Re: Creativity

Subject: Re: Creativity
From: Jennifer Jelinek <jlkraus -at- AMETEKWATER -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 4 Aug 1997 13:12:05 -0500

Put a check next to my name on the creative/technical writers list. I write mostly short stories and "literary" non-fiction/memoir. Had a short story and several poems published in my university lit magazine, as well as a local writing anthology and an academic journal. Since I've graduated (wow, over six months now), I've been lazy and haven't written much or sent anything out. But now that I'm more settled into life in the "real" world and am living in a new home w/ a separate writing area, I'm starting to branch out into creative prose again. The writing itself is a good departure from technical writing; it's the sitting down in front of the computer when I get home that makes it difficult for me (since I sit in front of one for a good part of the day). Lately, I've found a good way to get into it is to start with my old fashioned pen and paper journal, and then when that spawns an idea I want to work with, I'll migrate to the computer.

As for the relative difficulty of writing a novel if one is a tech writer...I'd say just as difficult as if you weren't a tech writer. Novels are hard for everyone to write, in my opinion...good novelists only make them look easy. Formula novels such as romances, westerns, spy novels etc. are slightly easier, and in those situations I think the tech writer's eye for consistency would be a great asset (NOTE: I'm not knocking these types of writing by calling them formula; I recently arranged my bookshelves alphabetically and found a romance novel positioned rather amusingly between The Plague and Heart of Darkness).

As far as creative writing classes go...I've taken them, and I think they teach some valuable techniques. I think these classes are most valuable when combined with a good, honest writing workshop. I don't necessarily think a good workshop is easy to find; I've had the pleasure of being in some great ones and some really crappy ones. The great ones helped my writing enormously; the crappy ones were a waste of an hour a week filled with comments like "Gee, I really like it on page four where you describe the girl's outfit. That was really cool." The best way to go? Find a mentor who writes things you like to read. Find other writers whose opinions you value and who you can trust to tell you the truth about your writing, not just what they think you want to hear. If you find a class or workshop that someone recommends, take it. Also, check out the Writer's Market series of books...they give very extensive listings of magazines/journals/small presses, etc. that accept pieces of creative writing, along with descriptions of the kind of material each outlet prefers. And then just write...and (like tech writing) be prepared to revise.

My 2 cents

Jennifer Jelinek
Ametek Water Filters
Jlkraus -at- ametekwater -dot- com

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