In our educational environment, we tend to focus on objectivity rather than creativity, especially in the realm of writing. Teachers and students alike emphasize research and analytical writing over prose and poetry, and creative writing often becomes a fleeting subject in core English classes.
Ostensibly, creative writing does not offer numerous real-world applications, while academic writing is more widespread in professional environments. However, the importance of creative writing is largely underestimated. In reality, when practicing creative writing, students exercise a multitude of skills, such as originality, organization and storytelling, all of which are beneficial and pertinent to a wide range of activities and fields. Furthermore, students may also improve their mental health through continuous writing and journaling.
Creative writing carries a large capacitance of approaches and allows for flexibility of ideas. It offers a wide variety of genres, such as realistic, fantasy and historical fiction, and includes many types, like prose, memoir, poetry and songwriting. Even within a specific type and genre, writers have the freedom to choose their preferred methods of storytelling, whether it be through motifs, dialogue, narration or even all three — a privilege that is often not appropriate in other forms of academic writing.
Today, in an era in which innovation is particularly esteemed, originality is crucial; similarly, our writing needs to reflect this ideal. In this way, creative writing grants students the access to explore their inventive minds and fosters the opportunities to come up with plots and characters that are completely unique and completely theirs. Unlike expository writing, where students often use a variety of professional sources to influence their opinions and analyses, creative writing invites individuality.
“I think we can’t do enough to invite divergent and sometimes deviant thinking,” said Lucy Filppu, Writer’s Craft teacher. “Thinking like other people is extremely dangerous, and when we all learn the same idea about Gatsby or the same idea about Maoist China, we’re in bad territory.”
Not only does creative writing induce originality, it also aids in shaping students’ logical abilities. Those who are able to write with intricate plot lines and multifaceted characters are generally more prepared to think rationally and organize their thoughts chronologically. Although their structures are definitely flexible, understandable stories normally have beginnings, middles and ends, and a competent creative writer is usually able to arrange his or her thoughts in a cogent manner in order to tell stories effectively.
In fact, benefits of creative writing aid numerous people who participate in various other professions. Many great writers have also established their prominence in other career fields, such as medicine, education and law. To name a few, surgeon Atul Gawande is a highly-acclaimed writer for The New Yorker and ophthalmologist Robin Cook is a popular playwright. Both have left impacts as medical specialists as well as writers through their successes in the two fields.
“Those who can communicate rise,” Filppu said. “If you have a way with words, you will be important with whatever you’re doing.”
Moreover, creative writing is beneficial to students’ mental health. According to the American Psychiatric Association, writing creatively, or journaling, can “provide general wellness and self-improvement benefits,” such as “making [people] more self-aware, boosting creativity and helping [them] build better habits.” It may also help students release stress and serves as a safe coping mechanism.
“Writing is a tremendously healthy outlet instead of self-harm, using drugs or alcohol, overeating or any other way we cope,” Filppu said. “If students can learn other healthy coping skills, that’s great, and writing is one of them.”
Most importantly, creative writing should be taught more frequently in schools because we need to foster an environment of multitalented and diverse writers. Writing is extremely important in the school setting, and while academic writing is beneficial, teaching students different methods of creative writing will hopefully produce well-rounded writers who do not think one-dimensionally.
“I don’t think that writers can fully develop their voice, their pace and their sense of who they are as a writer without being given the opportunity to write from their own views,” Filppu said. “They need to write about their own ideas and have their own sense of what matters on a page.”