What were your career aspirations when you joined UEA – did you / know what you wanted to do?
I wanted to be a writer, I was not sure exactly how that would translate into a career.
How did you get to where you are now? Was there anything that / particularly helped?
I studied Creative Writing with English Literature, which allowed me to explore my writing creatively without fear of failure, and assess what worked well in other literary works. I then did a MA in Creative Entrepreneurship which set me up with the skills to become self employed, and instilled in me the tenacity you need to succeed in writing. You’re often faced with rejection and I became accustomed to that.
The best thing about my job is…
As an author, seeing my books go out into the world, reading the lovely reviews and seeing that people really got what I was trying to say is wonderful. As a content writer, it’s a similar thing – seeing a marketing campaign I’ve created reach people, or an article I’ve created help someone feel more in control is really brilliant. It’s amazing to see the reach of a writer, and the change they can affect.
The biggest challenge in my job is…
As an author, people think if you’re not super famous or super rich, you can’t really be a writer. But that’s not true – there are loads of mid level writers out there doing this as a job. Just because you haven’t heard of someone doesn’t mean they don’t have their own fanbase. As a content writer, I suppose it’s having to deep dive into social media and the news – it can be a little overwhelming or depressing.
What does it take to do your job (skills, strengths, etc)?
The ability to see the possibility for story in everything. Being happy to take criticism and rewrite something five or six times, or to look at the same piece and adapt it for a different audience. You have to be able to think practically as well as creatively – yes, that’s a great idea, but who is it for, and what will their response be? Writing has a great power to make people feel and act, you have to work out what you want people to do. So I guess thinking strategically and not getting distracted.
What do you think sets you apart from your colleagues?
If there is something I can learn, I want to get involved. That means I started as a content writer, but actually I’m a content creator – I make videos, images, sound bites, campaigns and lots more. I take on free courses so I can learn the code that can help me present my work well on a website, or content marketing strategies that can support my work and my books. As I was self employed after I first graduated, I’m used to working more than everyone else – when I finish my 9-5 I go home and write for a few hours. It’s probably not great for work-life balance, but it’s allowed me to write 13 novels in 6 years.
What personal achievement are you most proud of?
I have a day job I love, I get to write books I’m proud of, and I’ve found a lovely community around me. I’ve recently got a literary agent and will be moving in a different direction with my writing, which is exciting. It’s great to be able to explore new things and continue to grow and experiment.
Where are you heading next?
I want to keep learning as much about marketing as I can, to work on slightly more intense book projects and to see where that takes me. I also recently finished an MSc in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes, where I studied the therapeutic uses of creative writing when working with women with eating disorders. I’d like to take that research further into a project or series of workshops, because it’s amazing what creativity can do.
How did UEA prepare you for your career/help you make decisions?
I met a lot of people who were equally as driven and enjoyed being creative, which gave me space to grow. I still use the analysis elements of my BA – I look at how writing works and how I can improve my own. Thinking critically when researching and dealing with news all day is also necessary. The MA in Creative Entrepreneurship helped me to think about branding myself, as well as helping me develop a work ethic that has served me well.
Since leaving UEA, have you taken any further qualifications, if so / what are they?
I have finished an MSc in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes at the Metanoia Institute. I’ve also continued my professional development with a variety of marketing qualifications.
What made you decide to study your particular course?
I always wanted to write, it was what I was good at, and UEA was the best for creative writing.
My best day at UEA was…
Probably one of those sunny days down by the lake!
What are your top tips for current students, or anyone considering / studying at UEA?
Pick a university for your own reasons, not to stay near your friends or study something other people tell you is a good idea. Follow your passions.
What do you think was distinctive about your UEA experience?
It was friendly and there were so many people who were full of passion.
The most important thing I learnt at UEA was…
How to talk to people, I’m still great friends with the people I met in the kitchen in my flat!