Saturday, May 11, 2013

Write What You Know...or, Graduate School Kills Creativity.

 The most important rule of writing is to “Write what you know”. That doesn’t prohibit outlandish tales and fantasy, of course. Instead, it means to focus on human relationships and experiences that you are familiar with – either through your own experiences or people you know. After all, J.R.R. Tolkien (my favorite author in the world) never had to defeat balrogs or orcs, but he did experience the pain of war and saw the suffering its evil heaped on the world, which inspired him to write about the many trials in Middle-Earth.

I am a writer by nature. When I was a child I wrote books starring “Super Witch”, a dimension-travelling young witch, or other equally bizarre tales. College unfortunately halted all creativity. My college writing instructors marked me off heavily for my “flowery prose” and as I delved more into academic writing all my creativity stopped flowing.

It began again once I graduated and began working. I’m happy to say that I wrote over a million words between 2009-2012 – sadly, they include multiple stories with no endings or complete stories that I am not interested in publishing until I find the time to tweak them. My time spent exploring my writing and trying out different styles was one of the best periods of my life. I love creating new worlds and characters!

Yet all that seems to have ended again.

I began graduate school in August 2012 and my writing sharply declined. I did continue some writing but there was barely any time for it. And now, after completing my first year of my masters program, I have once again lost that spark.

I will write one or two paragraphs for different stories but each time I get frustrated because my muse is gone, willed away from the trials of writing academic papers.

Sigh. Perhaps my muse will return after graduation…until then, I suppose I will continue espousing prose along the strict and stifling constraints of academic writing.

Or, perhaps, in keeping with "write what you know", I will write the thrilling novel of a student affairs graduate student...hmm...I wonder what super powers she will have...

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