How can developing creative writing skills help students?
Writing is a form of expression that is an essential part of human communication. It is more so in today’s day and age when we are used to connecting with people through texts instead of verbal conversation. We read newspapers, articles, billboards, and every single copy written on a product or service. We are exposed to words throughout the day and yet stumble more often during conversations or short of ‘right’ words to convey our thoughts, emotions, or feelings. Why? It is not just the illiterate person, who suffers from this issue, but also the one who knows how to read and write in more than one language.
This suggests that despite being exposed to the habit of reading and writing daily, almost throughout the day, we tend to have a lack of clarity in communication and go through a lot of misunderstandings. The reason supposedly is our passive indulgence in this activity instead of thoughtful participation in honing this essential skill.
When this is the case with usual conversations, imagine the effort it would take to write fiction stories or make a way for your imagination through words and engage the audience in it for the time you want them to. Knowing how to write creatively, is like having a powerful asset that helps a person in flourishing emotionally and mentally in areas that are not accessible to those who don’t have this skill.
This blog does not aim to be a guideline mandate for becoming a professional writer but it intends to feed the importance of nurturing the same creative writing skills from a young age, which will be helpful for their personality development in profound ways. After all, it is not necessary to acquire a skill for professional purposes but you can do it for becoming a better human as well! Monetary aspects are always open if you have practiced your craft enough to do so.
What is creative writing?
All the novellas and poetry books that flashed into your mind after reading this question have creative writing. You might have traveled in the world of Harry Potter or Panchatantra. A short fable of a turtle and a rabbit or maybe a vivid scenario from Rabindranath Tagore’s poetry. Or maybe a different setup altogether that offered you some imagination apart from your lived reality.
Creative writing is an expressive form of literature that indulges in conveying your emotions, message, or thoughts through a narrative that explores your imagination. It can be enveloped in a form of a story, poem, or prose. Anything other than traditional realms of normal, professional, academic, or technical forms of writing that goes beyond the usual exchange of information is creative writing. It offers a subjective perspective and is open to all sorts of exploration unlike a technical form of writing.
Broadly, creative writing has the following categories :
- Fiction: novels, novellas, short stories, etc.
- Poetry and spoken word
- Personal essays
Creative writing, as one can observe from the above list, covers both fiction as well as non-fiction.
Benefits of building and nurturing creative writing ability at a young age
Start them young as the saying goes! It is practical and beneficial in ways because children tend to remember things that they practice actively in the beginning stage and start navigating through different questions attached to any skill, subject, or interest quite early in their life.
Only if their curiosity is entertained well, they can understand their likes and dislikes, interests, aspirations, etc regarding the same. Imbibing creative writing in children does the same. Here’s a short list of advantages that this skill can provide to students if they implement it well:
- Fosters different possibilities: In the most uncertain world, carrying your mind with a wide range of probabilities is helpful. Good, bad, or ugly, it is enriching to explore varied perspectives and art is capable of providing the same.
Creative writing pushes you to imagine, visualize and put yourself in a different space, with different characters, and different scenarios that you might have never experienced in your life. It is a great way to plant empathy. That’s what stories do most often and hence sound relatable to the readers who might have a different life than the writer.
Since creative writing inculcates a research process, and ethnographic approach to understanding the subject, it will only enhance the ability to acknowledge different realities than his or her own. An ideal mentor will ensure that the moral expansion happens while the student is in the process of learning creative writing. That the student will explore beyond the binaries and can see the stories as an observer too.
- Cultivates soft skills: Followed by the first point, knowing multiple experiences, and acknowledging them would help in growing analytical skills and emotional intelligence tremendously. Thinking from a different character’s perspective leads you there eventually. It has the scope of building compassion and objectivity towards different stories.
- Validates personal experiences: Creative expression of any form is primarily a need to tell your life incidents. It is to feel the relief or joy from that particular moment that has been experienced very deeply. Creative writing can offer this validation.
It is important to have this kind of acceptance of your own lived moments and reactions. Writing the first-day experience at school in the form of a poem will stay with you more than just plainly saying that it was nice or bad.
- Promotes innovation: Children are naturally experimental and creative writing is one of the best ways to enhance it even more and channel it in the right ways. Many films have storylines that discuss futuristic problems and audiences come across those concepts in reality and find themselves in awe of how the films were or are ahead of their times. How do writers come up with that thought? It is a combination of thorough research, observation, and noting self-experiences but also a vivid imagination of ‘what could happen if this happens’. The understanding of cause and effect. Creative writers can interlink multiple aspects and build a scenario that displays a broader theme of human life with that.
- Brings clarity and precision to communication: One can talk in simplistic words or use jargon, but the point is to know where to use what. As one starts to write, and put thoughts in front of one’s vision, it becomes clear what one is thinking. The more that is practiced, the more one can have access to one’s thought process with clarity. Eventually, that helps in conversations with others as well.
Creative writing will only push the writer to be more precise as it requires efforts to engage your audience with a unique thought. You want the reader to be engaged with your story. Then the key is to be more apt with words. It’s a vice-versa process. The need to be precise makes you more disciplined in creative writing and eventually, that process makes you more habitual to mindful words.
- Source of entertainment and stressbuster: Art has to be enjoyed and not taken as a burden to showcase your perfection. Creative writing can offer that enlightenment and entertainment both if the making process is lived more enthusiastically. One can express just for the sake of expressing and having fun. That is okay! It can be helpful to bring some ease to a child’s learning journey by releasing the tension or pressure of academics.
- Helps in expanding your brain: Decluttering your thoughts through writing helps neurologically. Our brain is plastic, which means it is flexible and can change or evolve. When you pen words on paper, or screen for that matter, the neurons in your brain fire signals at rapid speed, thus enabling you to make more connections. It develops muscle memory and committing to creative writing can only widen the intellectual capacity.
How to practice creative writing skills?
- Start writing – As simple or naive as it may sound, that is the first step and most important one. Most people have the urge to express themselves and only make up stories in their minds. They feel anxious or not ready to convey aptly. But like any other process, one has to begin doing rather than thinking about doing. That is a crucial investment. Students can write anything. Just journals and raw thoughts as they come to mind without brushing them up much. It could be about personal experiences or just an observation. Just write first. It can be enrolled into daily practice.
Next step in this is to wander with your thoughts as far as you can. Imagination knows no boundaries. Explore it. The thought of logic primarily should not be the hindrance to creating something unique and personal to you. The technicalities of narration and structure can be learnt but the necessary task is to allow oneself to be honest with your imagination.
- Read, read a lot, and be diverse. – That is a no-brainer but again a necessary rule. Read all sorts of books that pave the way for different types of emotions and visions. Explore multiple genres and writing styles. The classics and the contemporaries. Best-sellers – local, regional, national and international. Pop culture will serve similar types of content but a curious mind will go beyond what is being consumed in the mainstream.
- Integrate academia with creative writing – Expressing the stress of studies in the form of stories could be the most entertaining way of self-indulgence but also escape to a different world for a while.
This is not meant to distract students, but to bring some ease in the overall process and validate the negative or positive emotions that they come across during learning multiple subjects.
Creative writing can be used to write poetry about titration, a widely famous chemistry experiment among students. One can just combine the technical terms and express it in the form of a poem talking about the colors that form during the process and attaching it to any analogy of life altogether. That’s just a hint! You can write a letter to Newton, conveying the difficulty in understanding gravitation law altogether. The idea is to understand a subject or lesson through wordplay and have fun!
- Observe – Facilitators should guide children to observe more. Observe all kinds of art forms, real people, spaces, etc. Once that is done, the student can write down his or her viewpoint about it. Form an opinion and compare or discuss it with others. Creative writing can flourish when there is a healthy exchange of what one has perceived. This can be a classroom exercise wherein students share their opinions about a film. Everyone’s opinion can be different. That should be motivated and be the way to build a better discourse around that film. It will help students in having the confidence to express themselves creatively in ways that could be unique and accepted as well.
These tips are the foundational ones and do not cover specific activities as such. As the name goes, creative writing can be explored in subjective artsy ways and there is no rule to that wandering at all. What matters is understanding the core basics, mentioned above, that need to be present while experimenting with different techniques.
Vidyanchal High School leans towards delving into this fun way of learning and our vision is always the overall development of our children. We want to make sure we act as we believe and hence train our staff and teachers to encourage such inventive tasks in their facilitation process as well. After all, what could be more good than knowing that our students tomorrow have become great storytellers and poets, whose words have inspired and made people feel more connected to their human selves?