Tionee Joseph recently completed the MA in Creative Writing at the University of Leicester. She has been published by The English and Media Centre and her poem ‘With the Passing of the First Generation’ was published in the Black History Month 2020 edition of Unite by Fly on the Wall Press. She has a YouTube channel where she vlogs about mental health here.
Below, Tionee writes about her experience of the MA Creative Writing Dissertation, and what advice she would give to future MA students undertaking it.
Mastering the Dissertation, by Tionee Joseph
Wow, you’ve finally made it to the Dissertation! Time flies, doesn’t it? On the downside this is the beginning of the end of your MA journey. On the upside, this is your big moment to shine (think talent-show-final with your supervisor as your mentor).
I discovered that the Dissertation at a Master's level is a different beast to the one of the undergraduate level. I wrote a play - a form I had never really written before - but something was telling me this was the perfect opportunity to give it a try.
My Dissertation project was a full-length play about a couple who take in an acquaintance to stay with them during the beginning of the March 2020 lockdown. The play explores the relationship dynamics that develop between them over a couple of months.
Anyway, no matter what you decide to write, below are some tips to make the experience easier:
- Keep notes from the very beginning; you can track the changes in your process from start to end and it gives you material for your commentary rather than trying to do it retrospectively.
- Take notes at each supervision and try to meet with your supervisor regularly. This gives you mini-deadlines to work towards.
- If you are struggling to write, do some housekeeping. Write your bibliography and make sure it’s in the correct style, check your presentation is up to spec (using a suitable font and size, pages are numbered, line spacing). I used to do these things at the end but doing them sooner frees you up to concentrate on the writing when you do get back into the flow of it.
- Use read aloud function on word for when you can’t spot your own mistakes.
- Talk to someone about how it’s been going. Writing can be very solitary and unless you talk to yourself out loud you may not be aware of the issues that are blocking you until you verbalise them. The person you speak to doesn’t need to be a writer, but they could offer an opinion from a reader’s perspective which is just as valuable.
- Track your changes on word. You can see what you originally typed even if you delete it later on. This is useful for the commentary when talking about early drafts.