Hannah studied for a master's degree in Creative Writing (Playwriting and Screenplays) at City, University of London, and graduated in 2010.
What do you do now? What do you enjoy about what you do?
I work in Scripted Development at CBBC. I help find and develop ideas for new programmes for children aged 6 to 12 years. I get to read a huge variety of scripts, pitches and books, research topics and help pitch ideas to the channel controller. What I love about my job is working closely with writers and authors to help shape and develop their ideas into exciting and innovative TV.
What path have you taken to get there? Were there any particular areas of interest that lead to specialising?
Prior to working at the BBC I worked for Virgin Media and Nickelodeon making commercials. I was working in dynamic teams within exciting companies but my job was mostly administrative and I wanted to move into something more creative. My favourite part of the job was working on the scripts with the director and the voiceover artists. I decided to pursue my interest in scripts by taking some evening classes in creative writing.
What did you choose to study at City and how has it helped you?
After I had completed a couple of short writing courses I knew I wanted to learn more creative skills. I applied for the MA in Creative Writing (Playwriting and Screenplays) at City and was lucky enough to be accepted. The course was incredibly helpful; it covered a wide range of topics and gave us skills in different areas. After the first year of my course I applied for a job at BBC writersroom reading scripts and helping to find and develop new writers. In my interview I was able to talk about the MA course and what I was learning which helped me get the job. The course gave me the confidence, skills and vocabulary I needed to work with scripts and writers on a daily basis.
I was also able to pursue writing in my free time. After completing the course I got a literary agent, had a play on at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and am now developing scripts for TV.
Before the course I was stuck in an administrative job and dreaming of a more creative life. Now, not only do I get paid to do what I love, I also have more opportunities to pursue my own writing too.
What did you enjoy most about your course?
I enjoyed the variety the course offered; we learned about writing for theatre, television and film. We learned theory and did practical exercises and we wrote on our own and did group projects.
What was the hardest part of your course?
The hardest part of my course was also the most useful. We had regular deadlines for handing in creative work and it taught you how to complete your work, deliver it on time and how to receive feedback too, all of which was invaluable.
What was your favourite part of being a City Student?
My favourite part of being a City Student was being part of a group exploring and discovering their writing skills together. Writing can be a lonely process so it was great to have the support and feedback from the other students and tutors too. We would go to the theatre together, read each other’s work, see each other’s shows – some of us are still good friends now.
If you could give one piece to a prospective City MA Creative Writing student, what would it be?
Don’t wait – I wish I had done the course sooner because it changed my life; I am happier and more fulfilled now than I was before. Read everything you can get your hands on; the more scripts you read, the more you’ll learn about writing them. Write down every idea you have no matter how small or obscure it is; you have no idea when it might be useful. And talk about your ideas as often as you can to anyone who will listen, it will help you understand your ideas and how to get and hold an audience’s attention too.
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