The Birth, Death, and Rebirth of a Creative Writer

Kately Rivero // Blog Writer

As a young child, I thoroughly enjoyed reading and the accompanying escapism and knowledge. As I grew older, it only seemed natural that I would gain an interest in writing as well. My late middle school and early high school years saw me toying with the idea of writing novels, but that creative outlet was then hidden away, as I believed my writing – in a creative sense – to be incredibly disappointing. At the end of high school, I fell in love with creative writing again, only to learn that I no longer wanted to be the writer; rather, I wanted to work with them. 

I entered college with aspirations of being an editor and began my scholastic career majoring in Journalism. I was soon taking creative writing classes. I entered that class wanting to gain knowledge of writing aside from journalistic reports and essays.

These classes, in my experience, go in one of two ways: it breaks your spirit and love of writing, or it encourages you and pushes your drive to be a better writer. I remember sitting in that stuffy classroom and feeling incredibly intimidated as students introduced themselves and revealed how they were published multiple times and were heavily involved in the creative arts magazines at the college we were attending. This isn’t to say that these classes shouldn’t challenge you – they definitely should. However, when a professor begins to push certain ideas onto students and allows for other published students to carry themselves with an air of superiority over those who have not had that chance, then other students lose the desire to want to write. It will never match the extremely high expectations set. Workshops in this class offered very little sound advice and felt derogatory in general, especially as a student with a different major and new to creative writing. 

I ended that class feeling so incredibly discouraged with writing and literature in general that I placed all my efforts in making my choice in journalism feel right. But that summer I decided to take that creative writing class again with a new professor, and my experience shifted in a slightly better direction. There were again students who were published, but they never bragged about those accomplishments. Students were supportive of one another and provided great advice in workshops. The professor also fostered an environment that allowed for growth, and he provided advice without demeaning or discouraging new writers. I left that class feeling comfortable with writing, and by the time I signed up for my next course, I was feeling slightly more confident in the skills I gained. 

I once again tried a new professor, and this time around I fell in love with writing and literature all over again. She introduced the class to a variety of new mediums and encouraged us to give it a shot as we never knew if we would gain a new strength. She never held our hands, but she provided great and thorough advice and allowed us to explore and write what interested us. She challenged us to break out of our comfort zones in writing and encouraged students to dissect our work and provide valuable advice to our peers.

It also helped that we had a student peer mentor for the class. This was someone who understood our stories and struggles as writers in a personal way. I found myself growing as a writer and realized that I was able to identify what does and does not work in specific pieces. I was enjoying writing creatively again. I ended the semester as an English major with the same vigorous desire to work with literary writers as I once dreamed in high school. 

These experiences are why I cannot recommend enough finding the right fit for a person as a creative writer. If the environment is degrading toward other writers, especially new writers trying to find their interests, then that can kill any desire to pursue this form of writing and send these budding writers in a different path where they endlessly force themselves to attempt a different medium. Again, that isn’t to say that every environment needs to house “yes people;” it definitely shouldn’t. These environments should house people willing to provide constructive criticism without an incessant need to remind those other writers as to how much better they are in comparison. Yes, other people write better than others, but that doesn’t give anyone the right to be condescending to another fellow writer. People join these classes and workshops with the intention to improve their writing and gain valuable advice, hence why the environment is vastly important. If I had never found the right environment I would still be fervently trying to make myself enjoy reporting, despite knowing I didn’t have a “reporter’s eye.” It’s genuinely acceptable to try new groups and new professors in these workshops and classes; everyone deserves the chance to have their work be criticized and not merely demeaned. Everyone deserves to have a chance with a professor that will challenge them to grow and allow them to use writing as an outlet. At the end of the day, creative writing is just that: an outlet. 

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