Introduction to Creative Writing is just that: an introduction. If you are interested in writing creatively (e.g. poetry, short fiction, personal essay, etc.) but don’t know where to start, this class provides an overview of classic and contemporary styles, forms, and processes for the inexperienced creative.
As some of you know, I come from a heavy background of writing instruction, which is exactly why I decided not to take this class during my freshman or sophomore years. I believed that since professor permission could be granted to participate in higher level workshops, I would be able to bypass the Creative Writing concentration course requirement altogether given my experience. Alas. Because of this, I experienced this class from a unique angle. I would like to begin by saying that if you have no idea how to start writing, this is the course for you. Brendan selects a great mix of contemporary and classic readings to contextualize the subjects at hand and explains various methods on how to approach unknown genres in great detail.
If you’ve already spent some time in the writing world, it won’t be as useful. During the poetry unit in particular (my area of practice), I found that I had encountered many of the readings already. Even worse, I had done some of the prompts up to three times before throughout my writing career. This refresher felt a lot more like busywork than something to improve my craft. That being said, I think it is the perfect class for beginners. I know this because I absolutely thrived during the creative nonfiction unit. As someone who has spent her entire life doing all she could to avoid writing about reality (curse you Cad for roping me into journalism!), I had really never dabbled in personal essay. I was terrified to write about things that had actually happened—things that could incriminate people (not legitimately—we kept it clean) if I put them together incorrectly. Brendan’s teachings made this process increasingly easier and I saw a noticeable improvement in my nonfiction from the beginning of the unit to the end.
To succeed in Introduction to Creative Writing you really just need to give it your all. Students are graded primarily on participation since this class used to gauge whether or not this is a subject you want to pursue. If at any point you start to struggle, Brendan is the best and gives amazing advice.
If you don’t like sharing work, this is not the class for you. Introduction to Creative Writing relies on participation, so you will be sharing every response to every prompt out loud. Additionally, Brendan dedicates a portion of the semester to two workshops, in which everyone not only types up critiques for their peers, but also shares them (and receives them) in the classroom. Critiques are expected to be polite, but if you aren’t ready to put your work out there, you might want to skip out on this one.
Rating: 7/10. Maybe I’m just biased, but I wish this class had been taught just one notch higher. There wasn’t much rigor and sometimes I felt like I was just doing busywork. Additionally, we were missing a drama unit (stage play and screenplay), which I feel all introductions to writing should cover at least once.
Elise is the Editor in Chief and Director of Creative Publications for The Weekly Cad.