English Major Musings is an evergreen Paperback Paris column curated by Contributing Writer Alicia LeBoeuf.
In my last installment, I touched down on what future, potential, and current English majors should expect from Literature courses while pursuing their college education. This time around, I will be focusing on the other side of the English major spectrum: creative writing.
Creative writing is one of those things that sounds easy, but in reality, it is not simple at all. What most people don’t seem to understand, especially if they do not write on a daily basis, is that writer’s block is a very real and debilitating thing. Writer’s block is not an excuse writers throw around when they are feeling too lazy to write something halfway decent. Instead, it acts as a way to block the writers’ inspiration and creative flow, and this can be a painful thing to wrangle with as the deadline for a certain story looms over you.
If you are in a creative writing class, you will most certainly experience the pain of having a bad case of writer’s block. To make things even more interesting, when you get writer’s block regarding an assignment, you can’t just push it aside and resolve to come back to it later. In a class setting, that deadline is just going to get closer and closer, whether you have a great piece of completed writing ready or not. In creative writing classes, you will have to learn to overcome your writer’s block or, at the very least, be able to still produce a decent piece of writing so you have something to turn in on time. This can be a stressful situation, which is why time management is key in order to prevent an all-nighter the day before your story is due.
While actually producing your creative writing piece is essentially a very individual experience, a lot of collaboration goes into creative writing as well. I believe a lot of people tend to ‘forget’ that workshopping pieces with your peers is a huge component of creative writing classes. In every creative writing class I’ve ever taken, there has always been a point where you have to form groups and listen to others offer their thoughts on your work. In some classes, it can go as far as having a full-class workshop, which means the whole class is invited to read your work, analyze it, and offer you feedback. While the prospect of this might be understandably nerve-wracking to some, it is fundamental to improving your piece and becoming a better writer overall.
While in my experience people do tend to try to be nice and always are ready to give polite compliments on certain aspects of a story, they are meant to give constructive criticism as well. This means you have to learn not to take things too personally and see the feedback as a chance to grow. There is also the chance that some people may not like what you consider your favorite part, or want you to change something you don’t think needs changing. Instead of arguing, listen attentively to what they have to say and make whichever decision feels right. Also, make sure that your own criticism of someone else’s piece is seen as beneficial rather than attacking. Most people just want to be helpful, and hopefully, you can do the same in return.
Depending on your college’s creative writing program, you could have a wide range of creative writing classes that will help further develop your writing skills in many different ways. For example, my college offers creative writing classes in everything from fiction to poetry to nonfiction. There is even a novel writing workshop where students have to write 50,000-word drafts of a potential novel. Creative writing classes provide great opportunities for boosting your creativity and expanding your skill set. If you are determined to become a bestselling author in the future (who knows?), creative writing classes are fundamental and provide lessons that you can keep in practice for the rest of your life.
Stay tuned for the next installment of English Major Musings at Paperback Paris!
What did you learn from your creative writing classes?
Do you have a topic you’d like us to feature in our next EMM?
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