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Academic Writing and Creative Writing

More Alike Than You Might Think

By Haylee Cannon

When you think of academic writing, what comes to your mind? Thesis statements? Topic sentences? Boring? While most answers could be considered correct, I bet you didn’t jump to the thought of creative writing. But I am here to change your mind.

Few of us think of creative writing and academic writing as similar. However, the two are much more related than initially meets the eye. Academic writing involves entering a conversation and trying to convince the other side that you are correct through specific rhetoric and an intentional argument. You produce good academic writing by creatively coming up with a way to convince your reader that you are correct. This construction requires creativity because writing is a science and an art. Any art form is creative, and academic writing is no exception. Academic writing is creative writing. If I haven’t convinced you yet, let me give you some specific reasons why academic writing should be considered creative.

  1. Academic writing allows us to enter into a greater conversation. It’s true that academic writing is not creative writing in the sense that we get to construct our own story as we please, but academic writing does allow us to construct our own argument and choose a rhetorical style to best demonstrate our point. We get to engage with something greater than ourselves when we write.
  2. Any type of writing is an art form with each sentence being crafted for a specific purpose. Because there is no one way to write, it becomes a creative process of puzzling together your syntax and your argument. English is unique in the way that is does not have one equation to solve to get the correct answer. Rather, it’s a process of explaining something in the most beautiful way possible. Writing is something you craft; no matter what type of writing it is, it’s an art.
  3. You are in complete control of what you say. Any time you have the freedom, the responsibility, to put original thoughts on a paper, it becomes a creative process. Good academic writing is not boring. It’s an opportunity to see your thoughts come to life. If you do it well, it’s something to take great pride in. It becomes a work of art that you created. It’s original to you, and that is something to be proud of.

One of Ouachita’s beloved English professors, Dr. Benjamin Utter, argues for this very concept by stating, “Make no mistake, my friends, academic writing can also be—indeed, must also be—creative writing!”

When we start to think of academic writing as a form of creative writing, the task changes from an obligation to an opportunity. We are now given the chance to completely control our input into a greater conversation in a style that is completely our own. Hopefully, I have changed the way you think about academic writing, and the next time you are given a paper to write, it’s met with just a little more excitement. Let me ask you again. What comes to mind when you think of academic writing?


Haylee Cannon is a junior English education major; in spring 2021, she is available for sessions 7-9 PM on Mondays.


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