The Curse of Creativity

Finding a job is hard.

If you’re a graduate, it can sometimes seem like an impossible task.  You’ve finished your education and it’s time to start the next big chapter in your life, but where do you go?

Perhaps your path is clear.

You’ve just finished a degree in Education, for instance, and now the next logical step is to find yourself a teaching position.  Maybe it was a degree in Accountancy, or Law, or another subject where the transition from study to employment is relatively clear-cut (excluding availability for such jobs and other similar factors).

Degrees can be divided between those that are conventional, that are likely to lead to jobs providing a steady income, and those that aren’t so much.

As a graduate of the Arts, my degree certainly falls into the latter of those two categories.

Creative Writing, along with many other courses in the Faculty of Arts, isn’t always taken seriously, and I’ve admitted to various friends who have studied history, science, nursing, and other similar degrees that my course doesn’t compare to theirs.  Not because creative writing is ‘easy’ and ‘anyone can do it’, but simply because it’s on a different academic level.

This post is not about arguing the merits of my degree though, although that may come another day.  The point that I want to make is that not everyone leaves university knowing what profession they want to head into, and for those of us whose interests lie in the more creative industries, this can be extremely difficult.

When you’re young, you always have these dream jobs that you believe you’ll be doing sometime in the future.  As you grow older, the wilder career choices (like being an astronaut) tend to fizzle out, and you start to form a more practical idea of where you want to be in 20/30/40 years.

I was never one to really know what I wanted to be, not even at the age when being a vet for mythical creatures was a realistic aspiration.

IMG_20150611_160455.jpgArt was always my favourite subject at school, and I had considered following that path until sixth form when I realised I was a bit of a one-trick pony.  Pencil drawings wouldn’t have gotten me through the A-Level, let alone a whole degree, so I quickly dropped that subject and changed to psychology; a move that I definitely didn’t regret.

It wasn’t long after that that my interest in creative writing picked up, and before I knew it I was attending university open days with the hope of studying it at degree level.  Fast forward a couple of years and I’m now a graduate in the subject with First Class Honours.

But what now?

It can be hard to know which path to follow when there seem to be so many, yet so few, available to you at the same time.

I always say to people that whilst my degree may not mean something the same way a science or a business degree might, it shows that I have high quality skills in basic areas that many jobs require.  After spending three years studying this degree I am confident that I know my way around the English Language, and how to use it to my advantage.  Therefore, any position where this is an important part of the job is one that I am already highly-skilled for.

If you look at it like that then the choice for work seems endless.

But it’s not.

In fact it’s quite the opposite.

The main focus of my studies were the three core mediums of writing – fiction, poetry and script.  I spent months writing all these different stories, poems and plays, but everyone knows that the career of a published writer is hard to get into, and even harder to maintain.  It almost never provides a sustainable income from which to live off of, and finding success can often come down to simply being lucky.

The career I’m mostly trained for is the one I’ll potentially never have.

And the case is similar with many other artistic degrees, with the core focus (such as acting for instance) often the least viable option.

So why am I talking about this?

To voice my concern, I suppose.  I’m at a crossroads in my life and there’s hundreds of paths to follow, the only problem is working out which path is the right one for me to follow.

Do I go into publishing?  Work for a magazine?  There are so many jobs out there that I’m potentially skilled enough for, and that I’d be interested to learn from, but which one of them is going to fuel my fire?

Nothing about my educational aspirations up to this point have been straightforward, so there’s no reason why that would ever change.  I could’ve easily gone down the traditional route and trained for a career that I knew I wanted from a young age.  Sometimes I wish I had.  Things would feel less out of control right now that’s for certain.

But I didn’t.  And now I must choose something.

Creative degrees are a brilliant experience, but make sure you know where you want it to (realistically) take you before you graduate.

You’ll regret it otherwise.

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