Being a DSA: writing for money!


Faculty: Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
School: School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Course: BA (Hons) Writing and English Literature
Category: Language, literature and media

29 July 2019

I’ve had lots of jobs and written lots of things - separately, mind - but working as a Digital Student Ambassador is the first time I’ve actually been paid to write.

As someone who has spent a lot of time looking for freelance writing jobs and sending applications out left, right, and centre, this was perfect.

It has helped me as a writer by giving me a sense of regularity. Any serious writer knows that the only way to work is through dedication, focus, and a strong self-will. It is not enough to just sit down and expect the words to flow magically. J K Rowling may claim that Harry Potter just 'strolled into [her] head, fully formed' whilst on a train but the books themselves, the plot lines and characters, didn’t just appear every time she daydreamed. The only way to write is to sit down and write.

Your mind is a very complicated thing and getting it to put all its energy into one thing, completely undisturbed and working at full power, is no small feat. It’s why some writers take years on their work, and others produce a novel a year in a burst of extremely unbalanced creative fury.

But first things first.

Writing regularly for uni and getting paid was a good introduction in helping me find my own writing voice, what tone I tend to use, whether a piece calls for more advanced vocabulary, and how much emotion.

It’s also an excellent exercise in focus. When writing, my mind jumps about a lot and flings random phrases and words into my consciousness, so I have to go down a few separate lines and write them before they vanish, then return to what I was originally writing. It has resulted in my going off on a tangent for over an hour, nudging a potential new piece out into the world while the actual piece that needs to be written gets brushed aside. With writing for your uni, you have a set task, a question that needs to be answered.

I've found that writing about your own experiences in a relaxed, flexible job where people are genuinely interested in what you have to say is an excellent way to start.


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