I ask myself this question every time I start a creative writing class. It’s the beginning of the semester, and I have high hopes for what I’ll accomplish. Maybe I’m naive, but I foresee a wide variety of stories, short stories, long stories, big stories, small stories. Each writer has their own challenge; mine is writing a good piece that pushes past ten pages. That’s why my fallback is poetry. It can be short, sweet, to the point, and no one will fault me for the length. Every time I start a creative writing class, my goal is to overcome this obstacle and reach a different level of knowledge or ability that will allow me to write fifteen, twenty, thirty pages. Although I haven’t found a definitive solution to my problem, I’ve noticed that the type of class and my own habits heavily influence my proficiency in writing fiction.
Depending on the type of writer someone is, a more structured class may be less effective versus a free-flowing course without deadlines. For example, I wrote and grew very little during a workshop class where I had absolutely no deadlines other than a final portfolio. However, in my current class, which has regular weekly deadlines and accountability, I find myself much more motivated to write, because I am a deadline-oriented person with a Type A, overly-organized personality. Looking back, I wish that I would have asked my teacher who didn’t create deadlines to create some specially for me, to prompt myself to write more. I realize now that I needed to know myself better as a writer to take that initiative and make the best decisions–the ones most conducive to my learning and reaching my goals.
As for methods, once again, I’ve found that each person is different and needs to find what works and doesn’t work for them. Personally, I hate writing when listening to music that doesn’t suit the mood of the story I’m writing. I hate the mornings, so I never write before the afternoon. I don’t like planning my stories before writing because it limits my thoughts and the potential roads a piece can take. Once again, deadlines help. Even if I don’t flesh out my story on the page until the night before the first draft is due, at least I end up writing and creating something. My ultimate goal when taking a creative writing class is just to put new things, ideas, characters, places, descriptions onto the page. Whether they end up being consequential or forgotten is unimportant to me; I only want to exercise the fiction chunk of my brain and see that the cogs are still well-oiled.
By Haleema Smith