A Creative Writing PhD – The First Year

notebooksI began my PhD last autumn with a mix of excitement and trepidation. I was going back to study full time, to focus on creative writing – the subject that had thrilled me as an undergraduate thirteen years before. And what a year it has been, with so many unexpected challenges! But it has been fascinating too, and even though the last few months have not been easy, there have been plenty of highlights along the way.  

My first highlight was the South West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership (SWWDTP) induction, in a beautiful hotel near Bath, with the chance to get to know other new PhD students. It was intense but fun, followed by a day for all the SWWDTP students to meet up in research clusters, to share ideas and plan collaborative events. We made lots of plans for the year ahead, almost all of which have had to be postponed or cancelled. I’m hoping some of these things can take place next year instead.



The research itself has been exciting too. At times it has felt rather like searching through an underground cavern in the dark, seeking out some lost treasure, and at other times it has felt like an uphill climb – exhilarating but exhausting.

A few other highlights…

  • The departmental postgraduate trip to Gregynog – an opportunity to get to know fellow PhD students and spend some time writing, in a gorgeous old house in mid-Wales.
  • A trip to the Hay Festival Winter Weekend as part of the Literature Wales mentoring scheme.
  • My first opportunity to edit for the SWWDTP academic journal – Question.
  • A chance to present ‘Pecha Kucha’ style at the Creative Practice and Critical Thinking Symposium at Bath Spa University.
  • A winter trip to Ty Newydd for some training run by Literature Wales.
  • Some really interesting conferences, including one in Leeds that focused on how to engage young people with historical portraits in museums.
  • My virtual writer’s residency at the Cynon Valley Museum.

Looking ahead…

I now have a clearer idea of where I’m heading with my research, and am tentatively making plans for the year ahead. I’m looking forward to seeing the results of my online survey, examining what goes on in our minds as we look at a work of art.

SWWDTP Induction

The beautiful hotel where the SWWDTP induction took place.

Photo at Criccieth

A photo taken at Criccieth, during my trip to North Wales for a training event.

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