How To Get a 2.2 in Creative Writing

2016 Edit: In case you were wondering... I'm now 27. I have a job. My student debt has just dipped below £20k. Things are OK, and my life wasn't (quite) destroyed by my foolish academic rebellion.

Ok – full disclosure – I got a 2.2 in creative writing. “But how is that possible!” you scream, “you write better than anyone whose words we’ve ever read!” and that’s kind of you. Really it is. But I wasn’t always this good.

For those of you that don’t know, a degree in the UK receives a grade that makes little sense. Here is a quick visual guide.

My main degree course was Philosophy, but there was always that module, that cheeky little two-hour session a week in which I could let my mediocre imagination run wild…

This article will hopefully give you some handy tips and alert you to the potential pitfalls in the the field of semi-unprofessional and mediocre creative writing.

All the advice below is based on my true experience, and the poems you’ll see were submitted at various stages of my degree. I am currently unemployed.

Think of an edgy title for your portfolio.

When compiling a portfolio, it’s important to think of a provocative and original title. Most creative writing students will give their body of work a wistful name such as “Turning Pages” or “Leafing Through Emotion”, but it’s important to use your own distinct voice. You also want to be memorable – who remembers boring novels? Nobody. So grab the examiner’s attention, and you’ve got a hit on your hands.

As I had also done the previous year.

Put relevant details on the cover. Also, irrelevant details.

It’s important to be thorough; when I was told to “put my details on the front” I wasn’t quite sure what that entailed, so I covered all the bases I could think of.

Again, the smart-arsery of this probably lowered my grade by a few crucial marks. 

Call your chapters ‘Episodes’.

And a self-referential subtitle will probably go down badly too.

Write mediocre poetry that is mostly about animals.

The animal kingdom has long been a source of inspiration for writers.. Paddington, Simba, Hedwig – the list is quite long. Exploit this popularity by writing somewhat erotic poetry about fauna. Examiners love that. In fact they love it so much, they’ll give you a 2.2.

Format your portfolio so that the titles are right at the bottom of a page.

This, I’ll admit, was unintentional. But isn’t it good? Everyone likes a cliffhanger, and whoever was marking my portfolio saw the title, got excited, and then turned the page for the ultimate pay-off: a panda poem. This is ultimately how television works, particularly in the USA; mini-cliffhangers will precede commercial breaks, to ensure that the viewer keeps watching. Sort of the same.

Run out of ink.

The final tip to achieving your dream, a 2.2 in creative writing, is to accidentally run out of black ink whilst printing your portfolio. Make sure you leave a hastily scribble post-it note on the front, informing the marker as to why the text on pages 16-29 is magenta.

End on a high note.

What constitutes a “high note”? How about a rhyming poem about a bear? The final nail in the awesome-box that is your creative writing portfolio. Mediocrity here you come!