When you read a good poem, do you wonder how the writer managed to form such interesting images? When you read a novel, do you think about how the author created characters you can relate to?
If you study creative writing, you’ll try to answer questions like these, analyzing poetry and fiction to learn how writers create successful work. And, of course, you’ll try your hand at creating your own work, which you’ll share with professors and classmates. Although it’s very unlikely that you’ll make a living from writing poetry or fiction, you will gain the skills needed to work in fields such as editing, publishing, journalism, and advertising.
Students of creative writing focus on the construction of poetry and prose. They read and analyze the work of established writers and write original creative work.
“The writing process teaches you discipline and strength. It ‘toughens’ you in the best sense of the word, allowing you to recognize the possibilities in yourself and the world around you.” Jonathan Fink, Creative Writing Fellow in Poetry, Emory University
Are You Ready To...?
- Give readings of your work in public
- Work on the staff of the school literary magazine
- Revise your work in response to comments from others
- Accept criticism of your work graciously
- Share your creative work with professors and classmates
- Keep to a schedule for completing writing assignments
- Study the history of various literary genres
- Read contemporary writers
- Complete a collection of poems, stories, or essays as a senior project
- Attend the readings of classmates and visiting writers
It Helps To Be...
Open to experiencing a wide range of texts and up for analyzing the writing of others. You should also have independent work habits and strong writing and speaking skills.
- Does the school offer creative writing as an independent major, a minor, or a concentration within the English major?
- What courses have been offered in the last few years?
- Will you have the chance to study and write creative nonfiction, drama, or screen writing?
- Read the work of the professors. Do you like it? Do they stick to a certain style of writing (such as narrative poetry versus experimental poetry)?
- Are there professors who don't teach, or who only teach grad students?
- What is the average class size?
- Does the university invite visiting writers to read on campus?
- Will you have the chance to get involved in literary journals or readings?
- What literary or cultural opportunities are available in the surrounding community?
“You stay up all night because you get into [the writing]; you want to find out how to express an idea and make it real ... That's part of the joy of it. --” Dorothy, creative writing, San Francisco State University
As you advance in your studies, you'll have the chance to take a writing workshop in either fiction or poetry. In this course, you’ll critique the work of your classmates and receive comments on your own creative pieces. This process can be difficult to get used to, but it’s meant to help you improve your writing.
You’ll probably have to revise your work, taking the advice of your professor and your classmates into account, and hand in a final draft.