Approaching Art vs. Approaching Academics

As I wrote about previously, I’ve had the fortune of taking part in a little writing workshop, which is ended this week. I’ve come away with a lot of thoughts and feelings, but I want to focus on one for now: the different mindsets with which I approached writing (art) versus how I approached school (academics).

I haven’t been able to take a solely creative writing class yet (though I will be my upcoming, first semester of college) because it was not offered at my high school. As such, this was really my first experience, even if it was a condensed workshop and not for credit. But that was really all for the better.

School and I have a complicated history. I love learning and for the most part, I loved school. I would insist on doing workbooks over the summer in early elementary school, just for fun. But there was also another reason I liked it: I was good at it. Teachers liked me. Everyone said I was smart. It was something to hold on to. But as the years went on, because of this narrative I imagined around myself that I figured others saw, I was afraid of taking risks and making mistakes. I got more and more anxious and upset, my standards for myself rose even higher (I think I only had one or two semester grades that were below 95%…), and I forgot how to enjoy myself. I wanted to know I was doing everything “correctly,” even if that meant typo-checking and adding finishing touches for hours, and ultimately I was much more concerned with the grade than the learning experience. (This is tied to a longstanding battle with perfectionism, as well as OCD which got worse as I neared the end of high school.)

At this point, I’m looking forward to college academics with my same high standards, hoping the greater amount of free time and general atmosphere will allow me to loosen up, especially as I’ll be starting fresh and my friends will be rarely taking the same classes as me. It was with that mindset I went into this writing workshop. I knew some of the others there, and I was nervous about reading aloud and comparing myself to others like I always do. But, surprisingly, I didn’t. Everyone had their own very different projects and interests, and I was actually pleased . The atmosphere wasn’t one of work, but one of artistic inspiration. And I loved it.

I always thought of myself as more of an academic, or at least more of a learner or even communicator, than an artist. But I might be reconsidering that.

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6 thoughts on “Approaching Art vs. Approaching Academics

  1. I have the same feelings as you in regard to writing for leisure verses writing for a grade. I don’t mind writing essays for courses, but it isn’t as fun as creative writing. I was fortunate enough to take a creative writing class back in high school and I enjoyed it. Glad you had a good experience at the workshop.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello. So you’re taking Creative Writing as your major in college? Cool! I mean, I always have wanted to take creative writing, literature, or any bookish classes as a side to my major (I’m studying engineering, by the way). Unfortunately, those classes aren’t offered in my country unless you are studying English education (it means you’re studying to be an English teacher) or literature. I’ve also read your posts about the writing workshops you took. Maybe one day you can write a post about the things you learned from it? It’ll really help all those aspiring writers out there.

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    • Hi, and thank you for finding my blog. I’m on track to do both an English Secondary Education major (part teacher education, part literature) and English with a concentration in creative writing (part writing, part literature, but the literature overlaps with the education major). Someone in the workshop was actually studying engineering, too! I’m sorry your universities don’t let you take courses outside your major (the liberal arts are important!), but the Internet can always be a good resource. The workshop was short and we mostly bounced around ideas, but I would say that I learned the most important dramatic/suspenseful part of the story is the rising action, to give specific and memorable details, and to avoid redundant words or passages. Ultimately, though, I found that creativity flourishes the most (for me at least) when I have others to share my work with and get feedback. With the Internet especially, you potentially have that opportunity. There are a lot of writers on places like Tumblr and Twitter. I’d be happy to suggest some websites or books on writing craft if you would like, though I’m just getting into it myself. There isn’t a “right” way to write, though, so the best advice for starting is just to dive in, follow what you want to write, and read in the genre you’re writing.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, yeah, by the way, I consider myself more of an academic person, too, as I love studying and it is probably the only thing I’m good at besides reading books. But I do love arts and really envy those who can paint or do anything artistic.

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