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Tony Wailey

Page history last edited by sceptrept 14 years ago

Constructing a professional Story :

Tony Wailey and Susana Sambade London College of Communication, University of the Arts


This presentation translates the successful pilot work in Creative Writing at LCC, run successfully for five years as an undergraduate elective, into an abbreviated version to help develop writing skills for undergraduates with the Personal and Professional Development programme (PDP).The focus is that ‘showing not telling’ aids the process of reflection as a reflexive skill.


Historically the context of PDP (PPD) at the College is characterised at specific levels. Technical and academic at level one, (year one) hermeneutic or interpretative at level two (year two) and critically reflective at level three, (year three). In other words, the development of academic skills, enterprise, careers and embryonic research skills and finally an understanding and application of action research skills both within cognate discipline and ontology of professional life.

·         Level One Academic development within learners subject discipline - Technique

·         Level Two career enhancement, Enterprise - Hermeneutic/ Interpretative

·         Level Three Action Research within learner’s professional technique, treating major projects as both research object and research subject. - Critical


In year two creative writing is the most popular set of undergraduate electives. Given the well attested issues of art/design students’ relationship with writing in general, why is this? The research builds upon other academic work within PPD illustrating how students not only see or socially construct the world of creative writing but also the relationship of cultural capital to their own specific academic discipline or indeed, life arena. (Bordieu, 1998).  Creative writing has much to offer students in the development of both ‘softer’ and ‘harder’ writing skills in the arena of professional development as well as facilitating reflection.


'Softer’ skills enable the exploration of identity, being and location within the world familiar to the process of art/design making. For ‘harder’ skills, creative writing teaches students to write tightly and concisely, often to a very specific format and within constrained limits.The psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, (1997), refers to the important relationship between intuition and intellect when describing creative processes. He describes not only the ingredients necessary for creative work but also the personality traits of the individual, the environment and the conditions of work. Using ‘creative flow’, he describes an experience of deep immersion in work , ‘flow’ is expressed as being  a ‘merging [of] action and awareness’, an autotelic process of “connection”.


Naming, Being and Seeing are the themes that enable students to explore their own professional identity by these workshops within the PPD module. In writing a series of sequential relationships between text and image, these skills contribute to learning within a complex world by building a sense of self whilst writing about “others”, and in their own ability “to construct a story” (Dawson, 2007). This thematic approach builds upon our recent collaborative work with academics and students on relating processes of Intertextuality (Deleuze, 2003 Ed) in order that individual stories may contextualise different possibilities. 


Creative writing as a mini module within the Personal and Professional Programme helps with projection and assists students towards critical reflection or reflexivity. Yet the process is never about what it’s about. Being “here” is never just “here”. Professionalisation is about the process of “becoming” wrote Donald Schon (1983) a quarter of a century ago. It is what Boden (2005) might call the distinction between working in a conceptual space and transforming that space.


Key words: Creative writing, PDP, reflection, reflexivity



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