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Heather - advice
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Name: Heather
PhD discipline: English Literature
Area(s) of work: Self-employed writer; dyslexia support tutor; tutor in creative writing
Year of graduation: 2002
Date of Interview: 07/05/2008

Now Playing: Heather - advice
Heather suggests what kind of questions you should ask yourself before committing to becoming a freelance writer.

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If you could advise somebody who's coming towards the end of their thesis and they're pretty sure they don't want an academic career and they'd like to explore possibilities of writing in other contexts, maybe becoming a freelance writer, what would you say to them?

I would be very wary of doing it because it's a very difficult thing to do and it's financially very precarious and I was just sort of lucky in some ways. I would say they need to look themselves in the mirror and ask themselves what they want to write and be brutally honest about it and if they want to write other things than academic work then they should give themselves permission to do it and to try to experiment and to let themselves go a bit in their writing and maybe even handwrite; if they write their thesis on a computer try handwriting instead and if they've got interests in writing other things outside their academic work then just give it a go and see where it leads but do it in a really authentic way where they really find out what they want to write rather having some external vision of 'oh I want to be a novelist' or something like that. It just doesn't work like that. You've got to really find in yourself what kind of language and words you want to use and what kind of voice you have. I think the problem with some academic writing is that it doesn't encourage people enough to develop a unique writing voice and I think everyone can do that but if you want to write creatively you've really got to do that. You need to find that before you can sort of think about publishing. But I don't really have much advice for people who want to be a freelance writer. I just have my own experience that I make up every day as I go along. There isn't really an established route for it so I'd be very wary of giving any advice in fact. 

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