Witches don't wear flip flops by Freya Charlotte

Author Freya Charlotte and illustrator Isabelle Woodward met whilst studying at the University of Plymouth and reunited to work on their debut book Witches Don’t Wear Flip Flops, published by Olympia Publishers.

Here, Freya gives us an insight into her time at the University of Plymouth and offers some advice for aspiring writers.

When attending a University of Plymouth open day, I fell in love with both the campus and the city. I decided that it was fate when I discovered the BA (Hons) English course included a multitude of creative writing modules, as well as the compulsory critical ones.

Often students focus their search on the course or the University itself and completely forget that they have to dedicate three years of their lives to a city they might never have visited before!

Freya Charlotte

Where it all started

I almost exclusively elected to take creative writing modules and the skills I learnt became vital in my quest to become an author. Dramatic writing workshops built my ability to create dialogue while short story courses helped me to condense my writing and make every word count.

You never know the skills or experience you might leave with.

My degree led me to some really cool places: in my first year I took a dramatic writing module and discovered a love of script-writing. After exploring the opportunities with campus societies and local theatre companies, I ended up performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival! The wonderful domino effect of this still amazes me, I got to perform at one of the most prestigious comedy festivals in the world simply by choosing to study at Plymouth.

Freya Charlotte

Inspiring career aspirations

Studying at the University of Plymouth helped me to see writing as a viable career option and not just a hobby. 

Having my writing work-shopped every week gave me the confidence to show my work to others, something I had not done until I reached university. In doing so, I received the valuable feedback and critique that has helped me to grow as a writer and strengthen my skills.

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Pay attention to the ridiculous lessons

I spent a lot of time questioning the benefits of some of the writing exercises in my creative seminars. A number of them made me feel foolish and I often didn’t want to share my embarrassing efforts when it came to work-shopping pieces. But, looking back I learnt so much in those moments. It was the lessons that I deemed silly and a waste of time that have helped me to hone my style of writing the most. So, if your tutor tells you to write a page from the point of view of the window looking into your living room, do it – you never know how it could eventually influence your writing.

Take every opportunity

During my final year at university, I volunteered to be part of a book writing project in conjunction with a local school and the University. The project was a collaboration between the English department, the Illustration department and the Publishing masters’ students.  

The project never came to fruition, but it did give me the opportunity to meet Isabelle Woodward. Isabelle was the illustration student on our project and eventually, four years later, became the illustrator for my debut children’s book, Witches Don’t Wear Flip Flops. Without Plymouth and this project, I would never had met Isabelle and her amazing artistic talents, meaning my children’s book might not be the book it is today.

Push your own boundaries

I think you have to have lived a little to be able to captivate an audience with your writing. ‘Write what you know’ is the pinnacle of writing advice but it is hard to engage with audiences when all you know is comfort. Push your boundaries a little - you don’t have to climb a mountain or jump out of plane – take yourself out to breakfast alone, see a sunrise, do something that scares you a little. The ‘norm’ is not a location in any good piece of writing and you will find it hard to write outside of this zone if it is the only experience you have.

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Inspired by this story?

For more information about studying BA (Hons) English please visit our BA (Hons) English page. For more information about our range of courses within the School of Society and Culture, please visit the school page.

Want to find similar alumni?

If you would like to find out what other relevant alumni from the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business are currently doing, please visit the humanities and languages interest area.

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