On keeping the momentum going after the MA, by Zoe Gilbert

 

What happens when you finish a creative writing MA?

You might feel:

  • like a writer
  • like a completely different person from the one that started the course
  • knackered
  • elated
  • under pressure to finish your book
  • suddenly rather alone with that project…

There’s nothing like a creative writing MA to build up a band of writers to support you, challenge you, even annoy you – but the point is, they are there. You can share the gripes, gossip, celebration, envy. You can share your work.

Emerging from an MA with a certificate and many thousands of words under your belt is wonderful. If that’s you, congratulations! It is also a bit scary. Only a few taught postgraduate courses will have seen you through to a full draft of a novel, short story collection or memoir. If you’re halfway through writing a book, you’re also at the point of greatest agony for most writers.

Almost every author we know has a tale of woe that begins at around the 30,000-word mark of their first draft. The idea starts to fall apart. It’s too early to talk to their editor. They hate the book. Some of them suffer; some give up and start something else instead – be that a different book or learning to knit/make beer/keep bees.

If you’ve been writing your book as part of an MA, you’ve had deadlines, feedback, peer pressure, a dedicated tutor. These things create momentum, sometimes painfully, but as you know, it works. The feeling of progress, of becoming a better writer, is even better than knitting, brewing or keeping bees. Then, somehow, you have to create this feeling on your own.

Since this is hard, and since we’ve had so many conversations with creative writing MA students and graduates that turn to this dread topic, we’ve decided to do something about it.

We started London Lit Lab to help other writers – through teaching, mentoring, critiquing, whatever we can do that’s needed. We’re both published authors as well as Creative Writing PhD students, so we each have a foot in the worlds of publishing and the academy.

This October we’re starting monthly critical workshops for writers finishing their MAs. These will be in an eight-month block initially, but if our students want to carry on after that, we will run further sessions.

Members will take turns to share work-in-progress ahead of each workshop, which we’ll then critique during the session, with constructive feedback and discussion on any problems or issues raised. We’ll also be arranging a guest speaker such as an agent, writer or editor, to help group members break into the industry.

There will be sessions in London (led by Zoe), and in Bristol/Bath (led by Lily). We’re aiming to build strong, supportive groups with MA graduates from a range of universities – so as well as our own, you’ll get fresh eyes on your work.

For more details, including times, cost and location for the London group (Bristol/Bath venue tbc), take a look on the London Lit Lab post-MA course page. You can also drop us a line at info@londonlit.co.uk.

We’d also love to hear from you if you’d like to see a group like this set up nearer you, now or in the future.

Whatever your plans post-MA, we wish you luck. And remember, when it comes to writing, you don’t have to do it alone!

August 9, 2017
continuing-to-write-group-writing

Continuing to Write Post-MA with London Lit Lab

On keeping the momentum going after the MA, by Zoe Gilbert
August 3, 2017
jindal-k-blog

The Reluctant Commentator by Kavita A. Jindal

Kavita A. Jindal discusses the influence of politics on her writing.
July 19, 2017
sots4-to-print

Sorrows of the Sun by Sogol Sur

Sogol Sur talks to Aisha Phoenix about her poetry collection Sorrows of the Sun.
October 20, 2016
SS-480

Stefanie Seddon wins the 2016 Bristol Short Story Prize

The 2016 Bristol Short Story Prize has been won by Stefanie Seddon, who has just completed an M.A. in Creative Writing at Birkbeck, University of London. The Prize is a prestigious international writing competition open to writers worldwide which is now in its 9th year, and received 2,160 entries this year. […]
June 27, 2016

Akram’s War

AKRAM’S WAR by Nadim Safdar is published by Atlantic Books and available here. Nadim shares his first chapter with us and discusses writing on the Birkbeck Blog.
June 13, 2016

The Girl in the Glass Tower

Elizabeth Fremantle shares an extract from her novel The Girl in the Glass Tower. The novel came out on June 2nd and is available here. Elizabeth talks about writing on the Birkbeck Blog.
June 6, 2016

Walleye Junction

Karin Salvalaggio shares an extract from her novel Walleye Junction. The novel, which came out on May 10th,  continues her Macy Greeley Mysteries series. Karin talks about writing on the Birkbeck Blog.
May 30, 2016

The Otherlife

The Otherlife by Julia Gray comes out on July 7th with Anderson Press. Julia shares the first chapter of the novel with us and discusses her writing process on the Birkbeck Blog.
May 23, 2016

They Are Trying To Break Your Heart

David Savill’s novel They Are Trying To Break Your Heart came out last month with Bloomsbury Publishing and is available here. David shares an extract with us and talks about the novel and his writing process on the Birkbeck blog.
May 16, 2016

The Art of Not Breathing

Sarah Alexander’s debut novel, The Art of Not Breathing was released on April 1st and is available to purchase here. She shares her first chapter with us as part of our published alumni series. Sarah talks about the novel and her writing experiences in  interview which you can read on the Birkbeck Website.
April 26, 2016

We Go Around In The Night And Are Consumed By Fire

An extract from Chapter One of We Go Around In The Night And Are Consumed By Fire by Jules Grant, out on 28th April with Myriad Editions.