chucking myself in the deep end, I’ve explored more and feel richer for it. The writing course is (pretty much) an academic club for writers to improve, craft and refine without the need of an anvil. We trade tips and secrets. Praise. Criticise gently. Voice loudly our thoughts. And keep our minds hush, fixed firmly on the paper. The course itself has helped me focus which is, for me, perhaps the most important thing. Added to new friends, hints, tips, knowledge, strategies and exercises. To focus is to breathe slow, say ‘Good Job’ and create a universe you will be proud of. I’m now striving towards a degree which is helped by deadlines, pushing up the pressure so that I can churn out work to a higher pedigree. When all is said and done, I believe that the Creative Writing degree at the Grimsby Institute has influenced my writing in ways both known and unknown. On one hand, it cultivates the seeds of writing. Breaks them down, sows them and builds upon them so we, as a group, can create our own masterpieces that have both their good and bad points. I’ve met many friendly people in the process which have in turn inspired me to use them in my own works. I feel better daily, knowing that I will achieve by the end. Each new assignment is a challenge - but certainly a doable one. Furthermore, it has introduced me to Hammond House to whom I am grateful for beyond measure. Thanks to them, I have further drive to share my writing with the world.