In Praise of Ingenious Writing
BY MEI SHAO '25
Words are powerful: as a universal concept, whether it be a poet musing over a rhyme or a reporter jotting down the latest headline, it’s undeniable that words are crucial for communication. As such, in almost every English class, we students are asked to write essays to practice using words to analyze others’ works. This type of writing—known as academic writing—needs to be concise, structured, and backed up by evidence. It’s the most practiced form of writing in the AB English curriculum by far. However, other types of writing also exist, such as journalism, which reports facts and news, and creative writing, which encompasses everything from fiction to poetry. Due to creative writing’s benefits to communication skills, therapeutic uses, and benefits to technical skill, AB’s English curriculum should strive to include more creative writing.
Firstly, creative writing is far more effective than academic writing in communicating emotion. Compare how often you’ve cried at something like a movie or a book to the number of times you’ve cried because of an analytical essay: there should be a vast difference. This is due to the fact that academic essays rely on logos, that is, logic and facts, to convey meaning. In contrast, creative writing often relies on pathos, emotion, to convey meaning. Facts may be objectively true, but in the course of human interaction, it is emotion that ultimately sways us, as it is the lives and times of other people that we most empathize with, not black and white words on a page. Thus, through expressing themselves through creative writing, students can build their ability to persuade and impact others on a deeper level, which also helps them develop their voice.
In addition to aiding the development of voice, creative writing has also been scientifically proven to have therapeutic and recreational purposes. According to studies conducted by Adrienne M. Ero-Phillips of St. Catherine University, types of creative writing can be used to vent and even heal from traumatic experiences, and the good news is that one doesn’t have to have traumatic experiences to reap the benefits of creative writing. Ero-Phillips says that “writing elevates [and grounds] ordinary events and facilitates the opportunity to learn from life situations.” Students who find themselves stressed by other aspects of high school can find relief in having a little something on the page that is a simple reflection of their thoughts and mental state.
Finally, creative writing hones technical writing skills just as much, if not more, than academic writing. Understand this by specifically considering the “voice” of a piece of writing. In an academic paper, there is usually only one voice, the author’s voice, which can really be measured by a single scale of how heated it sounds. However, in creative writing, one will find themselves having to convey a much wider range of voices, from sad to happy, apathetic to lovestruck. The key to creating these voices lies in word choice, sentence structure, pacing, and more. These three things on their own require the writer to have extensive vocabulary and a very advanced grasp on grammar. In addition, compared to academic writing, creative writing hinges a lot more on these skills, making their mastery more meaningful.
ABRHS does not have a single course completely dedicated to the craft of creative writing, nor are there enough opportunities in our regular English classes, which is a true shame, because some of my best English class experiences come from creative writing assignments. Ultimately, creative writing will offer personal, emotional, and educational value if implemented in our schools, creating adults with great emotional intelligence and mastery of the English language, improving our future lives as a whole.