Definitions

Creative writing

Creative writing

Creative writing is considered to be any writing, fiction or non-fiction, that goes outside the bounds of normal professional, journalistic, academic, and technical forms of literature. Works which fall into this category include most novels and epics, as well as many short stories and poems. Writing for the screen and stage, screenwriting and playwriting respectively, typically have their own programs of study, but fit under the creative writing category as well.

Overview

Somewhere in the educational scheme there must be encouragement for the dreams and imaginings of youth. The student must be permitted emotional expression in order that he may be taught to discipline his emotions. His shy fancies must be drawn out of him for the good of his soul.

Creative writing can technically be considered any writing of original composition that is in no way guilty of plagiarism. In this sense creative writing is a more contemporary and process-oriented name for what has been traditionally called literature, including the variety of its genres. The practice of "professional writing" is not excluded from creative writing — one can be doing both in the same action. In her work, Foundations of Creativity, Mary Lee Marksberry references Paul Witty and Lou LaBrant’s Teaching the People's Language to define creative writing. Marksberry notes:

Witty and LaBrant…[say creative writing] is a composition of any type of writing at any time primarily in the service of such needs as

  1. the need for keeping records of significant experience,
  2. the need for sharing experience with an interested group, and
  3. the need for free individual expression which contributes to mental and physical health.

Creative writing in academia

Unlike its academic counterpart of writing classes that teach students to compose work based on the rules of the language, creative writing is believed to focus on students’ self-expression. While creative writing as an educational subject is often available at some stages, if not throughout, K–12 education, perhaps the most refined form of creative writing as an educational focus is in universities. Following the reworking of university education occurring in most post-war eras, creative writing has progressively gained prominence in the university setting. With the beginning of formal creative writing program:

For the first time in the sad and enchanting history of literature, for the first time in the glorious and dreadful history of the world, the writer was welcome in the academic place. If the mind could be honored there, why not the imagination?

Programs of study

Creative Writing programs are typically available to writers from the high school level all the way through graduate school. Traditionally these programs are associated with the English departments in the respective schools, but this notion has been challenged in recent time as more creative writing programs have spun off into their own department. Most Creative Writing degrees for undergraduates in college are Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees (BFA). Some continue to pursue a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, the terminal degree in the field. At one time rare, PhD. programs are becoming more prevalent in the field, as more writers attempt to bridge the gap between academic study and artistic pursuit.

Creative writers typically decide an emphasis in either fiction or poetry. They then make a schedule based on this emphasis including literature classes, education classes and workshop classes to strengthen their skills and techniques. Though they have their own programs of study in the fields of film and theatre, screenwriting and playwriting have become more popular in creative writing programs, as creative writing programs attempt to work more closely with film and theatre programs as well as English programs. Creative writing students are encouraged to get involved in extracircular writing-based activities, such as publishing clubs, school-based literary magazines or newspapers, writing contests, writing colonies or conventions, and extended education classes.

In the classroom

Creative writing is usually taught in a workshop format rather than seminar style. In workshops students usually submit original work for peer critique. Students also format a writing method through the process of writing and re-writing. Some courses teach the means to exploit or access latent creativity or more technical issues such as editing, structural techniques, genres, random idea generating or writer's block unblocking. Some noted authors, such as Michael Chabon, Kazuo Ishiguro, Decheonbae Jones, Ian McEwan, Rose Tremain and reputed screenwriters, such as David Benioff, Darren Star and Peter Farrelly, have graduated from university creative writing programs.

Controversy in academia

Creative writing is considered by some academics (mostly in the USA) to be an extension of the English discipline, even though it is taught around the world in many languages. The English discipline is traditionally seen as the critical study of literary forms, not the creation of literary forms. Some academics see creative writing as a challenge to this tradition. In the UK and Australia, as well as increasingly in the USA and the rest of the world, creative writing is considered a discipline in its own right, not an offshoot of any other discipline.
To say that the creative has no part in education is to argue that a university is not universal.
Those who support creative writing programs either as part or separate from the English discipline, argue for the academic worth of the creative writing experience. They argue that creative writing hones the students’ abilities to clearly express their thoughts. They further argue that creative writing also entails an in-depth study of literary terms and mechanisms so they can be applied to the writer’s own work to foster improvement. These critical analysis skills are further used in other literary study outside the creative writing sphere. Indeed the process of creative writing, the crafting of a thought-out and original piece, is considered by some to be experience in creative problem solving.

It is also believed by some in the academic sphere that the term "creative writing" can include "creative reading" which is the reading of something not typically understood to be a creative piece as though it were creative. This expanded concept further addresses the idea of "found" materials being of literary value under a newly assigned meaning. Examples of this might be product assembly directions being considered "found poetry."

Forms of creative writing

See also

References

  • Everett, Nick. 2005. Creative Writing and English. The Cambridge Quarterly. 34 (3):231-242.

External links

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