Monday, January 27, 2014

Mentoring on our unique MA programme

A new innovation we've introduced on the Creative Writing MA at Edinburgh Napier Unveristy is a module called Creative and Editorial Development. In the past we offered students six hours of one-to-one mentoring, but this happened outside teaching modules. 

Now we have transformed mentoring into a long, thin module that runs over two trimesters - and it earns every student credits towards their MA. The new module has only been running for one trimester so far, but the results have been very encouraging.

We think mentoring is a crucial part of each student’s learning journey, preparing them for life as a self-sufficient writer when they will be working one-to-one with an editor, agent, artist, development executive, script editor or another creative collaborator.

We've also introduced a teaching internship scheme. Graduates from the last cohort are leading study groups and using their experiences on the course to help current students. We asked the interns to talk about the value of mentoring on our unique MA course.

Errol Rivera: “Mentoring is what makes this course unique. It helps not to think of your mentoring sessions as a personal workshop. When I stopped expecting answers or approval from my tutors, we started working like partners and some amazing things happened. What could have been a lesson become a conversation. Like everything else on this course, the focus is development - not solipsism.

Laura Clements:If you're serious about taking your writing further as a career, it's important to throw yourself into the editorial relationship.  The first thing you have to do is identify a purpose for yourself as a writer and a purpose for your writing. This isn’t something that you will necessarily be able to set in stone at the offset, but it will evolve with the progression of your work over the year. Mentoring is the environment in which this can happen.

Nicole Brandon: “It sounds strange to think of having a conversation as a professional skill, but you're here to learn how to be a professional writer and part of that craft involves words off the page, too. Being able to put together a conversation about your craft, your work and your future is just as important as being able to put together any piece of writing. Without being able to contribute to – and, sometimes, direct – these conversations, you'll have a tough time being taken at your due as a professional writer. How else can people know what you're about, if you can't tell them?”

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