Monday, June 3, 2013

Writing Craft: Choosing to Write

It is a sad, sad day, for this day concludes my Writing Craft classes. It is the end of semester and as of just over three hours ago, I completed the unit (minus handing in the final assignment). I've really enjoyed this semester and I'm so sad to see classes over. Twelve weeks with like-minded and creative people and a fun and inspirational lecturer and tutor has been fun and I feel like I've learned so much, but that I'm not ready to stop. Of course, there will be more creative writing related classes next semester and I'm sure I'll find myself with some of the same people in classes and meet more and more new people too. 

Why? Choosing to Write

Readings for this week were Solutions by Janet Frame (pages 78-87) and The Glass Essay by Anne Carson (pages 1-38). 

This lecture didn't focus on a certain aspect of how to write or writing techniques like the previous classes did, but rather focused on asking students why they write and why they write the way they do. 

I write because...
The lecturer gave us a few minutes and asked us to individually write down how we would end that sentence.
I write because... I love to and I need to. Because if I don't, I'll go crazy. Because if I don't, how will I share everything wonderful and terrifying that happens inside my head? 
There were heaps of different answers and some people read theirs out to everybody. What our lecturer wanted to stress was that there is no wrong answer to this question. Everybody write's for their own reasons, and some people write for many different reasons. Answers may change over time or in different situations, but there is no such thing as a wrong answer here.

There are different ways to look at writing. The first way we discussed was writing as a form of art. I think this is the form I am most inclined to associate with my own writing. You can do the same thing with words that you can do with paint or film or another medium, if you do it right, and if you really put your heart into it. You can collaborate with people from other fields of art: thespians and film-makers need someone to write their scripts, photographers and painters need someone to write up a bio for them or write a poem to accompany a one of their pictures. This isn't to say that writer's can't be multi-disciplinary or that people in other professions aren't capable of writing for themselves, but it's still an option; writing alongside other forms of art. Like any form of art, writing is easily used as a form of expression for ideas and thoughts.

With the ability to express through writing, as with any form of art, might also come the fear of writing. Our lecturer showed us this video of Jacques Derrida talking about how he feels fear when writing... please excuse his French:

Aside from as an artistic medium, writing can me seen as a skill and as a profession, though the class agreed that this should be seen as more of a parallel to seeing it artistically rather than opposing it. Writing is a craft or a skill and this means it's something that you can DO. It involves practicing and progressively getting better at it. And practice here means that we continue doing it, even if our ideas aren't very good, so that when a really good idea does spring up, we can catch it and write it down the best we can straight away instead of waiting for a good idea to practice on.

As a practice, writing becomes a stable framework within which wild and unpredictable explorations and discoveries can be welcomed, or as my lecturer put it "A stable framework for craziness." As a practice, it could either be defined as something you actively do, or as a part of your identity because you do it.

Writing - and I'm sure that a lot of people start out this way, I definitely venture into this area at times - find writing to be a therapeutic and that writing well is even more so, or as a way of helping you think.

There are probably countless reasons for writing and of course there is no wrong answer. But our lecturer left us with something to think about: what is the difference between being a writer and just writing? If there is one. Personally, I think that if you consider you writing as a part of your identity, you can then identify as being a writer, but if you just write and don't really consider it a huge part of yourself, perhaps you're only writing. Of course, that's just my own opinion and I'm sure people will disagree, so please don't hate.

Nonetheless, I will pose the question to you: is there a difference between being a writer and just writing? 

And why do YOU write? 

And that concludes Writing Craft! I hope these posts have been informative and helpful to at least one person. Have a nice day.

- Bonnee.


  1. Hey, didn't I answer this question for you in a guest post?

    In regards to the 'being a writer' vs. 'just writing' question, I think it does depend a lot on how you view yourself, and the role writing plays in your life. In that regard, yes, I am a writer.

    However, if someone asks me what I *do*, I don't feel I can answer "I'm a writer." It's not how I make my living, it's not even yet how I supplement my income. While I'm becoming increasingly comfortable telling people that I write and am trying to get published, I don't quite feel like I could answer that question with, "I am a writer." Not yet, anyway.

    Thanks for sharing so much of your class with us. I've really enjoyed it. Enjoy your break!

    1. Yes, I believe you did answer this question in a guest post here :)

      I'm lucky enough to still be studying, so no one asks me what I "do" unless they mean "what are you studying?" But I guess that's looking at it in a professional sense; looking at it in a more artistic sense, I think we can say we are writers if writing is a big part of ourselves. I see both sides of the argument here.

      Thanks for checking out all of my posts and I'm glad you've enjoyed them! :)

    2. It's actually funny how we come to be identified so much by what we 'do', as in jobs/profession. Yes, in an artistic sense, I am a writer, and that is far more important to me than what I'm 'doing' now to pay the bills.

      Hmm, this feels like a future blog post coming on....

    3. I think it's definitely something writer's should think about and if we blog I don't see why we should pose the question and give our opinions to each other. :)

  2. Wow, your semester feels like it's flown by! Seriously, where has the time gone?

    Hmm, why do I write? I write because the stories in my imagination clamor to be told, because the characters I create take up residence in my thoughts and won't leave, because writing opens new worlds and teaches new things .... but most of all, I write because I can't not write. :)

    1. I love that some people will answer with that; that they can't not write. Thanks for sharing you answer, Shari :)

  3. That has got me pondering; "is there a difference between being a writer and just writing? "
    Maybe both are the same or come to think of it, if people read your articles (on a regular basis) then you have arrived - yes you are a writer.

    1. Yes, I can see how that you could be an appropriate answer :) At least in some cases. Thank you :)

  4. Usually your teacher assigns about four books with a few pages to read from each book, so I was surprised to see so many pages to read from THE GLASS ESSAYS. I found it on the internet and Anne Carson's poems/essays are interesting. I liked the start of her THE HERO and will read it slowly. I'm more about writing than being a writer. I never planned to be a writer. It just happened. I'm more into Music as an art form, wrote a China Musical and then decided to make it also into a book and that's how I became a writer. From all the art forms, Writing is probably the more difficult because it takes such a long time to write so many pages and then make so many revisions. But as you posted, Writing is also a profession. Your program will provide you with writing skills that can be used in many areas. In the United States many large companies said that prefer to hire liberal art students because they know how to communicate well verbally and in writing. Written communication is very valuable in the business world. Enjoy the vacation and the sadness will go away once the new semester will start.

    1. There have been a few of the bigger excerpts from the one reading in some weeks, but considering it's in a poetry format, I guess the word-count isn't so high. I enjoyed The Glass Essay and we were informed at the end of the lecture that we'd be looking at that particular piece again next semester in Writing Spaces.

      I don't think everything we are in life needs to be what we planned to be, and like in your case, some things just come to be. I don't consider writing to be harder or easier than any other form of art; it's all dependent on where your strengths and weaknesses are. I am not visually artistic in any way, no matter how hard I try, and I cannot play musical instruments very well... I am far too uncoordinated for that. In some respects, I definitely agree with you, especially as far as revisions go, but I think similar things or some sort of equivalent difficulty would be found in other forms of art.

      I'm very excited to be learning what is seen as a skill, especially considering how many people these days don't know how to read and write properly... They might be university students like myself, but I've been told so many times this semester that reading essays written by Law students is the worst because none of them seem to know how to write properly. That's worrying...

      I'm very excited for next semester! Thanks for stopping by as always Giora!

  5. Ahh, the end of an era...

    And the beginning of a bright new light :)

    I write 'cos like, the voices in me head keep arguing, like.

    In other words, I'd go crazy, too:)

    Congrats on finishing :)

    GOOD LUCK on your next endeavor :)

    1. I think there are a lot of us who can say we'd go crazy if we didn't write. Thanks for stopping by Mark :D

  6. Great post -- sounds like you really enjoyed your semester. I couldn't wait to get out of school and start making money for myself, but there were some classes I enjoyed. I write because it's fun. Don't get me wrong, it's a LOT of work. But it's so worth it when I can share my stories with the world.

    1. I'll admit I can't wait, but at the same time I don't want to stop learning. There's always going to be something new and interesting and fun to learn.

      No matter how hard the work can get, I agree that it's a lot of fun. Keep writing :)


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