The Why of Writing

Full confession: I can’t teach you how to write.

That might not be something you’d expect a creative writing instructor to say, but it’s the truth. And, in spite of whatever the reality TV shows may lead you to believe, the vocal coach can’t teach you how to sing. The dance instructor can’t teach you how to cha-cha.

And while you can learn the steps, the chords or the adjectives, the role of any instructor should be to show you the “why” of your creativity, rather than the “how.”

Writing, like any art form, is about expression. It’s about carefully selecting words to articulate the things and feelings you can’t easily describe. It’s about mood and undercurrents and the unspoken of our daily lives. Writing is about giving shape to your experiences and observations. It’s about making sense—or, at the very least, an attempt to make sense—of the complicated lives we lead.

What I try to do in my Intro to Creative Writing course is show you why your writing is important. I want you to reconsider your experiences. To discover doorways you might not have noticed. To see the familiar in a way that feels unfamiliar. Above all, I want to help you understand the importance of your creativity and encourage the ways your writing will surprise, mystify and delight you.

What I hope you walk away with is a sense of possibility. There are ideas and characters you carry around every day that need to find their place on the page. Even if you never publish anything, it’s the journey of your writing, the value you place on your own creative expression, that will hopefully prove to be the most rewarding — and lasting — part of the process.