Wednesday, April 06, 2011
Creative Writing or Literature Classes?
Literature, on the other hand, was mellow. Studying proven authors, seeing how they utilized theme and motif, and how they developed character arc along with plot helped me understand how elements of writing fit together. It was far easier to understand the concept of voice in a literature class than it was to find my voice in a creative writing class. Perhaps it helped that literature classes didn't pressure the student to submit his own work, a potentially ego threatening proposition.
So, am I suggesting literature classes are the path for the would-be writer? No.
Approaching one's development as a writer isn't an all or nothing proposition. It is a process. And perhaps what I came to understand about a structured approach to learning writing is that one needs a balance. The literature classes are valuable, as are the creative writing classes, and when they are combined intelligently they are the best hope a student has of developing skills through an appreciation of what he saw in the works of others.
When reading advice from famous authors, one will always hear two strong themes. First, write---only by practicing one's art can one improve it (of course, by practicing, we mean with a self-critical eye). And second, read. Read and study other authors, not with an eye for imitation, but for understanding how that person executed his craft.