When you think of Creative Writing, what comes to mind?
Fantastical stories filled with strange characters from faraway lands?
Or maybe abstract, philosophical ruminations on the nature of consciousness?
It can be about those things, sure, but it can also just be a change in perspective or some inventive methods of problem solving.
Back in college, when I had writing assignments in English class, I would employ certain creative techniques to keep the process fun.
Instead of the same old, boring, traditional way of analyzing literature, I would, for instance, frame it as a conversation between me and the ghost of the dead author in a one-act play format.
And while the teachers would appreciate the effort, they would, invariably, have to insist that I also turn in an essay using the same old, boring, traditional way of analyzing literature, which at least meant that my initial attempts at toppling the status quo could be considered extra credit.
One of my classmates asked me for advice on how she could improve her grade when it came to writing journal entries on the reading.
She understood how to write essays, she explained, but journaling was just too lawless for her tastes.
So, I advised her to embrace the freedom and use it to define her own form.
What’s your passion? I asked her.
Dance, she said without hesitation.
So, then use that on the next assignment, I told her, describing the themes and characters through the choreography of interpretive dance.
She wasn’t sure about that, but she tried it and it worked!
Then there was that time after my dad retired when he wrote a beginner’s guide to playing contract Bridge for his students at the community center. He asked me to read it.
It was very thorough, and well organized, but also very dull.
Well, since I already knew he had a passion for golf, I suggested that he write the lessons using golf as a comparison.
He tried it and it worked!
So, am I saying that in order to be a creative writer all you have to do is mix reading comprehension with dance appreciation, or cards with golf?
Well, not necessarily, but a change in perspective can definitely help you solve problems in a different way.
We all make daily decisions based on whatever information we have at the time from substituting an ingredient while cooking, to finding a detour when the roads are out.
So, we’re all already creative, we just may not recognize it as creativity.
Life is filled with little and big problems to solve, and creativity is simply the method we use to do it.
And that goes for Creative Writing too.
So, the next time you have to write something, try combining it with something else to challenge those problem solving skills.
It may make it more fun, and that’s really the point.
Geoffrey Bennett Ulrich