Creative writing should be considered a fine arts credit

in Opinion by
Ms. Adams urges her students to enter contests and submit to websites, which can result in real-world publications. I wrote my short story, “The Day of the Dog,” in response to a prompt given to me by Ms. Adams, and it was featured on a website as well as discussed at a book club across the country. Creative writing allows creativity to thrive, embodying what it means to be a fine arts class. (Photo/Ella Gohari)

As I stared at the long list of high school electives attached to my course selection sheet, one elective’s class description stood out among the rest: Creative Writing. With my desire to hone writing skills and techniques to transform an  idea to a full-length story, this course seemed perfect for someone like me whose thoughts are constantly filled with new characters, plots and ideas. When I marked it as my number one elective, more important than even Newspaper, I had no idea how amazing the class would be. From learning how to write different types of poetry to writing a full-length ‘choose-your-own adventure’ story to getting three of my pieces published, the semester-long creative writing elective course broadened my horizons and gave me confidence to share my work with the world. 

After taking Creative Writing, I couldn’t wait to take Creative Writing 2 next semester and contacted my counselor to sign me up. She replied with bombshell: despite focusing on creativity, imagination and ingenuity, the creative writing course is not considered a fine arts credit. 

This news derailed my plans; I need a fine arts credit to graduate, and though I am only a freshman, my schedule in the coming years is packed. Due to doubling-up science courses, I solely have room for one elective in the upcoming years, Newspaper. Talking to my counselor about my options, I learned that Playwriting was an option, but it required a prerequisite in Drama. Even though Playwriting and Creative Writing use similar, if not the same, skills (after all, playwriting is a part of creative writing), only one is considered a fine arts credit.

Eventually, my counselor came back to me with the best elective I could hope for given the circumstances: Film as Literature. The course revolves around movies and writing; we watch a movie, then write an essay analyzing some aspect about it. While I enjoyed the class and highly recommend it, it is arguably less creative and more analytical than Creative Writing, since Film and Literature requires students to write specific, topical essays instead of letting their imagination run wild. Film as Literature is considered fine arts, while Creative Writing, which gives students freedom to write about whatever they want, whether it be in poetry, prose or even song form, is labeled as an English course.

Ms. Diana Adams, who teaches Creative Writing, considers fine arts to be “any of the creative disciplines: drawing, painting, sculpting, literature, music, dance, theatre and even architecture.” She continued, “The main lesson I want my students to learn is to write, experiment and be proud of it… my students use their creativity every day, and they create beautiful, inspiring pieces that I consider art.”

At its heart, fine arts is supposed to help students unleash their creativity, and what better way to do that than by taking a course with “creative” in its name? Creative Writing is not really a traditional English course—unlike English class, students don’t analyze literature or study grammar—instead, it is a fine arts course, helping budding writers discover their creative potential. While it is too late for me to take Creative Writing 2, it’s time for administration to recognize Creative Writing as the fine arts course it truly is.

As a sophomore, Ella Gohari is entering her second year on the Patriot Post staff as the co-Editor-in-Chief for the print newsmagazine. A lover of words, Ella spends much of her time writing, whether it be an article, poem, short story or science research paper. She often writes while listening (and singing her heart out) to music, and is particularly fond of rock bands like Metallica, AC/DC and Led Zeppelin. Her ultimate favorite; however, is Queen. Juggling many interests at once, she has been a science researcher with Mrs. Joykutty since 6th grade, and is now a part of the Sigma Xi Science Society. On the weekends, she volunteers with Village Book Builders and OTTER to teach underprivileged children in Florida and around the world. She is excited to co-lead the newsmagazine and can’t wait to see where the year goes.

1 Comment

  1. Hey Ella! Great job with your article! I am really interested in your argument that creative writing should be considered a fine arts elective. As a recent Heritage graduate (Class of 2020), I stumbled upon this debate not too long ago myself. During my time at Heritage, I took Ms. Adams’ Creative Writing 1 and did a one-year stint in Newspaper. Creative writing has always been my passion and it led me to experiment with playwriting as well. Although I never took the playwriting elective offered at Heritage, I did work with the teacher of that class at the time to develop two award winning one act plays that received honors in both the theatrical world (Critics’ Choice at Thespians) as well as the literary realm (National Gold Medal at Scholastic Art and Literary Awards). I even went as far as to write scenes from my plays for Creative Writing 1 which Ms. Adams openly encouraged. At its core, playwriting is just another form of writing. The only difference between the two arts that I have found is the audience. But this difference applies to all forms of writing. There is a very different audience reading poetry than there is reading science fiction novels or horror genre short stories. All art is different, but that doesn’t make writing any less of an art.

    I’m currently attending Chapman University (a four-year university that is not merely an arts school) where I am earning a BACHELOR OF FINE ARTS IN CREATIVE WRITING. Not only is fine arts literally in the title of my degree, my classes span many different mediums of creating including playwriting, screenwriting, novel writing, and writing for graphic novels among many others. The main difference between the BFA and the BA in creative writing is the amount of workshops. For people who are unfamiliar with creative writing, workshops were birthed at the University of Iowa in their Master of Fine Arts (again, another explicit reference to fine arts) curriculum and have since become a common place practice in many creative writing classrooms. Workshops are situations in which a teacher presides over a small group of students who generate original writing pieces. They then share these artistic works with their instructors and peers who provide constructive criticism and feedback for revision. During all stages of the workshop, the students are creating works that are inherently different from typical English assignments. While essays and other literary papers can be creative, they are generally precluded from the field of creative writing. These workshops are bases only on student’s original creations that do not reference other books or sources in the way English papers do. Workshops are also completely different than lectures that allow students to study creative works as done in literature classes. They are all about generating art.

    Anyone who’s familiar with Ms. Adams’ class will recognize the emphasis on workshopping at its core. Students learn about different forms of creative writing by doing it and sharing it with the class in critique sessions. While creative writing classes certainly can belong to the English category as they essentially produce the body of works studied in such classes and includes the generic basis in setting pen to paper, writing is not only an academic activity. Essay writing is not the same as creative writing and the later has just as much basis in the fine arts and it does in English. It cannot be denied that creative writing is artistic expression.

    Hope this bolsters your case for administration! 🙂 I’d love to answer any questions or comments you might have now or in the future. Again, I really enjoyed reading your article! Thanks for expressing your opinions. I appreciate your voice! –Kelly Taylor 😉

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