We live in a society that scowls at us if we answer “creative writing” to the question, “What is your passion in life?” It’s not fighting for justice in court, saving lives in an OR, perfecting marketing strategies for billion-dollar corporations, or engineering the next big invention that will take over the world. It’s a “waste of time” to sit in front of Microsoft Word for hours concocting stories that could never happen in real life. It’s “unrealistic” to believe it can be made into a substantial career. It’s “counterproductive” in a culture that thrives on practicality and twenty-year plans. “How do you expect to be successful when all you do is write stories about nothing? Stupid romance novels that are laughable compared to the achievements of your peers researching in labs for hours every day.” It’s time to destigmatize creative writing and to stop making those who spend years working on 80,000 word manuscripts feel like their work is insignificant.
As someone whose life revolves around writing fiction, the negative stigma that has developed over the last decade toward creative writing resonates deeply with me. Pursuing a degree in the humanities is already a red flag to most, and when they find out about my concentration in creative writing, they do not even try to hide their disapproval. What all of those people fail to consider is the skill to takes to write a script, a short story, a sonnet, a novel. It takes a lot more than just an active imagination to creatively write—there are hours staring at a blinking cursor, agonizing moments of looking for that perfect word, deciding how to include images to systematically show the progression of the protagonist, somehow getting all of your thoughts and ideas down on the page, and then spending weeks of editing all for there to be only a chance that after all of that work the piece will turn out well. The discipline it takes to not only write a piece but to then not let negative feedback from others (and often, from yourself) discourage you from going through the entire process again is a skill that most writers spend their entire lives perfecting. But in the end, when you create a story that is magical and vibrant and alive, all of the people who looked down upon you no longer matter.
I am so thankful that I attend a university and am a member of a department that celebrates creative writing instead of degrading it. The English Department here at UD offers numerous classes in different branches of creative writing for students to explore their writing capabilities in a serious and formal setting. Out of all the classes I have taken here, the ones in creative writing have by far been my favorite. The environment of other passionate writers all working together to make each other better is the support that writers should feel everywhere. Creative writing should not be disrespected or condemned as just a silly “hobby” any longer. Stigmatizing anything a person dedicates his/her time to is the only thing that is “counterproductive” in this “progressive” culture.