9 November 2015

The Writer’s (Career) Journey: using the techniques and principles of careers advice and guidance in creative writing courses

I will be presenting a workshop this coming Friday at the National Association of Writers in Education (NAWE) annual conference, where I will present tools, relevant career counselling techniques, group work and individual exercises that can be used to help students understand why they want to write and where it might take them.

I have taught creative writing since 2007 at various universities, in community and adult education, in primary and secondary schools and from undergraduate to postgraduate level. Prior to and during this time I have also worked in careers services, trained as a careers adviser and moved into research and development in the field of career education. I am currently employed by Scotland’s national skills body, Skills Development Scotland, as an equalities expert in the delivery of national training programmes.

My interest in career development informs my teaching practice at all ages and levels and I will share with delegates some of the techniques and principles of careers advice and guidance that they might like to integrate, as creative writing tutors and lecturers, in their creative writing courses.

My aim is to help tutors gain a better understanding of how to help learners map their writer’s journey, identify career support networks and, for those who wish to, develop careers in writing. Once a writer has a clearer idea of where they want to be, one-to-one coaching can be beneficial–a service that can be accessed through this NAWE directory of practitioners.

My workshop concentrates on activities that can be delivered in groups. Participants engage in practical, adaptable activities and learn how career planning can benefit the writing workshop. They gain a better understanding of how to help learners map their writer’s journey, identify career support networks and develop careers in writing.

I’ve selected career planning techniques and adaptable tools for emerging writers from a variety of backgrounds, of all ages and at all levels. These are straightforward, practical, adaptable activities tutors can use in the classroom, in tutorials or in workshops using practical methods to help writers focus on where they want to be after their time with a tutor is over. Careers guidance is rooted in counselling approaches. An important counselling technique used in career guidance interviews is that of contracting. Career tools and activities can be easily positioned early in a writing programme, perhaps in a first session, where the rules and processes of a writing workshop programme are established–what as facilitators in a writing workshop could also define as the “contracting” stage.

I’ll be asking participants on Friday to think about their own journeys, as writers, to where they are now. Understanding your own career history can help you support the development of others . Participants may even find the session useful in planning their own futures!

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