Over the years, I’ve come to understand a few pervasive problems that stem from the view of creativity as tied to fiction and poetry, from the public’s lack of awareness of what academics and other workplace writers do, from problematic attitudes held within the so-called field of creative writing itself about what types of writing are creative, and from the ways we as writing studies/English scholars reinforce problematic ideas about creativity.
Those attitudes include: I first took note of the emotional weight and impact of this phenomenon when conducting interviews for my dissertation on the impact of materials of all kinds on the writing process.
(See, for example, , we even see the symbolic gesture of a teacher tearing up the syllabus, perhaps imagined to be the dullest of literary genres.
But as a material representation of a 16-week experience, it is, I would argue, one of the most creative and rewarding of writing forms.
Writing is also associated not with workplace forms but with poetry and fiction.
A question that comes to mind is that if a persistent narrative around writing is that the only creative writing is fiction and poetry, and if families do not see themselves as skilled in this way, how can they encourage writing in all of its forms as a family value?
Deborah Brandt voiced this powerfully when she pointed out that while the identity label of “reader” is available to most people -- meaning that most readers could confidently say “I’m a reader” -- the identity label of “writer” is not.
In her book, Brandt demonstrates how cultural narratives around the importance of reading enable families to understand the value of this act and to support reading as a family value and practice.
Most of us learn to laugh off the glaze that comes over people’s faces as we academics in writing studies explain what we, in fact, do write.
The problem is that one image of writing dominates the popular imagination and is weighted with value more heavily than all others: writing as “creative writing,” which is treated as if it’s interchangeable with fiction and poetry.