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Oh, the Things You Can Learn From Creative Writing - Part I

Podcast Audio Link: Click here.

Podcast Transcript: Hi, genuine writers! This is Innovative Editing’s Jeannette DiLouie welcoming you to episode #23 of The Genuine Writer Podcast. We keep things short, sweet and to the point here so that you can learn what you need to learn and get back to writing already.

Today’s episode – which is going to start the conversation about just a few of the things you can learn from creative writing – is once again sponsored by the ever-awesome and historically accurate Maiden America, a spy story set in Princeton, New Jersey, at a time when American rights were on very shaky ground. Forced to house British officers against her will, Abigail Carpenter soon figures out exactly how providential that position is. If they’re going to claim her home as their own, then why shouldn’t she be as free with the information they’re more than willing to talk about in front of her?

I’ll make sure to include a link for Maiden America in the description section so you can get a copy today.

Speaking of copies, I recently did a speech at the Christian Homeschoolers Association of Pennsylvania, or CHAP, 2019 convention titled “Oh, the Things You Can Learn From Creative Writing.” And since the information applies just as well to you guys as my audience there, I figured that I’d share it right here over the next few weeks. The presentation itself was 50 minutes, so I’m thinking it will take me about three to four episodes to get through. Since I’m going to be off next week, that has us wrapping everything up on the 15th or 22nd of July, which is too far away to contemplate. So let’s just get right down to our topic of choice, beginning with this little intro…

So, I’ve been interested in creative writing for a long time. Like a very long time. Since I was five years old, in fact. And I’m a little bit past that age today. Over the span of my writing years, I have learned so much that it’s hard – perhaps even impossible – to quantify. And I keep right on learning every time I practice my craft again. That’s the beauty of it: You never run out of opportunities to learn and grow and improve yourself. That’s why I thank God for every bit of growth I’ve gotten out of this hobby-turned-career-path of mine. I sincerely will just stop what I’m doing sometimes and let him know how grateful I am for this gift he’s given me. Because it is a gift. And a very useful one too.

With that said, for the record, I’m not going to stand up here and claim that every single child or every single person should be a creative writer. I do think that, most of the time, you’re either born with the drive to write stories or you’re not. There are exceptions to that rule, of course, but I’m not a proponent of forcing creative writing on anyone.

What I am a proponent of is encouraging people to write if they have the desire to do so. Because, again, this is anything but a useless hobby. The learning opportunities are literally – and literarily – endless once you start down that path.

So what exactly can the pursuit of creative writing teach you? Let’s start out with the most obvious one, which is that it teaches you how to write.

Now, you can argue all you want that there’s a difference between creative writing – claiming that it’s only so useful – and noncreative writing, claiming that it serves a multitude of purposes. And to a large degree, you would be right. But to a very important degree, you’d be missing a much bigger picture.

For one thing, I don’t know if you all have noticed, but the noncreative writing world is trending toward a much more laidback, conversational kind of presentation these days. Of course, this can be taken way too far, but I’m not talking about sloppy text messages and the kind of badly written, badly edited articles you see on Yahoo. You see it in nonfiction books, such as 1776 by David McCullough, online publications such as whatever daily news source you utilize, business website copy and the like.

One of my major clients at Innovative Editing is an investment guru named Brad Thomas. He’s a really great, knowledgeable and ethical guy who analyzes a particular category of stocks known as real estate investment trusts, or REITs. And his specific articles use a conversational tone as well. They present information as if they’re friendly dialogues – admittedly, very one-sided ones – between him and the reader. In fact, so does every single one of his competitors out there that I know of, and I used to work directly in investment-specific publishing before I struck out on my own. So I know a lot of these writers and their writing.

Even textbooks are starting to follow this trend, so traditionally technical writing isn’t really in much demand any more. Not unless you’re planning on going for your doctorate. And even then, you’re probably going to want to know how to construct a conversational essay at least every once in a while.

Learning how to be an effective creative writer is therefore automatically going to give you a positive edge in the writing world because most creative writing is automatically done in conversational tones.

So there’s that. In addition, it’s a great way to expand one’s vocabulary – a mental database that obviously lends just as well to fiction writing as it does to nonfiction writing.

At the risk of going off on a bunny trail, the English language is one of the most annoying collections of grammatical rules and exceptions to those grammatical rules that the Tower of Babel could ever result in. One of my biggest pet-peeves is the fact that there doesn’t seem to be any rationale to what compound words are one word, what are hyphenated words and which ones are two words.

For instance, the very term “bunny trail” is spelled out as two words. Who decided that’s how it should be when there are plenty of other separate words that get smashed together?

I’m a professional editor, yet I’ll be the first person to say that it makes no sense, and it’s really annoying.

However, when it comes to vocabulary definitions, that intense hodge-podge complexity becomes an inviting pool that just beckons writers to dive on in. Because while one word may have seven different synonyms, each one will have a slightly different denotation or connotation, some meaningful essence to it that sets it apart, making it perfect for some sentences and not quite right for others.

That means that creative writers are always looking things up in the thesaurus to find “just the right word” to describe the sky our main character is looking up at, or the aura our villain is radiating or the exact smile our secondary character is wearing.

Is it a smirk? Or maybe a grin? Is he, she or it beaming?

Regardless, the more words we look up, the more words we’re bound to learn. The more words we learn, the better we’re going to be able to express ourselves on paper or off.

Who needs vocabulary drills when you’re creative writing?

I think I’m going to end our intro to “Oh, the Things You Can Learn From Creative Writing” on that first point, only because the second point is really pretty long. I think it takes up a whopping 16 minutes by itself, and, as I always state at the beginning of the podcast, these episodes are supposed to be on the shorter side so that you can still fit some actual creative writing into your busy day. Therefore, we’ll get right back to discussing the topic on hand on the first of July.

In the meantime, thanks as always for tuning into The Genuine Writer Podcast. It’s wonderful to have you here, and I’ll catch you writers in two weeks. Until then, very happy writing!

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