Creative Writing PhD

A New Series

It Starts in October!

Good afternoon my dearest friend,

You may recall in my last letter I told you the good news. That after months of hard work, I have been accepted onto a course to read for my PhD.

I’m super excited about this.

It’s been a tricky process, however, particularly because I struggled to find much information about what the entire process was about. I wanted to understand what I was getting myself into before I went anywhere near talking to a potential supervisor.

There was a slew of ‘this is what a PhD is…’ type information, but all of them focused on non-creative PhD’s which are pretty different to a creative one. The closest and one of the most useful books I found that was about the creative PhD was about a drama/live performance PhD.

So, with that in mind, I thought I’d start a little blog series about my journey over the coming six years.

I’ll be talking about processes, sharing useful information I’ve found, and signposting to other useful resources. I will also be talking at times about my subject matter.


A little bit about what this whole thing is!

Read more: A New Series

What is a PhD?

A PhD or Doctorate of Philosophy is an abbreviation of the Latin phrase ‘philosophiae doctor’ and is a long period of independent research/study in a specific field or subject, resulting in the production of a publication-worthy thesis.

So, in a nutshell, It’s a big research project with a rather long written piece at the end.

Creative Writing PhD

My PhD will be a Creative Writing PhD, which makes it a little different from a non-creative PhD.

The PhD in Creative Writing (also known as the critical-creative/practice-based PhD) combines a proposed creative piece, such as a novel, short story collection, poetry collection or playscript etc with a piece of supporting or contextualising research. 

In a nutshell, that means I have to write a creative piece and produce an academic ‘essay’ though calling it an essay feels small for what it is, it’s effectively going to be of a similar length to my Masters’s Degree Thesis.

What’s the Subject matter aka topic of study

The focus of my PhD will be Mental Health and Disability in the Horror Genre.

I will be reviewing how those with mental health issues and disabilities have been portrayed in the horror genre, particularly in novels and short stories. How that portrayal has been influenced by culture/society and how society/culture has been affected by these portrayals.

I’ll be looking at what constitutes a ‘good’ or plausible portrayal and what constitutes a bad portrayal.

My creative piece will either be a novel or a short story collection, which explores plausible portrayals. Aka I’m going to see if I can still write ‘good’ horror fiction with good representation.

Why the hell are you writing about that?

Because this combines a cause and a topic that is close to me.

You already know how much I love the horror genre. It’s been something important to me since I was single-digit years old.

I’m also a big nerd who studies for fun. I have some esoteric qualifications, acquired just because the topic was interesting and I had the cash to do it. Some people save up to buy cars, designer gear etc. (and that’s awesome, no shame here my dudes) I save up to study stuff in a structured environment.

But why disability and mental health?

I’m neurodiverse myself, have family and friends on the spectrum and have family and friends who suffer from long-term illness and disability. I’ve lost both family and friends to mental health issues and I’ve seen all of us be treated as lesser at some point or another and I don’t like it (hot take right).

In the world outside of this website, I’m an advocate for disability rights, I’m a chair of my staff network for those with diverse abilities, I’m in the process of becoming a trustee of a local disability charity and I’m a mental health first aider.

So, this is a way to combine three things I love with all my big nerd heart. Disability equity, writing (particularly within the horror genre) and a big education project.

Plus, once it’s all done (and providing it goes well) I’ll be able to order food in a restaurant and when it arrives I can say “Just what the Dr ordered.”

Plus, plus, I’m English and a big nerd, so being able to call myself The Doctor tickles me somewhat.  If I manage this, someone needs to get me a sonic screwdriver.