15 Unfortunate Problems Every Creative Writing Major Attempts To Get Over

Flickr / April Killingsworth
Flickr / April Killingsworth

1. A Creative Writing teacher is more likely to tell you how to interpret a text.

A student should not be told how to interpret a text. It is one thing to correct a student if he or she makes a factual error about a plot point but students are supposed form their own opinions and meaning from a text.

2. Creative Writing teachers are more biased towards literary fiction.

There’s nothing wrong with literary fiction. It just tends to be boring. There’s nothing interesting about having a quiet story where the art of writing is more important than the actual story being told. The biggest newsflash of all is that commercial and genre fiction is just as popular as literary fiction if not more. Just because a novel isn’t literary fiction doesn’t mean it doesn’t have merit. It does. Creative Writing teachers just don’t realize it.

3. Some of the teachers don’t know how to lead a workshop.

It’s kind of funny. A teacher should be able to figure out how to lead a Creative Writing workshop. That isn’t the case with some teachers. A student needs to know what is working and what isn’t working with his or her piece of writing. Perhaps teachers need to hear the phrase “accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.”

4. Skill is subjective.

That’s a big problem with being a writer. A writer can’t please everyone. People have different definitions of what makes a piece of writing “well written,” which means looking at a work is subjective. The problem is teachers are also subjective.

5. Your teachers will grade on their definition of skill.

That becomes unfair, as it has already been established that writing is subjective, which means a student is at a teacher’s mercy.

6. Students will be forced to create the work for the teacher as opposed to working on their writing craft.

A student should not be bullied to make the work to please the teacher(s). While there’s nothing wrong with throwing around an occasional plot suggestion, the work needs to follow the student’s vision, not the teacher’s. A problem clearly exists when a student begins to question whether they are working on their craft or not.

7. You can’t please the teachers even when you try and mold the story/poem/script to their preferences.

This point is probably one of the most alarming out of all 15 as it exemplifies there’s no winning with some Creative Writing teachers. A teacher still might not be happy even when the student follows the suggestions.

8. Students might be required to go to readings that the Creative Writing department has set up.

There’s nothing wrong with going to events on a student’s college campus. However, teachers aren’t parents and cannot force a student to go to an event. Also, students are going to be a less likely to want to go to an event after having their spirit broken time after time. It’s simple logic.

9. The students are just as bad as the teachers.

This point is also kind of alarming as students will play favorites and be nothing but positive for one student and nothing but negative for another one. That picture is messed up. Students shouldn’t play favorites with each other. The student who got nothing but positive comments from his peers could surely improve on something while the student who got nothing but negative comments probably did at least one thing right with his or her work.

10. The teachers aren’t approachable.

Based on everything that has been discussed so far, one might suffice to say a student should talk to their Creative Writing teacher(s) if they have a problem. Well, the fact of the matter is, it’s hard for a student to approach their teacher(s) when said teacher(s) have created an oppressive environment.

11. They don’t realize shyness has nothing to do with laziness.

Some students like to talk more than others. It doesn’t make a student a bad person if he or she isn’t as talkative as others. That’s okay. The important thing is that students do all the required homework.

12. A student shouldn’t be punished because they can’t please a teacher.

Feedback is meant to help a student. Points shouldn’t keep being “deducted” from a student’s final grade/assignment grade just because the student cannot fit the teacher’s skewed bias of the world. The “dirty little secret” is students deserve an A if they are putting a good faith effort into the course and doing the homework.

13. A student might have to imitate their work after another writer.

There’s nothing wrong with students looking at writers to improve their craft. But a student shouldn’t have to have their work imitate another work, especially if the student is in a 3000 level class. The point is for students to use their minds and create “unique” work.

14.Students might still be “put on the spot” to participate.

Even if they are shy and a teacher does not like the student. This point doesn’t make any sense. A student is going to be less inclined to participate if he or she feels the teacher doesn’t think they have anything valid to say. Therefore, a Creative Writing teacher shouldn’t waste their time putting a shy student “on the spot.” It’s a waste of both of their time.

15. You can’t change city hall.

All of the gripes with Creative Writing teachers are legitimate as students are entitled to their opinions. However, a student needs to realize the teachers aren’t going to change. A Creative Writing student just needs to be aware of the issues and continue writing despite the lack of support at his or her university’s Creative Writing department. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Chris Bedell’s previous publishing credits include essays on Thought Catalog, short stories on Crab Fat Literary Magazine, Short-story.me, Quail Bell Magazine, Pidgeonholes Magazine, Abbreviate Journal, creative nonfiction personal essays on Inklette Magazine, Sprout Magazine, and Entropy Magazine.

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