Voices

How a creative writing course gave me the freedom to write

By Doris Lam

03 September 2014 - 15:39

What does it take to switch off the phone and get writing? Doris Lam has just completed a creative writing course at the University of East Anglia after winning a competition for Hong Kong senior high school students. She explains how her visit to the UK inspired her creativity. 

The United Kingdom has always been a mystery to me -- a place many of my friends have been to, a place where many of my favourite authors are from, a place where I have always wanted to travel to or learn about in person. Finally this summer I got my chance!

I spent a month in Norwich, a city in the east of England, where I studied creative writing at the University of East Anglia (UEA). Creative writing has always been a passion of mine, one which I had forgotten about because of my busy school life and addictive smartphone. After a month studying the creative writing course at UEA, my passion for writing has been lit once again. I now carry a small notebook wherever I go in case I suddenly get inspired to write a short poem or an interesting observation…trust me, I reach for that notebook a lot!

I’ve read and learnt about Shakespeare at school and so I was fascinated when I got the chance to watch his play, A Midsummer’s Night Dream, during my field trip to Cambridge. I'd love to say I read Shakespeare in my free time but I’m more likely to read the latest popular book instead (The Fault in Our Stars, anyone?). I discovered how much I enjoy poetry after my course at UEA encouraged me to write a few poems of my own. I particularly love the poems from The Pillow Book, which are in the form of lists. Go check it out, you won’t regret it.

What I loved most about the creative writing course at UEA is the freedom it gave me to write what I wanted. When we have a writing assignment at my school in Hong Kong, I am told what topic to write about, which often makes me feel very restricted. When taught what to write at schools in Hong Kong, students are often drilled into scoring points for the exam instead of improving their writing technique.

I think that the creative writing course not only helped me to be more confident in my writing, it also greatly improved my writing ability as I got to understand my own style through writing  short stories and poems up from scratch.

You could say that my lucky month of studying creative writing at the university was both a blessing and a curse. Now I am more than ever determined to study creative writing when it’s my turn for university, and I can’t help but wonder… Will UEA accept me in two years?

The UK summer courses for Hong Kong students finish this Friday, 5 September. If you'd like to know about future opportunities, join our Hong Kong team on Facebook. You can also visit our Education UK site for more information on studying in the UK.

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