A week in the life of a postgraduate creative writing student
MA Creative Writing student Jennifer Pickering shares a typical week for her as a postgraduate student at Surrey.
The following timetable is a personal example - for the latest module information, visit the English literature and creative writing subject page and select your degree programme.
Monday mornings are usually reserved for relaxing (aka lay-ins!) or exercise. Two of the best ways to start the week on the right foot!
Around 11am I’ll check through my university emails and SurreyLearn to make sure there isn’t anything I’ve missed and to make sure I’m up to date with everything I need for lectures.
Sometime later I will either venture into town for lunch with a friend or grab something quick whilst settling down to do some reading. Right now, that includes some of my favourite childhood stories for Children’s Literature.
The evening usually includes some more reading, ready for a busy day of lectures on Tuesday, and going onto SOUPS to book parking and print permits for the following week.
Tuesday is my most hectic day. Living off site, I have to be up and ready to leave by 7.30am to be at university for 9am. This is where SOUPS is great, I’ve yet to have trouble finding a spot and it’s affordable as well.
9am to 1pm includes two lectures (Research and Writing Skills, and Creative Writing Workshop).
From 1pm to 2pm I’ll either have lunch at one of the onsite cafes, including a choice of Starbucks, or head to the library to collect books and make use of the study spaces.
2pm to 4pm concludes my lectures for the week (Literary Scholarship and Creativity, and Children’s Literature).
The rest of my evening includes travelling home and some well-deserved downtime after a busy day.
"Writing is my favourite part of the course. I usually find I am at my most creative at night time, so at least once or twice a week I find myself staying up later than usual stuck in the middle of an idea."
The mornings are usually spent going over lecture notes from the day before and making a to-do list for the next three days.
Usually my to-do list will consist of reading, research and writing. I then prioritise my work by deadlines and importance.
Finally, I will try and balance it all out so that I have some research, writing and reading to do each day. The rest of my day is then spent going through my to-do list and trying to tick off as many tasks as I can.
Thursday starts with, you guessed it, going through my to-do list. As always, this includes reading as it’s my preferred task to wake up my brain ready to tackle research. This then continues through the afternoon, often broken up with a short dog walk if I need a break.
The evening is often a chance to catch up with friends, either going for food or to catch a film, before heading home to some writing or reading.
Writing is my favourite part of the course. I usually find I am at my most creative at night time, so at least once or twice a week I find myself staying up later than usual stuck in the middle of an idea.
Friday mornings follow the same pattern however, I typically use the bulk of my day a little differently.
With a creative writing based course, inspiration is needed in large quantities so I usually try and spend one afternoon away from my computer building ideas for future projects. This can include walking in the Surrey Hills, jumping on a train to London or even just popping to a local café to daydream and people watch!
Once I get home, I will jot down moments of inspiration from my day before completing some of the research or reading from my to-do list.
In the morning, I get ready and head to work. Having a part-time job whilst studying is possible if you make sure you use the time around it wisely. I would not recommend working full-time with a full-time course but a few hours on the weekends is achievable.
The evening again is spent completing any work I’ve set myself for the week and making a head start on the next week if I can.
Again, I spend Sunday mornings at work. The rest of my day then includes laundry, meal prep for the week ahead and yet more reading!