Bryony is fine tuning her skills as a creative writer

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Single parent Bryony Derrett is in the final year of the BA (Hons) English and Creative Writing degree at USW. The course is her stepping stone to becoming a secondary school teacher.

"My favourite part of the course is the creative writing element. I love being able to write freely and my passion lies with non-fiction and short stories. My dissertation is where I’ve gained the most enjoyment. You get the option to focus either on literature or creative writing. I was inspired to do a non-fiction piece on my daughter.

Throughout the different modules, there are workshops where you bring along an extract of your writing and read it out to class. They then provide you with feedback. When you're pleased with your work, it can be difficult to take criticism but by doing so your writing will improve dramatically. The whole concept can be a little daunting at first, but everyone on the course is in the same position as you, and it certainly helps you fine tune your skills as a writer.

As a single parent, the course has been challenging at times. I’ve had to juggle the workload with raising my little girl. Staff have recognised the difficulties I’ve had and they’ve supported me throughout. Barrie Llewellyn, the course leader, has been amazing. She’s been there when I’ve needed someone to talk to and she’s also been firm when I’ve needed a kick!

Even though my interest lies with creative writing, combining this with English is imperative for me to be able teach in a secondary school after I graduate. It also widens my career options. Once I’ve completed a PGCE, landed a position within teaching, I’m hoping to return to USW to do the MPhil in Writing.

My top five tips for getting the most out of the course

  • Jot all your ideas down
  • Don’t leave your workshop preparation to the last minute
  • Remember that it’s just as important to focus on your English assignments as the creative writing ones
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help
  • Take on board the feedback you receive from your tutors and peers - it really helps you to improve your craft