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Borrowing from Creative Writing to Teach Academic Writing

The two disciplines of academic and creative writing are traditionally divorced — creative writing is seen as undisciplined, personal, and inspiration-driven, while academic writing is strictly organized and analytical — and one field thus may not often see the applicability of useful techniques from the other. Here, then, are some techniques used in the teaching of creative writing that may be applicable to teaching students how to write an academic essay:

Journal writing
What it is: regular writing practice through short prompts/exercises, often ungraded
How it helps: provides a risk-free and unstructured environment for developing and practicing writing strategies/ideas/voice, making writing less intimidating and more of a routine, building self-confidence, and encouraging risk-taking

What it is: a medium after the model of the literary magazine to showcase students’ academic writing
How it helps: gives students the opportunity to share their work with a broader audience and receive feedback from the real world, situate their work in a broader context and give it relevance outside the classroom, increase the stakes of writing, and emulate published work

Connect student writing to professional writing
What it is: a way of reading academic essays (often already part of a class’s coursework) that creates no division between professional work and student work, as there is no division between published novels and the work of novice creative writers, and engages with them through their style as well as their content
How it helps: encourages students to model their writing off of successful professional pieces, learn strategies from them, increase motivation to achieve at a similar caliber, and give their work relevance in a broader discourse

Writers retreat/writers group
What it is: a gathering of writers that meets to talk about the writing process and their own work
How it helps: offers a forum for writers to discuss their work with others, share ideas and techniques, learn from the examples of peer work, gain a feeling of emotional support and solidarity, and generate enthusiasm

What it is: the process of sharing work with peers and receiving feedback
How it helps: allows students to learn from each other’s strengths/weaknesses/techniques, discuss the standards of effective writing with concrete examples, and receive immediate and varied feedback on their work

Further Reading
Alber, Sheila R., Christa M. Martin, and Deidra M. Gammill. “Using the Literary Masters to Inspire Written Expression in Gifted Students.” Gifted Child Today 28.2 (2005): 50-9.
Antoniou, Maria, and Jessica Moriarty. “What can Academic Writers Learn from Creative Writers? Developing Guidance and Support for Lecturers in Higher Education.” Teaching in Higher Education 13.2 (2008): 157-67.
Burniske, R. W. “Creating Dialogue: Teacher Response to Journal Writing.” English Journal 83.4 (1994): 84-7.
Dozier, Lynne, and And Others. “The Three Ps: Prose, Poetry, and Profits.” English Journal 84.7 (1995): 37-42.
Gemmell, Rebecca. “Encouraging Student Voice in Academic Writing.” English Journal 98.2 (2008): 64-8.
Gorrell, Nancy. “Publishing the Poetry Chapbook: Defining a Public Self.” English Journal 82.2 (1993): 42-6.
Hudson, Nancy A. “The Violence of their Lives: The Journal Writing of Two High School Freshmen.” English Journal 84.5 (1995): 65-9.
Kearns, Rosalie Morales. “Voice of Authority: Theorizing Creative Writing Pedagogy.” College Composition and Communication 60.4 (2009): 790-807.
Lardner, Ted. “Locating the Boundaries of Composition and Creative Writing.” College Composition and Communication 51.1 (1999): 72-7.
McGee, Lynn. “Finding the Poet in New Writers.” Journal of Reading 38.6 (1995): 470-74.
Torgovnick, Marianna. “Experimental Critical Writing.” ADE Bulletin.96 (1990): 8-10.
Valdata, Patricia. “Creativity in its most Pure Form.” Diverse: Issues in Higher Education 24.15 (2007): 24.
Wasserstein, Paulette. “I Don’t Know what Happened–Johnny used to Love Writing.” Understanding Our Gifted 13.2 (2001): 13-5.\\