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Friday, May 20, 2016

Why Learn Creative Writing in High School?



As co-director of Homeschool Connections, I occasionally hear parents dismiss our suggestion of one year of creative writing studies in high school. The reason for this dismissal usually falls under one or both of these:

  1. Creative writing is frivolous and is not an academic exercise.
  2. My child isn't looking to be a novelist and he has no desire to major in English in college.

If you haven't considered creative writing for high school, or if you have dismissed it outright, I challenge you to reconsider. Please hear me out as I make my case that creative writing is one of the most important studies your high school student could undertake:

Top Ten: Why Learn Creative Writing?
  1. Engages your imagination. As Christians we believe that God is the Great Imagination. He created each one of us and this world we live in. Made in His image, it is only natural that we too want to create. It is good and healthy to engage our imaginations.
  2. Helps you with literary analysis. We've had a number of parents report to us that their students' grades in literature greatly improve after taking our fiction-writing courses. The fiction students also find they are well prepared for college-level literary analysis. In studying how to write a good story, you also learn how to analyze other works of fiction.
  3. Gives you opportunities to practice writing basics (punctation; grammar; sentence structure; vocabulary; and more). Mechanical precision is important in all kinds of writing.
  4. Sharpens your thinking power. It takes a different skill set to write a creative piece compared to academic writing. It takes a different type of focus, a different part of your brain, and it takes originality.
  5. Encourages strong communication skills. An author can communicate their worldview by using various voices embedded within well-told narrative. The themes of poetry and fiction can inspire the deepest of dialogue. Creative writing teaches students how to grab the attention of their audience and make a strong point, often in a short amount of time.
  6. We all yearn to share our stories. This is demonstrated by the 56 million WordPress blogs and 76 million Tumblrs currently in place. In sharing our stories with others, we can better understand one another. 
  7. You can change the world. The novel Uncle Tom's Cabin was instrumental in changing hearts and minds in our country regarding slavery. It was not an academic paper that made people think twice about the evils of slavery. It was a piece of fiction. Creative writing can improve the state of our lives, both personally and globally. 
  8. You can create something compelling. Fiction and narrative nonfiction outsell all other genres in our country. A piece of fiction can be persuasive, a memoir can be informative, a screenplay can raise a heart to God, a poem can bring peace to a worried soul. The examples are endless. 
  9. Trains students to be concise writers. To keep the attention of the audience, a creative piece must get to the point and be focused. Meandering writers lose their audience.
  10. We imitate Jesus. Good stories stir our hearts. They reflect the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. Jesus didn’t just tell us, “Be kind to others”, he told us the parable of the Good Samaritan. He didn’t just tell us, “Share the Good News”, he told us the parable of the Lamp Under the Basket. He didn’t just tell us, “If you lose faith, I’ll still watch over you and I’ll rejoice when you find it again”, he told us the parable of the Lost Sheep.
If you asked before, "Why learn creative writing?", I hope this top-ten list has changed your question to "Why NOT learn creative writing?" 

Learning to write academic papers is a very important part of a good high school education. However, it is only part of a good writing program. We encourage you to also include creative writing in your homeschool. 

One last word on the topic ... Creative writing has the reputation in some circles of being an "easy class".  This is not true in our experience. We do see higher grades issued and we see homework turned in more timely in our creative writing courses. However, students do well because it's enjoyable. They often embrace fiction writing, poetry, etc. They get good grades because they look forward to the work, even though it is hard work indeed.

Remember: William Shakespeare was a creative writer and there's nothing easy or frivolous about Shakespeare.

Homeschool Connections offers a complete writing program, which includes a wide variety of creative writing courses in addition to our foundational and advanced writing courses:
  • Fiction-Writing Series made up of eight four-week courses
  • The Hero's Journey Series made up of two eight-week courses
  • Screenwriting Series made up of two eight-week courses
  • Poetry Series made up of two fourteen-week courses
Also available is the Business Writing Series (two eight-week courses). The first course in the series is on how to write professional correspondence and the second course is on journalism.
At Homeschool Connections, we recommend at least one year of fiction writing. This is after students have taken basic prerequisites such as punctuation and grammar. For students who have a real love for creative writing, want to make it a part-time hobby, or a full-time career, we offer a full slate of creative writing courses. Students can hone their poetry-writing skills, get the support they need to write a full novel, and even write their own movie script. 


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