The Student Room Group

English Literature or creative writing to be a writer?

I'm due to start an English Literature degree in September with hopes of becoming a fiction writer. I know you don't need a degree to be a writer but I want to study English because I like it. Some people have said creative writing is better but since I don't know anyone with this degree I'd like to know:

1. What do you learn in a creative writing degree?
2. Is it worth it in the long run?
3. Am I at a disadvantage doing English literature?
In an English lit degree your essays and work will involve analysis and critique of other people’s writing. In a creative writing degree that analysis work will be focused and limited and linked to exercising your own creative writing skills - so you might look at a novel/poem/screenplay to discuss the techniques used and then write your own short piece that uses those same techniques.
If you want to be a writer then a creative writing degree will help you to develop your skills and writing as part of the degree. Whereas in an English lit degree you may find yourself studying topics that don’t interest you and you will only be able to work on improving your writing skills in your free time.
Original post by EH34
I'm due to start an English Literature degree in September with hopes of becoming a fiction writer. I know you don't need a degree to be a writer but I want to study English because I like it. Some people have said creative writing is better but since I don't know anyone with this degree I'd like to know:

1. What do you learn in a creative writing degree?
2. Is it worth it in the long run?
3. Am I at a disadvantage doing English literature?


Hi @EH34,

I'm a fourth-year English Literature and Creative Writing student at Lancaster University, so I study both the subjects you're mentioning! In the creative writing side of my degree, we're basically taught to hone our writing craft through a variety of different techniques, mediums and skills. We have the opportunity to pursue our favoured mediums (poetry, prose, etc) and have weekly workshops where we annotate each other's work and learn from style models.

This is very different to English Literature, where we provide theoretical and critical analyses on a number of different texts. However, many of the skills learnt in English Literature are extremely useful for Creative Writing, too! For example, you'll be developing your critical thinking and problem solving skills, which you can then apply to your own work. And, of course, most importantly, you'll be reading and critiquing the work of others, which might inform your own!

I also want to be a writer, so I chose to do a creative writing degree, which I absolutely love. However, the vast majority of published authors out there don't have a creative writing degree (or even an English Literature degree, necessarily), so I wouldn't worry about not doing it for your course. English Literature is a fantastic degree to study at university and provides numerous opportunities once you graduate. It certainly doesn't shut the door on being a writer, either!

If you have any questions, let me know,

Maria :smile: - Lancaster University Student Ambassador

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