School of Humanities



Susan Taylor Suchy


Start date

Jun 2010

Submission date

Dec 2017

Susan Taylor Suchy


Creative Writing and the Digital Marketplace: A Student's Experience in Higher Education


The radical changes that technology has brought to the marketplace call for the discipline of creative writing to be more engaged in the digital age. There have even been suggestions that the discipline might let go of some of its resistance to the marketplace. The aim of this research has been to explore the relationship of a creative writer in higher education to the digital marketplace. The research was emergent and required developing an understanding of perceptions of the marketplace relationship before being able to address the research question: How does a creative writing student write for the digital marketplace?

To answer the research question, I needed to learn more about the critical-creative-marketplace relationship. I engaged in research and developed a series of creative projects. The emergent research is presented in three published papers that represent my experiences at various stages of the candidature. In the final stage of analysis I sought to elicit more findings. The data were my experiences as a creative writer working within the university trying to write creative work for the digital marketplace during the period of my candidature. The data (i.e., my experiences within this particular context) were collected in my journals, correspondence, annual reports, audio recordings and documents that were related to the development of the creative projects, as well as in published and unpublished papers and creative work. I adopted grounded theory methods to analyse my data. This method for analysing the data draws on Pace’s (2012) methodological discussion for artist-researchers on using grounded theory analytic strategies and Foss and Waters’ (2016) approach to data collection and analysis.

The findings are presented in an analytic autoethnography. The analysis revealed that the answer to the research question was that as a creative writing student in higher education I used three specific strategies to negotiate the relationship between academic demands, creative interests and marketplace opportunities. The literature review demonstrated that a creative writing student in higher education must negotiate a complex relationship to reach the marketplace. My study shows that this continues to apply in the digital context. The negotiation to reach the digital marketplace occurred across five locations: 1) in the self-help industry, 2) between disciplines, 3) in the English department, 4) in creative writing communities and 5) at the final stage of writing up the dissertation. Importantly, to balance the relationship, the same three strategies—self-educating, relationship building and tactical compromise—occurred in various ways in all locations.

Why my research is important

These findings highlight areas of support as well as resistances to digital marketplace engagement for a creative writing student in higher education.

Although the literature review showed that negotiating critical, creative and marketplace needs is not an uncommon experience for a creative writing student, this study serves to extend the marketplace relationship discussion into the digital era. The significance of the findings from this study is that each of the three strategies (i.e., self-educating, relationship building and strategic positioning of the creative) helps to highlight the areas of resistance and the spaces of support and engagement that were presented to me as a creative writer while working in the relationship. Although this is my unique experience, other writers may experience similar issues and the findings may be of value to those teaching and practicing.


  • Overseas Travel Award
  • Local Travel Award
  • Local Travel Award
  • UWA Safety-Net Top-Up Scholarship
  • University Postgraduate Award
  • Institute for Advanced Studies Conference Scholarship, University of Western Australia Institute for Advanced Studies, Australian Consortium of Humanities Research Centre (ACHRC) Conference and Survival Skills for Humanities Workshop, July 2013
  • Publication Grant, School of Humanities for work published in 2011, 2013 and 2015