Published: October 8, 2020
Hi, my name is Emily Crosby. I graduated from the University of Sunderland in 2016. Fresh from a degree in English & Creative Writing, I didn’t exactly have a concrete plan in place for my career. I decided to study for a Master’s degree, but still had no real plan when I completed that in 2017. Then I discovered a job advert for an SEO & Copywriter. Three years later and I’ve never looked back.
Now in my third marketing role since graduating, I currently work for a Newcastle-based digital marketing agency called Venture Stream, who deliver website builds and award-winning marketing campaigns for a diverse range of clients. I spend the majority of my working day writing all kinds of content, from blog posts to brochures - pretty much the ideal job for anyone who loves to write.
Whilst many associate Creative Writing with novels and poetry, even I was surprised to find that so many of the skills and techniques I learned during my studies were transferable to a role in content marketing.
In this post, I’m going to run through how I use some of the skills and techniques acquired on a Creative Writing degree in my role as a PR & Content Executive, and the ways they’ve given me an edge in my career.
Tone of voice
One of the very first things you’ll study on a Creative Writing degree is tone of voice. Writing fiction in the first person requires you to know your protagonist inside out, how they speak, think and express themselves. When you’re writing copy for a brand, tone of voice is so important. A Creative Writing degree helps you to execute the desired tone via the use of sentence structure, word choice and style - it teaches you how to approach a piece of writing in a way that resonates with the reader. The tone has to be appropriate for the topic and the brand - it reminds me of writing character dialogue to an extent - you’re always thinking about how this person would speak and think.
In Medias Res
Anyone who's ever studied Creative Writing is bound to have heard the term In Medias Res once or twice. It’s actually a Latin phrase that translates to “in the middle of things”. If you start a story in the middle, you’re planting the reader in the action from the very first sentence, which many argue makes for a more compelling piece of writing. Whilst this is a term that exclusively refers to fiction, I’ve found it’s something that’s stuck with me and helped me when writing copy and blog posts for brands. Very few people want to read a long intro these days, so “planting them in the action” is something that I try to incorporate into my writing everyday, by beginning at the most interesting part of the piece.
Much of a Creative Writing degree is spent sitting around a table critiquing each other’s work. It’s something I found incredibly daunting when I first started university, but it actually taught me valuable skills. When you write for a living, especially in an agency setting, clients are going to offer their feedback on your work all the time, and no, it’s not always 100% positive. Being able to accept critique, take it on board and learn from it, without feeling offended, is vital to succeeding in any content writing role.
Exploring different points of view
Usually, point of view in fiction refers to the narrator’s perspective - how they see the world and the characters and scenarios that unfold within it. In non-fiction, it’s about the position you take in a discussion or on a certain issue. When writing for a specific audience, where age, gender and interests are taken into consideration, being able to write from your customer’s point of view definitely makes your content more relatable and relevant.
Editing & proofreading
As mentioned earlier, critiquing your classmates’ work is a big part of a Creative Writing degree. This really sharpens your editing and proofreading skills as you have to be able to look at a piece of content and provide feedback on how it could be improved. This can often be more difficult than it sounds, especially if you’ve got a really good piece of work in front of you, which means a strong attention to detail is a must. Editing and proofreading are usually on my list of daily tasks in my job at Venture Stream, for both my own and my colleagues’ work.
Story structure seems pretty straightforward on the surface - you have the beginning, the middle and the end. But how do you transition from one to the other, and how do you ensure the reader stays with you for the entire piece? Studying Creative Writing teaches you to really look at how you’re feeding the reader information, at what point you reveal certain facts and how the piece flows from one section to another. The number one rule when writing fiction is that your opening must “grip” the reader, and this is very much the case in copy or blog writing. Opening with a question, a surprising statistic or telling the reader a story or anecdote are all techniques I picked up during my studies and still use regularly to make my copy more compelling.
Creative writer to content marketer
If you’re a Creative Writing student or graduate who’s unsure of what to do career-wise, I highly recommend looking into content marketing roles. It’s a career path I wasn’t aware of when I was at university but wish I’d known about.
Newcastle is home to so many great marketing agencies, and demand for talented writers is on the rise. Whilst my Creative Writing abilities offered me a way in, the skills I’ve learned around SEO, PR and marketing in general have given me a career that’s challenging, rewarding and most of importantly, fun.
PR & Content Executive | Venture Stream
Topic: Advice and tips