Being a freshman thrown into an enormous university in an unfamiliar town is nerve-wracking. Being a freshman, unsure of your major, and sitting in your first day of a creative writing class tips the anxiety scale against your favor. It was easy to sit next to a random guy with blonde hair who was chatting with the two girls next to him. It seemed a lot of people knew one another already—great.
The walls in the room were a soothing light blue, but the carpet was a mess of color and weird shapes; whoever designed the room clearly did not have interest in appeasing the students who would later spend hours there. The windows were a nice addition because classroom lighting is usually dull and sad. The natural daylight was hopeful.
All of the creative writing classes I have been in are “workshop” courses. They are either the most exciting or most invasive thing the students in the class have ever done. When your sign-up week arrives, you submit enough copies of your work to accommodate the entire class and the professor. In turn, they come to class the next week with feedback—both positive and negative—in order to try and make your work the best that it can be. Students vocalize the things they loved and their ideas for revision. If you can accept the fact that your work is not perfect and that this process is used to support growth, the experience can be truly exciting.
I remember one of the first class sessions; my fiction professor wore a dress covered in multi-colored cartoon kittens. She made jokes about being a cat lady and was clearly passionate about creative work. My second semester in a creative writing class, poetry, the professor was tall. He had us read an extensive range of poetry and opened my mind to a different kind of art. I had always enjoyed writing poetry but had never studied it. This class opened my mind to changing the way I wrote poetry and most importantly, it broadened my horizons as a writer. My third creative writing professor was frazzled in the best way possible. She made us scream in class and showed us nonfiction pieces that not many people get to experience. She taught me a form of writing that I once believed was boring and just a reiteration of historical events. All of these teachers lit a desire within me.
I want to promote these classes to anyone and everyone. It does not matter if you are a biochemistry, civil engineering, or criminal justice major. If anything, these creative writing courses give students a chance to use a different part of their brain than those bent on memorizing theories, equations, and other complicated studies. More than anything, writing expands your mind and can teach you things about yourself you would not learn in any other classroom setting. By writing about fictional characters, crafting persona poems, or writing things you have never thought possible before, you get to know yourself in a different way. You begin to know who you are as opposed to the you who everyone else knows.