Creative Composition – Encouraging Creativity in Composition among Student Writers

Last month we published Creative Composition edited by Danita Berg and Lori A. May. The book attempts to explore how creativity in compositition may be encouraged in student writers. In this post, Danita tells us a bit more about the book.

As teachers of both creative writing and composition, Lori and I turn to different journals in order to consider our approaches in the classroom. For composition we turn to journals such as Research in the Teaching of College English, College Composition and Communication, and College English; for creative writing we turn to Poets & Writers, AWP Chronicle, and New Writing: The International Journal for the Practice and Theory of Creative Writing. In January 2009, College English published a special edition issue that focused on the field of creative writing and creative writing studies; however, such an issue had not been published by the journal since November 2001 and can be considered an aberration, instead of the norm, in the study of the field of English. In fact, separating the study of creative writing into its own “special issue” further showed how English studies have separated the disciplines from one another.

Yet we find that each of the journals speak to each other, as do the theories of writing. While different terms are used—collaboration instead of workshop, craft instead of invention—the journals are still speaking of process. Each of the fields can learn from one another, if steps are taken to conjoin the disciplines.

Creative CompositionWhen Lori and I talked about creating a book that advanced that reconnection between disciplines, we realized that we were not the first in asking for such a teaching text. Theorists such as Wendy Bishop, Janice Lauer, Peter Elbow, and Donald Murray had been discussing those very topics for decades. Yet while steps were taken to talk about how the fields could complement and learn from each other, little was published that allowed the fields to truly reconvene.

Creative Composition: Inspiration and Techniques for Writing Instruction begins that discussion in earnest. The essays provided by top and emerging theorists in the field—among them Graeme Harper, Tim Mayers, Stephanie Vanderslice, and Anna Leahy—are the first steps in allowing these writing processes to learn from and inform each other. We think it is an especially important text in an academic field where instructors and professors are asked to be more generalists than experts in one field, able to teach a wide variety of genres and forms.

Danita Berg is English Department Director at Full Sail University, Orlando, Florida. Her research interests include creative writing studies, women’s voice in writing, and invention. She is also founder and Co-Editor of Animal: A Beast of a Literary Magazine. You can find her blog at www.danitaberg.wordpress.com.

Lori A. May is a writing mentor at University of King’s College, Halifax, Nova Scotia. She is Founding Editor of Poets’ Quarterly (www.poetsquarterly.com), and her other books include The Write Crowd: Literary Citizenship & the Writing Life (Bloomsbury, 2014) and The Low-Residency MFA Handbook: A Guide for Prospective Creative Writing Students (Continuum, 2011). Her website is www.loriamay.com.

For more information about the book see our website. You can also browse other books in the New Writing Viewpoints series.

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