Creative Writing: What It Is and Why It Matters

By: Author Paul Jenkins

Posted on Published: January 13, 2023  - Last updated: January 15, 2023

Categories Writing

Writing can be intimidating for many people, but creative writing doesn’t have to be. Creative writing is a form of self-expression that allows writers to create stories, characters, and unique settings. But what exactly is creative writing? And why is it important in today’s society? Let’s explore this further.

How We Define Creative Writing

Creative writing is any form where writers can express their thoughts and feelings imaginatively. This type of writing allows authors to draw on their imagination when creating stories and characters and play with language and structure. While there are no boundaries in creative writing, most pieces will contain dialogue, description, and narrative elements.

The Importance of Creative Writing

Creative writing is important because:

  • It helps us express ourselves in ways we may not be able to do with other forms of communication.
  • It allows us to explore our creativity and think outside the box.
  • It can help us better understand our emotions by exploring them through storytelling or poetry.
  • Writing creatively can also provide much-needed escapism from everyday life, allowing us to escape into a world of our creation.
  • Creative writing helps us connect with others by sharing our experiences through stories or poems they can relate to. This way, we can gain insight into other people’s lives while giving them insight into ours.

Creative Writing: A Path to Mental and Emotional Wellness

Writing is more than just a way to express your thoughts on paper. It’s a powerful tool that can be used as a form of therapy. Creative writing has been shown to improve emotional and mental well-being.

Through creative writing, we can gain insight into our emotions, develop self-expression and communication skills, cultivate empathy and understanding of others, and boost our imagination and creativity.

Let’s examine how creative writing can relieve stress and emotional catharsis.

Stress Relief and Emotional Catharsis

Writing has the power to reduce stress levels significantly. Writing about our experiences or about things that are causing us anxiety or distress helps us to release those complicated feelings constructively. By expressing ourselves through creative writing, we can work through the emotions associated with stressful situations without having to confront them directly.

This is especially helpful for people who struggle to share their emotions verbally or in person.

Improved Communication and Self-Expression

Creative writing is also beneficial for improving communication skills. Through creative writing, we can explore our thoughts and feelings more intensely than by speaking them aloud. This allows us to think more clearly about what we want to say before actually saying it out loud or in written form, which leads to improved self-expression overall.

Additionally, writing out our thoughts before speaking aloud allows us to articulate ourselves better when communicating with others—which is essential for healthy personal and professional relationships.

Increased Empathy and Understanding of Others

Through creative writing, we can also increase our empathy towards others by exploring different perspectives on various topics that may be unfamiliar or uncomfortable for us—such as racism, homophobia, sexism, etc.—and allowing ourselves the opportunity to see the situation from someone else’s point of view without judgment or bias. This helps us become better communicators and more understanding individuals overall.

The Professional Benefits of Creative Writing

Creative writing is a powerful tool that can help you communicate better and more effectively in the professional world. It can also help you develop various skills that prove invaluable in many industries. Whether you’re looking to build your résumé or improve your communication, creative writing can effectively achieve both.

Let’s take a closer look at how creative writing can benefit your career.

Preparing Students for Careers in Writing, Editing, and Publishing

Creative writing is the perfect foundation for anyone interested in pursuing a career in writing, editing, or publishing. It teaches students the basics of grammar and composition while allowing them to express their ideas in imaginative ways.

Creative writing classes also allow students to learn from professionals who have experience as editors, agents, and publishers. They can use this knowledge to learn creative writing, refine their craft and gain valuable experience before entering the job market.

Improving Skills in Storytelling and Marketing for Various Careers

Creative writing teaches students to think critically about stories and craft compelling narratives that draw readers in. This skill is precious for those who wish to pursue careers outside traditional writing roles—such as marketing or advertising—where storytelling is key.

People who understand the fundamentals of creative writing will be able to create persuasive copy that resonates with readers and effectively conveys a message.

Enhancing Team Collaboration and Leadership Skills

Creative writing isn’t just about expressing yourself through words; it also provides an opportunity to practice working collaboratively with others on projects. Many creative writing classes require students to work together on group projects, which helps them develop essential teamwork skills such as communication, critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity.

As they work together on these projects, they will also gain confidence in their ability to lead teams effectively—an invaluable asset no matter what industry they pursue after graduation.

Uncovering the Power of Creative Writing

Creative writing has become an increasingly powerful force in shaping our society. Creative writing has many uses, from preserving cultural heritage to promoting social change.

Preserving Cultural Heritage with Creative Writing

Creative writing has long been used to preserve and share cultural heritage stories. This is done through fictional stories or poetry that explore a particular culture or group’s history, values, and beliefs. By weaving these stories in an engaging way, writers can bring a culture’s history and traditions to life for readers worldwide. This helps bridge cultural gaps by providing insight into what makes each culture unique.

Promoting Social Change & Activism with Creative Writing

Creative writing can also be used for activism and social change. Writers can craft stories that help promote awareness about important issues such as poverty, race relations, gender equality, climate change, and more.

With the power of words, writers can inspire readers to take action on these issues and work towards creating positive change in their communities.

Through creative writing, writers can raise awareness about important topics while fostering empathy toward individuals who may be facing difficult or challenging situations.

Fostering Creativity & Innovation with Creative Writing

Finally, creative writing can foster creativity and innovation in various fields. For example, businesses can use creative copywriting techniques to create compelling content that captures the attention of customers or potential investors.

Aspiring entrepreneurs can use storytelling techniques when pitching their ideas or products to potential partners or investors to make their cases more persuasive and memorable.

By harnessing the power of words through creative writing techniques, businesses can create content that resonates with their target audience while inspiring them to take action on whatever message they’re trying to convey. It often aids the overall creative process.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of creative writing.

Creative writing has many benefits, both for the writer and the reader. For the writer, it can be therapeutic, helping them to explore their emotions and better understand themselves. It can also be used as entertainment or communication, allowing them to share their ideas with the world. For the reader, creative writing can provide enjoyment, escapism, and insights into the human condition.

How can I improve my creative writing skills?

There are several ways you can improve your creative writing skills. Firstly, make sure you allow yourself time to write regularly. Use a writing prompt to inspire a short story. Secondly, read as much as you can; great writers are also great readers. Thirdly, experiment with different styles and genres to find one that suits you best. Fourthly, join a writers’ group, writing workshop, or creative writing program to get feedback from other writers. Finally, keep a journal to track your progress and reflect on your work as a creative writer.

What is the importance of imagery in creative writing?

Imagery is an important element of creative writing, as it helps to create a more vivid picture for the reader. By using sensory and descriptive language, writers can transport readers into their stories and help them relate to their characters or themes. Imagery can bring a scene alive with detail and evoke emotion by helping readers create strong visual images in their minds. Furthermore, imagery can help make stories more memorable by giving readers a deeper connection with the characters or setting.

What are the elements of creative writing?

The elements of creative writing include plot, character, dialogue, setting, theme, and point of view. The plot is the structure or main storyline, while the character is the personage involved in this story. Dialogue includes conversations between characters to give insight into their emotions and relationships. Setting refers to the place or time in which a story takes place, while theme explores deeper meanings behind a story’s narrative. Finally, point of view defines how readers experience a story through first-person or third-person omniscient narration.

What’s the difference between creative writing and other types of writing?

The main difference between creative writing and other types of writing is that it allows the writer to create their own story, characters, settings, and themes. Creative writing also encourages writers to be inventive with their style and use descriptive language to evoke emotion or bring stories alive in readers’ minds. Other academic or technical writing types typically involve more research-based information and are usually more objective in their presentation. Additionally, most forms of non-creative writing will have stricter rules regarding grammar, structure, and syntax.

What is the golden rule of creative writing?

The golden rule of creative writing is to show, not tell. It’s the core creative writing skill. When it comes to creative writing, it’s essential to use descriptive language that immerses readers in the story and allows them to experience the events through their emotions and imaginations. This can be done through metaphors, similes, sensory language, and vivid imagery.

How important is creativity in writing?

Creativity is essential in writing as it allows writers to craft a unique story and evoke emotion from the reader. Creativity can bring stories alive with fresh perspectives and exciting plot lines while creating an escape for readers and giving them more profound insights into the human condition. Writers who combine creativity with technical aspects such as grammar, structure, language usage, and flow will create pieces that capture their audience’s attention and provide an enjoyable reading experience.

Why learn creative writing? Truthfully, creative writing is one of the most misunderstood disciplines in the 21st century. When people think of a creative writing course, they often imagine a group of lofty, out-of-touch people who wear argyle sweater vests and have unproductive conversations about abstract concepts.

In reality, nothing could be further from the truth: the best writing classes remain engaged with the real world, and the skills gained in a creative writing course apply to nearly every facet of daily life.

If you’re wondering whether it’s worth picking up a course in fiction, nonfiction, or poetry, we have five reasons to learn creative writing. But first, let’s talk about what actually happens in a creative writing course.

The Basics of a Writing Workshop

Whether you’re enrolled in a poetry, fiction, or nonfiction writing class, you can expect the following writing process – at least in a quality writing course like the ones at

  • Weekly prompts and writing exercises to sharpen the precision and necessity of each word you use.
  • Constructive critiques from a community of writers who are each growing their writing skills alongside you.
  • A creative space to explore new ideas, experiment with language, and arrange words in new and exciting ways.
  • Focused writing instruction from a master of the craft.

The benefits of creative writing come from engaging with the course material, the writing prompts, and the other class members. These elements help you become a better writer, both in creative realms and in everyday life. How? No matter what form of writing, a creative writing class pushes you to connect ideas and create effective narratives using the best words – and that skill translates into real world success.

The Benefits of Creative Writing

1. why learn creative writing: improved self-expression.

Improving your writing skills leads to stronger communication. When you practice finding the right word in a story or poem, you engage the same parts of your brain that are active in everyday writing and speaking. A creative writing course subconsciously turns you into a more effective communicator.

The importance of precise language and self-advocacy translates well into both interpersonal relationships and working environments. Take it from this expert on how writing and self-advocacy results in career and leadership success.

2. Why Learn Creative Writing: Job Success

This brings us to our next point: great writing leads to job success. Of course, your boss probably isn’t expecting you to write emails in the form of a short story or a sonnet – though if they are expecting this, you have a pretty cool boss.

In reality, almost every job requires some sort of written work, whether that’s simple written communication or something more elaborate, like publishing data or marketing materials. In a creative writing class, you practice the style and grammar rules necessary for effective writing, both within the realms of literature and in career-related writing. Sharpening your writing and creativity skills might just land you your next promotion.

3. Why Learn Creative Writing: Improved Thinking Skills

Strong writing leads to strong thinking. No matter what type of writing you pursue, learning how to write is another form of learning how to think.

That might seem like a bold claim, so think about it this way. Without language, our thoughts wouldn’t have form. We might not need language to think “I’m hungry” or “I like cats,” but when it comes to more abstract concepts, language is key. How would you think about things like justice, revenge, or equality without the words to express them?

When you hone in on your ability to find choice, specific words, and when you work on the skills of effective storytelling and rhetoric , you improve your ability to think in general. Good writing yields great thinking!

4. Why Learn Creative Writing: Empathy

Reading and writing both rely on empathy, especially when it comes to being an effective workshop participant. When we read and write stories, we situate ourselves in the shoes of other people; when we read and write poetry, we let language navigate us through emotion.

The importance of creative writing relies on empathy. We practice empathy whenever we listen to another person’s life story, when someone tells us about their day, and when we sit down with a client or work partner. When we write, we practice the ability to listen as well as to speak, making us more effective communicators and more compassionate human beings.

5. Why Learn Creative Writing: It’s Fun!

In case you’re not convinced that a writing course is right for you, let’s clarify one more fact: creative writing is fun. Whether you’re in a fiction writing course, starting a memoir, crafting a poem, or writing for the silver screen, you’re creating new worlds and characters. In the sandbox of literature, you’re in control, and when you invest yourself into the craft of writing, something beautiful emerges.

The Importance of Creative Writing

Simply put, creative writing helps us preserve our humanity. What better medium to explore the human experience?

To learn creative writing, like any art form, requires compassion, contemplation, and curiosity. Writers preserve the world as they observe it in stories and poetry, and they imagine a better world by creating it in their works.

Through the decades, literature has explored society’s profound changes. Literary eons like the Naturalist movement and the Beat poets responded to the increase in Western Industrialization. Confessional poets like Virginia Woolf helped transform poetry into a medium for emotional exploration and excavation. And, genre movements like the cyberpunk writers of science fiction helped popularize the idea of an “information economy.”

Thus, the importance of creative writing lies in its ability to describe the world through an honest and unfiltered lens. Anyone who engages in creative writing, no matter the genre or style, helps us explore the human experience, share new ideas, and advocate for a better society. Whether you write your stories for yourself or share them with a wide audience, creative writing makes the world a better place.

Jobs for Creative Writers

Because creative writing isn’t a STEM discipline, many people don’t think that learning it will help their job prospects. Why learn creative writing if it doesn’t make any money?

In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Creative writing skills are much sought after on resumes, since both creativity and the ability to write are soft skills in decline. Additionally, if you’re considering a career change—or ready to start one!—these are some popular jobs for creative writers.

  • Average Starting Salary: $51,000
  • Demand: High
  • Skills needed: creativity, grammar, timeliness

Copywriters help companies put their branding into words. A copywriter might write emails, blogs, website content, or ad copy that encompasses the company’s voice and purpose. Copywriting requires you to write in a mix of styles and forms, flexing your writing muscles in new and exciting ways.

Grant Writer

  • Average Starting Salary: $50,000
  • Skills needed: storytelling, research, argumentation

Nonprofits and research facilities rely on local and national grants to fund their projects. Grant writers help secure that funding, writing engaging grants that tell the organization’s story in an engaging, tailored, and convincing way. Creative writers will enjoy the opportunity to tell a meaningful story and create positive community change through this career.

Communications/Public Relations Specialist

  • Skills needed: creativity, communications, social media

A communications specialist helps drive a company’s image through various social channels. They may help create a positive narrative for their company through blogs, journalist outreach, social media, and other public-facing avenues. Much like copywriting, a PR specialist helps weave an effective story for a company.

  • Average Starting Salary: $55,000
  • Demand: Medium/High
  • Skills needed: creativity, storytelling, organization, self-reliance

The dream job for many writers is to write and sell books. Being a novelist is an admirable career choice—and also requires the most work. Not only do you have to write your stories, but you also have to market yourself in the literary industry and maintain a social presence so that publishers and readers actually read your work. It’s a tough business, but also incredibly rewarding!

Reasons to Learn Creative Writing: Finding a Writing Community

Finally, creative writing communities make the writing struggle worth it. The relationships you foster with other creative writers can last a lifetime, as no other group of people has the same appreciation for the written word. Creative writing communities create transformative experiences and encourage growth in your writing; if there’s one reason to study creative writing craft, it’s the friendships you make in the process.

You don’t need a class to start writing, but it’s never a waste of time to learn the tools of the trade. Creative writing requires the skills that can help you in everyday life, and a creative writing course can help.

At, we believe that creative writing can transform both individual lives and the world at large. See the importance of creative writing for yourself: check out what makes our creative writing courses different , then take a look at our upcoming course calendar today.

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Sean Glatch

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Would like to apply for a course to write a novel.

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I’d be happy to help! Please email [email protected] with any questions, and we’ll find the right course for your writing.

[…] Sean. “Why Learn Creative Writing.” June 7, 2020. . Accessed November 7, […]

[…] And last of all it’s fun! I hope to live my life doing the things I love, with like-minded creative people who I love. I have many exciting things upcoming as I continue with the process of completing my first novel, Les Année Folles, such as publishing to my first magazine, journal, and working on the millions of short story ideas I have stored in my head. Stay tuned! References: Glatch, S. (2020, June 7). WHY LEARN CREATIVE WRITING? Retrieved from […]

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Creative Primer

What is Creative Writing? A Key Piece of the Writer’s Toolbox

Brooks Manley

Not all writing is the same and there’s a type of writing that has the ability to transport, teach, and inspire others like no other.

Creative writing stands out due to its unique approach and focus on imagination. Here’s how to get started and grow as you explore the broad and beautiful world of creative writing!

What is Creative Writing?

Creative writing is a form of writing that extends beyond the bounds of regular professional, journalistic, academic, or technical forms of literature. It is characterized by its emphasis on narrative craft, character development, and the use of literary tropes or poetic techniques to express ideas in an original and imaginative way.

Creative writing can take on various forms such as:

  • short stories
  • screenplays

It’s a way for writers to express their thoughts, feelings, and ideas in a creative, often symbolic, way . It’s about using the power of words to transport readers into a world created by the writer.

5 Key Characteristics of Creative Writing

Creative writing is marked by several defining characteristics, each working to create a distinct form of expression:

1. Imagination and Creativity: Creative writing is all about harnessing your creativity and imagination to create an engaging and compelling piece of work. It allows writers to explore different scenarios, characters, and worlds that may not exist in reality.

2. Emotional Engagement: Creative writing often evokes strong emotions in the reader. It aims to make the reader feel something — whether it’s happiness, sorrow, excitement, or fear.

3. Originality: Creative writing values originality. It’s about presenting familiar things in new ways or exploring ideas that are less conventional.

4. Use of Literary Devices: Creative writing frequently employs literary devices such as metaphors, similes, personification, and others to enrich the text and convey meanings in a more subtle, layered manner.

5. Focus on Aesthetics: The beauty of language and the way words flow together is important in creative writing. The aim is to create a piece that’s not just interesting to read, but also beautiful to hear when read aloud.

Remember, creative writing is not just about producing a work of art. It’s also a means of self-expression and a way to share your perspective with the world. Whether you’re considering it as a hobby or contemplating a career in it, understanding the nature and characteristics of creative writing can help you hone your skills and create more engaging pieces .

For more insights into creative writing, check out our articles on creative writing jobs and what you can do with a creative writing degree and is a degree in creative writing worth it .

Styles of Creative Writing

To fully understand creative writing , you must be aware of the various styles involved. Creative writing explores a multitude of genres, each with its own unique characteristics and techniques.

Poetry is a form of creative writing that uses expressive language to evoke emotions and ideas. Poets often employ rhythm, rhyme, and other poetic devices to create pieces that are deeply personal and impactful. Poems can vary greatly in length, style, and subject matter, making this a versatile and dynamic form of creative writing.

Short Stories

Short stories are another common style of creative writing. These are brief narratives that typically revolve around a single event or idea. Despite their length, short stories can provide a powerful punch, using precise language and tight narrative structures to convey a complete story in a limited space.

Novels represent a longer form of narrative creative writing. They usually involve complex plots, multiple characters, and various themes. Writing a novel requires a significant investment of time and effort; however, the result can be a rich and immersive reading experience.


Screenplays are written works intended for the screen, be it television, film, or online platforms. They require a specific format, incorporating dialogue and visual descriptions to guide the production process. Screenwriters must also consider the practical aspects of filmmaking, making this an intricate and specialized form of creative writing.

If you’re interested in this style, understanding creative writing jobs and what you can do with a creative writing degree can provide useful insights.

Writing for the theater is another specialized form of creative writing. Plays, like screenplays, combine dialogue and action, but they also require an understanding of the unique dynamics of the theatrical stage. Playwrights must think about the live audience and the physical space of the theater when crafting their works.

Each of these styles offers unique opportunities for creativity and expression. Whether you’re drawn to the concise power of poetry, the detailed storytelling of novels, or the visual language of screenplays and plays, there’s a form of creative writing that will suit your artistic voice. The key is to explore, experiment, and find the style that resonates with you.

For those looking to spark their creativity, our article on creative writing prompts offers a wealth of ideas to get you started.

Importance of Creative Writing

Understanding what is creative writing involves recognizing its value and significance. Engaging in creative writing can provide numerous benefits – let’s take a closer look.

Developing Creativity and Imagination

Creative writing serves as a fertile ground for nurturing creativity and imagination. It encourages you to think outside the box, explore different perspectives, and create unique and original content. This leads to improved problem-solving skills and a broader worldview , both of which can be beneficial in various aspects of life.

Through creative writing, one can build entire worlds, create characters, and weave complex narratives, all of which are products of a creative mind and vivid imagination. This can be especially beneficial for those seeking creative writing jobs and what you can do with a creative writing degree .

Enhancing Communication Skills

Creative writing can also play a crucial role in honing communication skills. It demands clarity, precision, and a strong command of language. This helps to improve your vocabulary, grammar, and syntax, making it easier to express thoughts and ideas effectively .

Moreover, creative writing encourages empathy as you often need to portray a variety of characters from different backgrounds and perspectives. This leads to a better understanding of people and improved interpersonal communication skills.

Exploring Emotions and Ideas

One of the most profound aspects of creative writing is its ability to provide a safe space for exploring emotions and ideas. It serves as an outlet for thoughts and feelings , allowing you to express yourself in ways that might not be possible in everyday conversation.

Writing can be therapeutic, helping you process complex emotions, navigate difficult life events, and gain insight into your own experiences and perceptions. It can also be a means of self-discovery , helping you to understand yourself and the world around you better.

So, whether you’re a seasoned writer or just starting out, the benefits of creative writing are vast and varied. For those interested in developing their creative writing skills, check out our articles on creative writing prompts and how to teach creative writing . If you’re considering a career in this field, you might find our article on is a degree in creative writing worth it helpful.

4 Steps to Start Creative Writing

Creative writing can seem daunting to beginners, but with the right approach, anyone can start their journey into this creative field. Here are some steps to help you start creative writing .

1. Finding Inspiration

The first step in creative writing is finding inspiration . Inspiration can come from anywhere and anything. Observe the world around you, listen to conversations, explore different cultures, and delve into various topics of interest.

Reading widely can also be a significant source of inspiration. Read different types of books, articles, and blogs. Discover what resonates with you and sparks your imagination.

For structured creative prompts, visit our list of creative writing prompts to get your creative juices flowing.

Editor’s Note : When something excites or interests you, stop and take note – it could be the inspiration for your next creative writing piece.

2. Planning Your Piece

Once you have an idea, the next step is to plan your piece . Start by outlining:

  • the main points

Remember, this can serve as a roadmap to guide your writing process. A plan doesn’t have to be rigid. It’s a flexible guideline that can be adjusted as you delve deeper into your writing. The primary purpose is to provide direction and prevent writer’s block.

3. Writing Your First Draft

After planning your piece, you can start writing your first draft . This is where you give life to your ideas and breathe life into your characters.

Don’t worry about making it perfect in the first go. The first draft is about getting your ideas down on paper . You can always refine and polish your work later. And if you don’t have a great place to write that first draft, consider a journal for writing .

4. Editing and Revising Your Work

The final step in the creative writing process is editing and revising your work . This is where you fine-tune your piece, correct grammatical errors, and improve sentence structure and flow.

Editing is also an opportunity to enhance your storytelling . You can add more descriptive details, develop your characters further, and make sure your plot is engaging and coherent.

Remember, writing is a craft that improves with practice . Don’t be discouraged if your first few pieces don’t meet your expectations. Keep writing, keep learning, and most importantly, enjoy the creative process.

For more insights on creative writing, check out our articles on how to teach creative writing or creative writing activities for kids.

Tips to Improve Creative Writing Skills

Understanding what is creative writing is the first step. But how can one improve their creative writing skills? Here are some tips that can help.

Read Widely

Reading is a vital part of becoming a better writer. By immersing oneself in a variety of genres, styles, and authors, one can gain a richer understanding of language and storytelling techniques . Different authors have unique voices and methods of telling stories, which can serve as inspiration for your own work. So, read widely and frequently!

Practice Regularly

Like any skill, creative writing improves with practice. Consistently writing — whether it be daily, weekly, or monthly — helps develop your writing style and voice . Using creative writing prompts can be a fun way to stimulate your imagination and get the words flowing.

Attend Writing Workshops and Courses

Formal education such as workshops and courses can offer structured learning and expert guidance. These can provide invaluable insights into the world of creative writing, from understanding plot development to character creation. If you’re wondering is a degree in creative writing worth it, these classes can also give you a taste of what studying creative writing at a higher level might look like .

Joining Writing Groups and Communities

Being part of a writing community can provide motivation, constructive feedback, and a sense of camaraderie. These groups often hold regular meetings where members share their work and give each other feedback. Plus, it’s a great way to connect with others who share your passion for writing.

Seeking Feedback on Your Work

Feedback is a crucial part of improving as a writer. It offers a fresh perspective on your work, highlighting areas of strength and opportunities for improvement. Whether it’s from a writing group, a mentor, or even friends and family, constructive criticism can help refine your writing .

Start Creative Writing Today!

Remember, becoming a proficient writer takes time and patience. So, don’t be discouraged by initial challenges. Keep writing, keep learning, and most importantly, keep enjoying the process. Who knows, your passion for creative writing might even lead to creative writing jobs and what you can do with a creative writing degree .

Happy writing!

Brooks Manley

Brooks Manley

discuss the importance of language in creative writing

Creative Primer  is a resource on all things journaling, creativity, and productivity. We’ll help you produce better ideas, get more done, and live a more effective life.

My name is Brooks. I do a ton of journaling, like to think I’m a creative (jury’s out), and spend a lot of time thinking about productivity. I hope these resources and product recommendations serve you well. Reach out if you ever want to chat or let me know about a journal I need to check out!

Here’s my favorite journal for 2024: 

the five minute journal

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Elements of Creative Writing

discuss the importance of language in creative writing

J.D. Schraffenberger, University of Northern Iowa

Rachel Morgan, University of Northern Iowa

Grant Tracey, University of Northern Iowa

Copyright Year: 2023

ISBN 13: 9780915996179

Publisher: University of Northern Iowa

Language: English

Formats Available

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Reviewed by Robert Moreira, Lecturer III, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley on 3/21/24

Unlike Starkey's CREATIVE WRITING: FOUR GENRES IN BRIEF, this textbook does not include a section on drama. read more

Comprehensiveness rating: 4 see less

Unlike Starkey's CREATIVE WRITING: FOUR GENRES IN BRIEF, this textbook does not include a section on drama.

Content Accuracy rating: 5

As far as I can tell, content is accurate, error free and unbiased.

Relevance/Longevity rating: 5

The book is relevant and up-to-date.

Clarity rating: 5

The text is clear and easy to understand.

Consistency rating: 5

I would agree that the text is consistent in terms of terminology and framework.

Modularity rating: 5

Text is modular, yes, but I would like to see the addition of a section on dramatic writing.

Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 5

Topics are presented in logical, clear fashion.

Interface rating: 5

Navigation is good.

Grammatical Errors rating: 5

No grammatical issues that I could see.

Cultural Relevance rating: 3

I'd like to see more diverse creative writing examples.

As I stated above, textbook is good except that it does not include a section on dramatic writing.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Chapter One: One Great Way to Write a Short Story
  • Chapter Two: Plotting
  • Chapter Three: Counterpointed Plotting
  • Chapter Four: Show and Tell
  • Chapter Five: Characterization and Method Writing
  • Chapter Six: Character and Dialouge
  • Chapter Seven: Setting, Stillness, and Voice
  • Chapter Eight: Point of View
  • Chapter Nine: Learning the Unwritten Rules
  • Chapter One: A Poetry State of Mind
  • Chapter Two: The Architecture of a Poem
  • Chapter Three: Sound
  • Chapter Four: Inspiration and Risk
  • Chapter Five: Endings and Beginnings
  • Chapter Six: Figurative Language
  • Chapter Seven: Forms, Forms, Forms
  • Chapter Eight: Go to the Image
  • Chapter Nine: The Difficult Simplicity of Short Poems and Killing Darlings

Creative Nonfiction

  • Chapter One: Creative Nonfiction and the Essay
  • Chapter Two: Truth and Memory, Truth in Memory
  • Chapter Three: Research and History
  • Chapter Four: Writing Environments
  • Chapter Five: Notes on Style
  • Chapter Seven: Imagery and the Senses
  • Chapter Eight: Writing the Body
  • Chapter Nine: Forms

Back Matter

  • Contributors
  • North American Review Staff

Ancillary Material

  • University of Northern Iowa

About the Book

This free and open access textbook introduces new writers to some basic elements of the craft of creative writing in the genres of fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. The authors—Rachel Morgan, Jeremy Schraffenberger, and Grant Tracey—are editors of the North American Review, the oldest and one of the most well-regarded literary magazines in the United States. They’ve selected nearly all of the readings and examples (more than 60) from writing that has appeared in NAR pages over the years. Because they had a hand in publishing these pieces originally, their perspective as editors permeates this book. As such, they hope that even seasoned writers might gain insight into the aesthetics of the magazine as they analyze and discuss some reasons this work is so remarkable—and therefore teachable. This project was supported by NAR staff and funded via the UNI Textbook Equity Mini-Grant Program.

About the Contributors

J.D. Schraffenberger  is a professor of English at the University of Northern Iowa. He is the author of two books of poems,  Saint Joe's Passion  and  The Waxen Poor , and co-author with Martín Espada and Lauren Schmidt of  The Necessary Poetics of Atheism . His other work has appeared in  Best of Brevity ,  Best Creative Nonfiction ,  Notre Dame Review ,  Poetry East ,  Prairie Schooner , and elsewhere.

Rachel Morgan   is an instructor of English at the University of Northern Iowa. She is the author of the chapbook  Honey & Blood , Blood & Honey . Her work is included in the anthology  Fracture: Essays, Poems, and Stories on Fracking in American  and has appeared in the  Journal of American Medical Association ,  Boulevard ,  Prairie Schooner , and elsewhere.

Grant Tracey   author of three novels in the Hayden Fuller Mysteries ; the chapbook  Winsome  featuring cab driver Eddie Sands; and the story collection  Final Stanzas , is fiction editor of the  North American Review  and an English professor at the University of Northern Iowa, where he teaches film, modern drama, and creative writing. Nominated four times for a Pushcart Prize, he has published nearly fifty short stories and three previous collections. He has acted in over forty community theater productions and has published critical work on Samuel Fuller and James Cagney. He lives in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

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  • Published: 24 August 2014

Multilingualism, language policy and creative writing in Kenya

  • Esther K Mbithi 1  

Multilingual Education volume  4 , Article number:  19 ( 2014 ) Cite this article

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Language use and creative writing go hand in hand. In the process of exploring language, we also engage in the study of literature. An engagement with literature is, indeed, a continuing process of improving our capacity to use language and refining our sensibility to good language use. In Kenya, there are clearly discernible patterns of creative writing which may be linked to language policies. In this article we trace language policies in Kenya's formal education sector since 1963, drawing parallels between the prevailing policies and the patterns of creative writing. In the first instance it is an overview of literary output in Kenya since 1963. In the process, however, we shall engage in literary appreciation of selected pieces. Our discussion includes creative writing produced locally in English by writers for whom English would not be considered their mother tongue, as well as creative writing in the local languages. The issue of multilingualism and translation is central to our literary appreciation; whether translation is a subconscious activity during the writing process, or is formally undertaken by a different person after the work has been published, or is in the minds of those reading the work.


The word literature can be used to denote:

All that is written (including instruction manuals), or

All artistic creations made up of words (including oral presentations).

For this article, we shall restrict ourselves to the point of intersection: works of art that are in writing.

In appreciating selected local literary pieces, we celebrate Kenya's linguistic and cultural diversity. It has been postulated that the writing and study of literature not only sharpens our linguistic capabilities, but also makes us more tolerant, more resilient, more flexible, and more analytic. This article anticipates that the new constitutional dispensation in Kenya will require a comprehensive and inclusive language policy. In particular, it is hoped that the various county governments will take up the challenge of investing in Kenya's local languages.

Creative writing before independence

In the political entity we know as Kenya today, there are more than forty culturally diverse groups of people, each with its own language. Kiswahili is the national language. Both English and Kiswahili are official languages, but English is the medium of instruction in Kenyan educational institutions. The natural consequence of this is that any Kenyan who has been exposed to the formal education system has also been exposed to English. It follows, therefore, that creative writers who write in English have (potentially) the whole of Kenya for an audience. Not surprisingly, most literary output in Kenya is in English (see Table 1 ).

Interestingly, some creative works were published in Kiswahili before 1963 (see Table 1 : this Table includes all the fictional works on record for the years indicated). The most probable reason for this would be that not many Kenyans had prolonged contact with the formal education system. Creative writers, therefore, expressed themselves in the language that would be understood by the majority: Kiswahili. Furthermore, as Mbaabu ([ 1987 ]) has pointed out, Kiswahili had been encouraged by the colonial administration alongside English prior to 1953. In 1953, it was banned in favour of the mother tongue languages.

Text s produced in Kiswahili in the 1950s continue to be widely read. Some are even integrated into the school curriculum as class readers or prescribed fasihi (literature) texts. The play Nakupenda Lakini ( I love you, but… ) is one such text. Nakupenda Lakini is a little book with the simple story line of a detective story. The plot is similar to the real life story of one of Kenya's most wanted criminals, Rasta. When Rasta was gunned down in Ongata Rongai, Kajiado district, Kenya, members of his family claimed he was innocent. To this day, Rasta's widow maintains that she is unable to reconcile the character of the man she lived with with that of the "most wanted" criminal the police gunned down.

In addition to Kiswahili, there were texts in the indigenous languages. The fact that these texts continued to circulate after 1963 is an indication of their instructive value. One such text is Nthũ va yek'wa tivo ĩvalũkaa ( Phlegm does not land where it has been thrown ). The literal translation may be misleading, but the little book has a profound moral lesson: jealousy hurts only the person who is jealous. The plot in Nthũ va yek'wa tivo ĩvalũkaa is similar to that of Cinderella, revolving around the misfortunes of a girl orphan who eventually succeeds and attains happiness in spite of the odds. This is a plot that recurs in numerous stories recorded in oral literature texts.

Misguided language policy at independence

Such books seem to have become scarce after independence. Kenya attained political independence from Britain in 1963. The months preceding this historic event were spent in frantic preparation. Political parties were set up. Party manifestos were produced. Policies were formulated for just about every aspect of daily life … all but for the most basic instrument of communication, language (as cited in Ochieng, [ 1989 ], pp. 202-218). The language policy did not change with change in government. Party manifestos before and after independence were not concerned with language. In Kenya, as in other newly independent African states, "the usual practice [was] to honour the foreign European languages with the exclusive status of official languages" (OAU, [ 1985 ], p. 18). The Inter Africa Bureau of Languages (BIL) was set up in 1963 under the auspices of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), to counter this anomaly. Unfortunately, the good intentions of the BIL depended on the political will of the individual member states. For reasons best known to them, the political elite sidelined the indigenous languages in spite of the BIL's openly stated goals:

…To give support and encouragement to the languages of the majority populations as the most effective vehicles of communication to be used in effectively mobilising Africa's majority populations to solve Africa's economic and development ills (OAU, [ 1985 ], p. 2).

The end result was the "abnormality" (OAU, [ 1985 ], p. 18) of having national languages which enjoyed no privileges, and giving to foreign languages all the rights and privileges of official languages. In Kenya, the preferential treatment of English produced, in turn, an elite government which shunned the indigenous languages. In the end, the indigenous languages suffered what Ricard ([ 2004 ], p. viii) refers to as "low intellectual estimation".

The language debate

Fortunately for Kenya, this was also the time that Kenyans exposed to the modern formal education system became power brokers locally in all spheres of life. Some of them realised the danger posed to the local languages by the prevailing [lack of] a language policy. They raised the alarm and created awareness. Consequently, in the late 1970s, there was a sustained campaign from many quarters for newly independent African states to recognise formally and give logistical support to the indigenous languages. There followed heated debates in intellectual circles and acrimonious remonstrations in government offices. In Kenya, Ngugi wa Thiong'o was probably the most vocal proponent of indigenous languages.

Ngugi's language position had been congealing for some time. For ten years after writing A Grain of Wheat ([ 1984 ]), he did not publish. About this silence, Sander and Munro quote Ngugi ([ 1984 ], p. 48) as saying:

The crisis arose out of the writing of A Grain of Wheat . I felt that the people who fed the novel, that is the peasantry…, will not be in a position to read it. And this is very painful. So I really didn't see the point in writing anything at all.

It is not surprising that by the time he finished writing Petals of Blood , Ngugi finally announced he would no longer produce creative works in English. He resolved his "language issues" by choosing to write in Kikuyu. In the same year, 1977, he produced, with Ngugi wa Mirii, a play Ngaahika Ndeenda ( I will marry when I want ). At the time there was only one official language in Kenya, English. Ngugi's action was considered seditious by the political establishment. For daring to produce a creative work in Kikuyu, Ngugi was detained "on suspicion of being a communist". He lost his university teaching job and eventually he went into exile. Today, with the benefit of hindsight, the whole world sees very clearly that Ngugi's tribulations with the establishment had more to do with the uncensored political message in the work, than with the language in which the work was produced.

The tragedy of censorship

But the political establishment used him as a sacrificial lamb, and the cost to Kenya, in terms of creative output, is incalculable (see the low level of creative output before 1980 in Figure 1 ).

figure 1

Visual summary of creative writing in Kenya.

Ngugi's "angst" (Soyinka, [ 1988 ], p. 35) when using English for creative writing may be a natural consequence of the humiliating circumstances in which he acquired English language skills (Ngugi, [ 1981 ], p. 11). For this reason, he is unwilling or unable to do what Chinua Achebe, for example, does in his works:

Chinua Achebe renders the supposed Igbo discourse in English: He excels in reproducing their turns of phrase, their use of proverbs and their set formulas, and representing the world of the village in a way that is equally as acceptable to Nigerian and non-Nigerian readers (Ricard, [ 2004 ], p. 194).

This ability on Achebe's part to "choose the right words", this "keen sense of what is in character and what is not", this "instinct for appropriate metaphor and symbol", (Lindfors, [ 1973 ], p. 92) is not peculiar to Chinua Achebe. Indeed, as far back as [ 1929 ] Mikhail Bakhtin (as quoted in Lodge, [ 1990 ], p. 75) made the following observation:

The possibility of employing on the plane of a single work discourses of various types, with all their expressive capacities intact, without reducing them to a single common denominator - this is one of the most fundamental characteristics of prose.

Indeed, elsewhere in his writing, Ngugi displays the same "mastery of the English language" (Lindfors, [ 1973 ], p. 92) as do Achebe and others. Ngugi's reaction to the realities of the post-independence era in Africa, however, differed remarkably from that of others. When other writers were producing satirical masterpieces, such as Achebe's Man of the People and Ferdinand Oyono's The Old Man and the Medal , Ngugi was labouring over Petals of Blood . Williams ([ 1991 ], p. 58) rightly observes that Ngugi's language theories cannot be separated from his politics. Predictably, his aesthetics in the 1970s brought him up against the political establishment in Kenya.

The education commissions and language policy

Kenya came under British rule in 1895. English became the lingua franca in 1929. Kiswahili, which had previously been widely spoken in the East African region, was encouraged by the colonial administration alongside English until 1953 when it was banned. The 1950s were difficult years in Kenya, with emergency rule being declared in 1952. The tensions and undercurrents of those years are expertly captured in Jonathan Kariara's short story 'The Coming of Power' (Kariara [ 1994 ]).

At least five education commissions have been set up in Kenya between 1963 and 2000. All five have been thoroughly scrutinised by Mbaabu in his 1987 UNESCO/KU manuscript. It is instructive that although these commissions were established to deal with education issues, they all consistently touched on the language question in their recommendations. The first, the Ominde Commission, was set up in 1963 immediately after independence. It published its report in 1964. Although the Ominde Commission ratified the use of English as the medium of instruction, it made a case for Kiswahili so strong that Kiswahili was (re)introduced into the primary school syllabus as a compulsory subject, and a department of linguistics and African languages was set up in Kenyatta University College in 1969.

W. N. Wamalwa and his team published their report in 1972. On their recommendation, two new foreign languages, French and German, were added to the secondary school syllabus. More importantly, they managed to push for Kiswahili to be taught to adults, primarily civil servants, at the Kenya Institute of Administration (KIA) and at the Kenya Institute of Education (KIE). Four years later, in 1976, Gachathi's team expanded the language arena by recommending that Kiswahili be examinable at primary school and that the vernacular languages be used as medium of instruction during the first three years of primary school.

It was Gachathi's team that highlighted the crucial issue of instructional materials. For the foreign languages, English, French and German, there were foreign governments who were quietly expending resources in the teaching of their languages. It was noted that even though Kiswahili had become a compulsory subject in primary school in 1964, very little had been achieved in the creation of instructional materials. Gachathi's team recommended that KIE produce reading and instructional materials for Kiswahili and the African languages.

Mackay's team, set up in 1981 to consider the establishment of a second university in Kenya, made drastic changes to the Kenyan education system. This is the team that introduced what has come to be known as the 8-4-4 system of education. Among other recommendations, this team made Kiswahili compulsory and examinable at all levels of the education system. Kiswahili was to be compulsory in the second university as well. The efforts made in favour of Kiswahili have begun to bear fruit. There is a very large number of Kiswahili readers for children, and the number of adult texts is increasing. A similar campaign needs to be made for each of the mother tongue languages if creative output in these languages is to prosper.

What Ngugi, and Kenyans in general, needed was an intellectual and cultural environment which would liberate the creative force within each individual. This basic right was denied to Kenyans by the prevailing language policy. Some highly resourceful types managed to adapt and camouflage their message. For example, tucked away discreetly in Section V of Kariara and Kitonga's ([ 1976 ]) anthology is a collection of poetry, whose themes are little different from Ngugi's in Petals of Blood . One such poem is Jared Angira's 'Hospitality':

kindly persuaded

by friendly baton

The unripe rubble of them all

came back after a kind persuasion

of the yellow sheet

The first quartile

of the celebrated score

veered persuasively

to the countryside

where peasants scratch

barren grounds

But someone left to the unknown

the referee

who once blew the whistle

And the ground where once he stood

Is mined and barbed

Is mined and barbed (63)

The use of words such as "hospitality", "kindly", and "friendly" in the heading and in the first stanza of this poem may deceive a casual reader into thinking that the message of the poem is benign. In point of fact what the poem is describing is the brutal evacuation of students from the University of Nairobi in 1969. The students had been holding a demonstration to agitate for the construction of a tunnel under Uhuru Highway to provide safer crossing between the halls of residence and the lecture halls. The key word in connection with this poem is "brutal", especially in view of the fact that the students were unarmed and the request they were making made logical sense. It takes an interest in poetry and careful reading to access Jared Angira's message. Creative works which criticise an oppressive regime such as the above poem are not always easy to find. In the case of Kenya, the majority of such gems remained unwritten in the minds of the artists.

Daring writers, like Ngugi, became openly defiant and wrote in their indigenous languages, preferring perhaps (to paraphrase the words of a famous wordsmith) to die writing than to live in silence. The majority of Kenyans played it safe by not engaging in creative writing. Incidentally, the underpass the students had been agitating for was eventually constructed, as quietly as the indigenous languages were allowed into the formal education system.

African languages get recognition

With the policy paper of 1999, Kenya officially recognised the indigenous languages and provided a framework for incorporating them into the formal education system (Njoroge, [ 2008 ], p. 4). This recognition came decades after Ngugi wa Thiong'o's heated campaign for Kenyans (and other Africans) to exploit to the fullest the language and cultural resources at their disposal. We would like to pay tribute to the likes of Ngugi wa Thiong'o for the spirited fight they put up, sometimes at great personal cost, in favour of indigenous Kenyan languages.

The change in policy may have come decades after their incarceration, but it is a welcome move that has already begun to bear fruit. For example, there was a time when even Kiswahili could not be used in offices. Today, Kiswahili is an official language alongside English. African languages are used as the medium of instruction in the formal education system in the first three years of primary school. In addition, there are licensed publications and radio broadcasts in various African languages: Inooro FM broadcasts in Gĩkũyũ; Mbaitũ FM broadcasts in Kĩkamba; Ramogi FM broadcasts in Dholuo.

In the 1980s, there was a bit of creative writing in the various languages of Kenya. For instance, the renowned dramatist and professor of literature at KenyattaUniversity, Francis Imbuga, has penned Lialuka lya vaana va Magomere (translated as Kagai and her brothers ) among other titles. For the most part, what publishers are looking for are class readers for children in primary school classes one to three. Other than die-hards like Ngugi, Kenyan writers have produced only children's stories in mother tongue. This seems to be an indication that were the mother tongue languages to be incorporated in the formal education system at levels higher than primary class 3, Kenyan writers would rise to the occasion by producing more creative works in their local languages to meet the demand for "class readers".

In the meantime, the Text books for Social Studies have been re-written so that each province has its own text book which deals with local details of Geography, governance and cultural practices. This, we are convinced, is a step in the right direction. The next logical step would be to write those text books in the language of the majority in a given locality.

This change in policy has already had far-reaching consequences. As the intellectual and creative space was freed up and indigenous languages accorded official support and recognition in the education system (albeit only at the grassroots level), Kenyans began to write not only in their local languages, but also in the other languages available to them. Two titles, fictional works produced by Kenyans in French, come readily to mind: Chepsosir l'heroine and Le Destin aux mains . For the 1999 language policy which officially recognised the indigenous languages, perhapsthe saving grace lies in the fact that even the likes of NgugiwaThiong'o, while continuing to write in mother tongue, took to writing in English once more.His 2010 Dreams in a time of War: A childhood memoir , for example, was written in English and has no Gĩkũyũ version as yet.

Good policy, poor strategy

In the process of "un-censoring" the creative space in Kenya, however, something seems to have gone wrong. The fact that they could now use Kiswahili and mother tongue inside the class room was taken by teachers to mean that they no longer had to use the English language correctly. Indeed, many teachers of other subjects have been heard telling students not to pay much attention to English as it is a "foreign language". This problem of attitude among teachers and students was further compounded by the "integration" policy. Where before English language and Literature in English were considered two different subjects for purposes of allocating teaching lessons on the secondary school timetable, they are currently lumped together as simply "English". This move has been lauded by teachers of other subjects because it frees up lessons on the timetable for them. In the process, it also reduces the students' contact hours with the language that continues to serve as a medium of instruction.

The net effect of these two realities, irrespective of what the policy may be on paper, is that the quality of the English language skills of the general populace is very poor. There is plenty of evidence of poor mastery of the English language: in the local newspapers, on television, inside the class room, and predictably, in the falling standards of education. There was a time when Kenyans could apply for a visa to travel to an English-speaking country without the need for a language examination. Now all such countries insist that Kenyans take the TOEFL or a similar examination.

Worse, in a country where creation of jobs should be top on the list of priorities, the current policy in the Ministry of Education renders B.Ed. (Arts) graduates whose subject combination is English and Literature unemployable. The truth of the matter is that the private sector is profit-driven. Teachers whose subject combination is English and Literature are not economically viable. Since English Language and Literature in English are now "integrated", these teachers have only one teaching subject. In their place are hired B.A. graduates who have combined either English Language or Literature in English with another subject. Since the Teachers' Service Commission (TSC) does not hire teachers without at least four years' teaching experience, a vicious cycle ensues. The result of the poor mastery of Language (any language) in Kenya is also manifest in the level of creative output (see Figure 1 ).

The way forward

As Kenyans rejoice in their hard-earned cultural freedom and celebrate the multi-lingual nature of Kenyan society, therefore, we plead with them and the policy makers not to do anything to adulterate the cultural and creative space, but rather to streamline it. In concluding his paper, Njoroge ([ 2008 ], p.19) calls for a "workable language policy in education". We would like to suggest that the indigenous languages be accorded official language status and receive support and encouragement at all levels of the education system, but not at the expense of English. For instance, it should be made possible for students in Ukambani to take their KCPE and KCSE examination in Kikamba. The same should apply in all the other districts (or counties in the new constitutional dispensation). Alongside the structures that already existed for English, we should set up structures to teach and examine competence in the other languages used in Kenya. Such structures should include the wherewithal to produce and disseminate instructional materials. It is highly unlikely that Kenyans, having enjoyed the benefits of multilingualism, would stop using English or Kiswahili. But the linguistic capabilities in their first languageswould definitely improve. This would translate into improved linguistic capabilities in the second, third and subsequent languages. More importantly, the writing skills of the general populace would improve, and many more creative works would be published.

As a country, Kenya needs to urgently harness the positive energy inherent in multilingualism. The African languages must stop being just cultural artefacts and become the drivers of economic development. An organised system of teaching and testing competence needs to be established for the most vibrant languages. This will benefit native speakers of that language as well as non-native speakers who wish to learn the language.

Authors' information

Esther K. Mbithi is an ardent advocate of multilingualism. She reads literature in five languages (Kamba, Swahili, English, French and German) and is currently learning a sixth (Chinese). She is a lecturer, Literature Department, Kenyatta University, Kenya.

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  • Language Policy
  • Official Language
  • Creative Work
  • Indigenous Language
  • African Language

discuss the importance of language in creative writing

Creative Writing in the Natural World: A Framing

Creative Writing in the Natural World: A Framing

  • Resources & Preparation
  • Instructional Plan
  • Related Resources

To promote development, detail, and focus of ideas in students' writing, it sometimes helps to start with a fun, creative writing activity that encourages what you want to see in all of their writing. In this minilesson, students practice writing detailed, sensory-rich descriptions by framing a small piece of nature and freewriting about it. From this, students can develop a variety of types of writing including poetry, short stories, science writing, reflections, and other academic genres.

Featured Resources

  • Literal vs. Figurative Language Guide
  • Internet access and the Flip Book Interactive

From Theory to Practice

This lesson explores figurative language comparisons formally known as simile and metaphor; however, the focus of the lesson is on students' use of their their imaginations to describe their observations in writing rather than on the official terminology for language use. In Wondrous Words: Writers and Writing in the Elementary Classroom , author Katie Wood Ray advises, "Give it [the craft element you identify in a text] a name so you can refer to it easily in the future as you study craft and as you writing your own texts"; yet the name that students use need not be the formal, "correct" name (42). The formal name of the element simply detracts from the ways that writers work. As Ray explains, "What's important is that, in seeing it and naming it for yourself, you have a new vision of what's possible when you try to write well" (42). When we do use formal names for craft elements, best practice pairs such words with students' definitions of the elements. Ray and Lisa Cleaveland say, "We are careful to use the words most writers in the world use for the important concepts of writing . . . if we embed kid-friendly explanations of what they mean...we need not shy away from the words themselves" (98). Further Reading

Common Core Standards

This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.

State Standards

This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.

NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts

  • 5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
  • 6. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.
  • 8. Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.
  • 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
  • 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

Materials and Technology

  • A piece of loose paper, paper to take notes on, and a writing utensil (pen or pencil)


  • Scout out a good spot to take students outdoors on the school grounds, a place that preferably has grass or that feels somewhat “natural.” If such an area isn’t available, it is okay to do this activity on constructed spaces such as sidewalks, playgrounds, and even inside the classroom if absolutely necessary, but it’s best done outdoors.
  • Prepare the Literal vs. Figurative Language Guide by making it into a transparency or making copies for each student.
  • Test out the Flip Book Student Interactive .

Student Objectives

Students will:

  • freewrite about a specific place that is framed by their piece of paper using imaginative and literal observations.
  • identify nouns in their writing that they would like to focus on and develop further.
  • write using specific sensory imagery and figurative language in order to accurately describe their framed “worlds.”

Session One

  • Ask students to get out a loose piece of paper.
  • Have them fold it in half at least once and tear or cut out the center. (Some students may want to fold it more than once in order to create an unusual shape. That’s okay.) The goal is to be left with a piece of paper with a hole in the middle of it like a frame. The frame can be of any shape or size.
  • Explain that you will be taking the class outdoors and that each student will find a spot to place his or her frame. Also explain that students will pretend that what is inside the frame is the entire world, the only thing students will focus on. In their notebooks, students will freewrite about what they find in their frames. Encourage students to use their imaginations. Perhaps they’ll find a bug and write about it as a giant dinosaur or a talking creature. However they proceed, students should write as freely as possible to get as much detailed information down about their framed “worlds” as they can.
  • Once students have found a place outdoors for their frames, give them ten to fifteen minutes to freewrite.
  • Back inside the classroom, ask students to remind you what a noun is. Ask them why nouns are important in writing. How do they function in a sentence, for example? (One answer is that nouns help us know who or what a sentence is about. They are they focus, and they help us visualize ideas as we talk or write about them in any genre.)
  • Have them read over their freewriting and underline three to five nouns that they would like to focus on.
  • Collect students' freewriting to be returned in the next session.

Session Two

  • Return students' freewriting from the previous session where they had finished by underlining three to five nouns to focus on.
  • Ask students to list their five senses. Ask for a volunteer or two to provide one of their nouns. Use these to practice developing these nouns into fully described sensory experiences. Help students describe them using all five senses. Encourage imaginative leaps so students understand that their descriptions don’t have to be literal.
  • At this point, discuss the difference between literal and figurative language, and explain that the goal is for students to describe their nouns using sensory detail and figurative language. Show students the Literal vs. Figurative Language Guide overhead or give them the handout. If the students were to write literal descriptions of their framed “worlds,” for example, they will simply write exactly what is in their frames (Grass looks green; sand feels rough; grasshoppers make a high pitched noise, etc.), but if they write figuratively, they will use their imaginations to describe their observations. This might include using similes, metaphors, hyperbole, and personification. For example, the grass looks like spiky green hair; sand is solid water; grasshoppers are fiddlers who play their legs, etc.
  • Using the Flip Book Student Interactive , have students create a page for each of the three to five nouns they underlined. (Each student should complete at least three pages.) On each page, they will develop these nouns by adding sensory-rich, figurative descriptions of them in paragraph or poetry form. The goal is to describe each noun using as many of the five senses and as much figurative language as possible. Encourage students to be imaginative for this process. What might an ant sound like? How might a rock smell?
  • Students may need to finish their Flip Books outside of class, or you might reserve some class time tomorrow to finish these up.
  • Give students the opportunity to share their finished pieces with the class.
  • Encourage students to develop their flip book pages further by illustrating them.
  • Students might also use an additional page in their flip books to create a piece of writing such as a short story, poem, or reflection about the natural world. Encourage them to find connections between the nouns in their list. How might that list become one piece of writing instead of three to five separate pieces?
  • Discuss ways students can use these writing techniques to improve other writing that they are doing. You might ask students to review one of their past writing assignments and underline places where they might add detail or figurative language in order to develop their ideas.

Student Assessment / Reflections

As long as students participate fully in the freewriting activity and complete at least three pages on their Flip Books, they should receive full credit for this activity. If you would like to turn the Flip Book into a graded assignment, you might require that each page include at least three sensory images and one instance of figurative language. Students might also earn credit by reading one of their pages aloud in front of the class.

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The Science of Writing

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The role of creativity in the writing process

Creativity plays a crucial role in the writing process. It is the driving force behind originality, imagination, and the ability to produce engaging and impactful written work.

Students and creativity in writing go hand in hand. Writing is not only a fundamental skill but also a means of self-expression and exploration of ideas. Nurturing creativity in writing can significantly enhance a student’s ability to communicate effectively and develop their unique voice. Here are some ways to encourage creativity in student writing:

  • Provide freedom and choice: Allow students to choose their topics or writing prompts. When given the freedom to explore their interests, students are more likely to tap into their creativity and produce unique and engaging pieces.
  • Foster a supportive environment: Create a classroom atmosphere that encourages risk-taking and values creativity. Establish an open dialogue where students feel comfortable sharing their ideas without fear of judgment. Encourage peer feedback and constructive criticism to help students refine their work.
  • Incorporate different writing styles and genres: Introduce students to various writing styles and genres, such as poetry, short stories, persuasive essays, and creative nonfiction. Exposing them to different forms of writing expands their horizons and allows them to experiment with different techniques.
  • Use visual aids and prompts: Visual aids, such as images, paintings, or videos, can serve as excellent prompts for writing. Encourage students to observe and reflect on visual stimuli and let their imagination take over as they create narratives or descriptions inspired by the visuals.
  • Emphasize the revision process: Teach students that writing is an iterative process. Encourage them to revise and refine their work, focusing on aspects like structure, word choice, and clarity. Emphasize that creativity can be nurtured through revisiting and reimagining their initial ideas.
  • Encourage reading: Reading is an essential component of developing strong writing skills. Encourage students to read widely and expose them to different literary styles and voices. Reading can inspire their creativity and provide them with a broader understanding of storytelling techniques.
  • Incorporate collaborative writing activities: Collaborative writing activities, such as group storytelling or shared writing exercises, can foster creativity by encouraging students to build on each other’s ideas. Collaboration helps students see different perspectives and learn from their peers’ creativity.
  • Provide time for unstructured writing: Dedicate class time for free writing sessions where students can explore their thoughts and ideas without constraints. This unstructured writing time allows them to tap into their creativity and develop a habit of expressing themselves freely.
  • Celebrate and showcase student work: Recognize and celebrate students’ creative writing achievements. Share their work with the class, display it on bulletin boards, or create a class anthology. Public recognition and validation of their creativity can inspire students to continue exploring their writing talents.

Remember, each student is unique, and their creative processes may differ. Encourage individuality and personal expression while providing guidance and support along the way. By fostering creativity in writing, you empower students to develop their voices, think critically, and communicate effectively in a variety of contexts.

Pressto helps students write across a range of subjects and interests and produce their own digital essays or pages, or printable zines.

Learn more:

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  • A step-by-step guide to the writing process

The Writing Process | 5 Steps with Examples & Tips

Published on April 24, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on December 8, 2023.

The writing process steps

Good academic writing requires effective planning, drafting, and revision.

The writing process looks different for everyone, but there are five basic steps that will help you structure your time when writing any kind of text.

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discuss the importance of language in creative writing

Table of contents

Step 1: prewriting, step 2: planning and outlining, step 3: writing a first draft, step 4: redrafting and revising, step 5: editing and proofreading, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about the writing process.

Before you start writing, you need to decide exactly what you’ll write about and do the necessary research.

Coming up with a topic

If you have to come up with your own topic for an assignment, think of what you’ve covered in class— is there a particular area that intrigued, interested, or even confused you? Topics that left you with additional questions are perfect, as these are questions you can explore in your writing.

The scope depends on what type of text you’re writing—for example, an essay or a research paper will be less in-depth than a dissertation topic . Don’t pick anything too ambitious to cover within the word count, or too limited for you to find much to say.

Narrow down your idea to a specific argument or question. For example, an appropriate topic for an essay might be narrowed down like this:

Doing the research

Once you know your topic, it’s time to search for relevant sources and gather the information you need. This process varies according to your field of study and the scope of the assignment. It might involve:

  • Searching for primary and secondary sources .
  • Reading the relevant texts closely (e.g. for literary analysis ).
  • Collecting data using relevant research methods (e.g. experiments , interviews or surveys )

From a writing perspective, the important thing is to take plenty of notes while you do the research. Keep track of the titles, authors, publication dates, and relevant quotations from your sources; the data you gathered; and your initial analysis or interpretation of the questions you’re addressing.

Especially in academic writing , it’s important to use a logical structure to convey information effectively. It’s far better to plan this out in advance than to try to work out your structure once you’ve already begun writing.

Creating an essay outline is a useful way to plan out your structure before you start writing. This should help you work out the main ideas you want to focus on and how you’ll organize them. The outline doesn’t have to be final—it’s okay if your structure changes throughout the writing process.

Use bullet points or numbering to make your structure clear at a glance. Even for a short text that won’t use headings, it’s useful to summarize what you’ll discuss in each paragraph.

An outline for a literary analysis essay might look something like this:

  • Describe the theatricality of Austen’s works
  • Outline the role theater plays in Mansfield Park
  • Introduce the research question: How does Austen use theater to express the characters’ morality in Mansfield Park ?
  • Discuss Austen’s depiction of the performance at the end of the first volume
  • Discuss how Sir Bertram reacts to the acting scheme
  • Introduce Austen’s use of stage direction–like details during dialogue
  • Explore how these are deployed to show the characters’ self-absorption
  • Discuss Austen’s description of Maria and Julia’s relationship as polite but affectionless
  • Compare Mrs. Norris’s self-conceit as charitable despite her idleness
  • Summarize the three themes: The acting scheme, stage directions, and the performance of morals
  • Answer the research question
  • Indicate areas for further study

Once you have a clear idea of your structure, it’s time to produce a full first draft.

This process can be quite non-linear. For example, it’s reasonable to begin writing with the main body of the text, saving the introduction for later once you have a clearer idea of the text you’re introducing.

To give structure to your writing, use your outline as a framework. Make sure that each paragraph has a clear central focus that relates to your overall argument.

Hover over the parts of the example, from a literary analysis essay on Mansfield Park , to see how a paragraph is constructed.

The character of Mrs. Norris provides another example of the performance of morals in Mansfield Park . Early in the novel, she is described in scathing terms as one who knows “how to dictate liberality to others: but her love of money was equal to her love of directing” (p. 7). This hypocrisy does not interfere with her self-conceit as “the most liberal-minded sister and aunt in the world” (p. 7). Mrs. Norris is strongly concerned with appearing charitable, but unwilling to make any personal sacrifices to accomplish this. Instead, she stage-manages the charitable actions of others, never acknowledging that her schemes do not put her own time or money on the line. In this way, Austen again shows us a character whose morally upright behavior is fundamentally a performance—for whom the goal of doing good is less important than the goal of seeming good.

When you move onto a different topic, start a new paragraph. Use appropriate transition words and phrases to show the connections between your ideas.

The goal at this stage is to get a draft completed, not to make everything perfect as you go along. Once you have a full draft in front of you, you’ll have a clearer idea of where improvement is needed.

Give yourself a first draft deadline that leaves you a reasonable length of time to revise, edit, and proofread before the final deadline. For a longer text like a dissertation, you and your supervisor might agree on deadlines for individual chapters.

Now it’s time to look critically at your first draft and find potential areas for improvement. Redrafting means substantially adding or removing content, while revising involves making changes to structure and reformulating arguments.

Evaluating the first draft

It can be difficult to look objectively at your own writing. Your perspective might be positively or negatively biased—especially if you try to assess your work shortly after finishing it.

It’s best to leave your work alone for at least a day or two after completing the first draft. Come back after a break to evaluate it with fresh eyes; you’ll spot things you wouldn’t have otherwise.

When evaluating your writing at this stage, you’re mainly looking for larger issues such as changes to your arguments or structure. Starting with bigger concerns saves you time—there’s no point perfecting the grammar of something you end up cutting out anyway.

Right now, you’re looking for:

  • Arguments that are unclear or illogical.
  • Areas where information would be better presented in a different order.
  • Passages where additional information or explanation is needed.
  • Passages that are irrelevant to your overall argument.

For example, in our paper on Mansfield Park , we might realize the argument would be stronger with more direct consideration of the protagonist Fanny Price, and decide to try to find space for this in paragraph IV.

For some assignments, you’ll receive feedback on your first draft from a supervisor or peer. Be sure to pay close attention to what they tell you, as their advice will usually give you a clearer sense of which aspects of your text need improvement.

Redrafting and revising

Once you’ve decided where changes are needed, make the big changes first, as these are likely to have knock-on effects on the rest. Depending on what your text needs, this step might involve:

  • Making changes to your overall argument.
  • Reordering the text.
  • Cutting parts of the text.
  • Adding new text.

You can go back and forth between writing, redrafting and revising several times until you have a final draft that you’re happy with.

Think about what changes you can realistically accomplish in the time you have. If you are running low on time, you don’t want to leave your text in a messy state halfway through redrafting, so make sure to prioritize the most important changes.

Editing focuses on local concerns like clarity and sentence structure. Proofreading involves reading the text closely to remove typos and ensure stylistic consistency. You can check all your drafts and texts in minutes with an AI proofreader .

Editing for grammar and clarity

When editing, you want to ensure your text is clear, concise, and grammatically correct. You’re looking out for:

  • Grammatical errors.
  • Ambiguous phrasings.
  • Redundancy and repetition .

In your initial draft, it’s common to end up with a lot of sentences that are poorly formulated. Look critically at where your meaning could be conveyed in a more effective way or in fewer words, and watch out for common sentence structure mistakes like run-on sentences and sentence fragments:

  • Austen’s style is frequently humorous, her characters are often described as “witty.” Although this is less true of Mansfield Park .
  • Austen’s style is frequently humorous. Her characters are often described as “witty,” although this is less true of Mansfield Park .

To make your sentences run smoothly, you can always use a paraphrasing tool to rewrite them in a clearer way.

Proofreading for small mistakes and typos

When proofreading, first look out for typos in your text:

  • Spelling errors.
  • Missing words.
  • Confused word choices .
  • Punctuation errors .
  • Missing or excess spaces.

Use a grammar checker , but be sure to do another manual check after. Read through your text line by line, watching out for problem areas highlighted by the software but also for any other issues it might have missed.

For example, in the following phrase we notice several errors:

  • Mary Crawfords character is a complicate one and her relationships with Fanny and Edmund undergoes several transformations through out the novel.
  • Mary Crawford’s character is a complicated one, and her relationships with both Fanny and Edmund undergo several transformations throughout the novel.

Proofreading for stylistic consistency

There are several issues in academic writing where you can choose between multiple different standards. For example:

  • Whether you use the serial comma .
  • Whether you use American or British spellings and punctuation (you can use a punctuation checker for this).
  • Where you use numerals vs. words for numbers.
  • How you capitalize your titles and headings.

Unless you’re given specific guidance on these issues, it’s your choice which standards you follow. The important thing is to consistently follow one standard for each issue. For example, don’t use a mixture of American and British spellings in your paper.

Additionally, you will probably be provided with specific guidelines for issues related to format (how your text is presented on the page) and citations (how you acknowledge your sources). Always follow these instructions carefully.

If you want to know more about AI for academic writing, AI tools, or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

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Revising, proofreading, and editing are different stages of the writing process .

  • Revising is making structural and logical changes to your text—reformulating arguments and reordering information.
  • Editing refers to making more local changes to things like sentence structure and phrasing to make sure your meaning is conveyed clearly and concisely.
  • Proofreading involves looking at the text closely, line by line, to spot any typos and issues with consistency and correct them.

Whether you’re publishing a blog, submitting a research paper , or even just writing an important email, there are a few techniques you can use to make sure it’s error-free:

  • Take a break : Set your work aside for at least a few hours so that you can look at it with fresh eyes.
  • Proofread a printout : Staring at a screen for too long can cause fatigue – sit down with a pen and paper to check the final version.
  • Use digital shortcuts : Take note of any recurring mistakes (for example, misspelling a particular word, switching between US and UK English , or inconsistently capitalizing a term), and use Find and Replace to fix it throughout the document.

If you want to be confident that an important text is error-free, it might be worth choosing a professional proofreading service instead.

If you’ve gone over the word limit set for your assignment, shorten your sentences and cut repetition and redundancy during the editing process. If you use a lot of long quotes , consider shortening them to just the essentials.

If you need to remove a lot of words, you may have to cut certain passages. Remember that everything in the text should be there to support your argument; look for any information that’s not essential to your point and remove it.

To make this process easier and faster, you can use a paraphrasing tool . With this tool, you can rewrite your text to make it simpler and shorter. If that’s not enough, you can copy-paste your paraphrased text into the summarizer . This tool will distill your text to its core message.

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Why Is Language Important? Your Guide To The Spoken Word

Updated: June 5, 2024

Published: June 9, 2020


Language is a vital part of human connection. Although all species have their ways of communicating, humans are the only ones that have mastered cognitive language communication . Language allows us to share our ideas, thoughts, and feelings with others. It has the power to build societies, but also tear them down. It may seem obvious, but if you’re asking yourself, why is language important? You’ll have to break it down to truly understand why.

Why Is Language Important? Language Matters

Language is what makes us human. It is how people communicate . By learning a language, it means you have mastered a complex system of words, structure, and grammar to effectively communicate with others.

To most people, language comes naturally. We learn how to communicate even before we can talk and as we grow older, we find ways to manipulate language to truly convey what we want to say with words and complex sentences. Of course, not all communication is through language, but mastering a language certainly helps speed up the process. This is one of the many reasons why language is important.

Language Is Important To Culture And Society

Language helps us express our feelings and thoughts — this is unique to our species because it is a way to express unique ideas and customs within different cultures and societies.

By learning a foreign language , you can understand ideas and thoughts that may be different from your own culture. You can learn customs and how people interact in a given society. Language helps preserve cultures, but it also allows us to learn about others and spread ideas quickly.

Language Is Important To Business

The importance of language in business is unmatched. Without language here, we can’t share ideas and grow them into something more. Whether this means learning a foreign language so you can share ideas with people who come from a different country, or simply learning how to use language to master an interview, demand presence in a room, or network with others, language is vital.

Language Is Important For Individuals And Development

Humans all learn to talk at slightly different times, and observing when a child starts to use language can be indicative of how well they are developing. But this does not just apply to babies. It also applies to young children learning a second language in school that’s different than the language they speak at home, adults learning a second language , or even those who may have lost language due to some type of accident, and are working on regaining it.

Language Is Important For Personal Communication

Though much of human communication is non-verbal (we can demonstrate our thoughts, feelings and ideas by our gestures, expressions, tones, and emotions) language is important for personal communication. Whether it’s being able to talk to your friends, your partner, or your family, having a shared language is necessary for these types of interactions.

Image by Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay

The basic functions of language.

The main function of language is the use of language. It gives us the ability to communicate thoughts, ideas, and feelings with others as quickly as possible. But, within that, we can understand language more by looking at its basic functions.

1. Informative Function

The informative function of language is when we use language to communicate any information. Essentially, its function is to inform others by being able to state facts clearly.

2. Expressive Function

Another basic function of language is the expressive function. As it sounds, it is used to express oneself by giving us ways to convey our feelings, emotions, and attitudes to another person (or ourselves).

3. Directive Function

The directive function of language is a basic function that helps us to direct or command. For example, it gives us the ability to tell ourselves or someone else what to do in any given situation.

Different Types Of Language

In addition to language functions, there are also different types of language and ways to understand language overall. Being able to differentiate these can help you understand other reasons why language is so important.

Oral Vs. Written Language

In general, oral communication is spoken language meant for conversing with others. Written language is about expressing ideas through writing words down.

Oral communication is usually more informal and faster, while written language is more formal and slow.

Denotative Meaning Vs. Connotative Meaning

Words have a lot of meaning to them, and the meaning depends on the context surrounding the word. This is why there is denotative meaning and connotative meaning.

Denotative meaning is the literal definition/intention of the word, whereas connotative meaning is when words carry positive or negative meanings/connotations. An example of this could be “home” versus “house.” “House” is denotative, being the literal term for this type of structure where someone may live, whereas “home” is connotative and represents a shelter, family, security, etc. Understanding the difference can help you understand the intention of language.

Six Elements Of Language

There are six elements of language:

  • Clarity: Using language in a way that ensures the intended audience fully understands your ideas; that your ideas are clear.
  • Economy: Being ‘economic’ about how you speak by avoiding any unnecessary language. This means using only the necessary and appropriate words to express yourself while avoiding using language your audience won’t understand. Essentially, this means avoiding fluff or complicated vocabulary.
  • Obscenity: This refers to ‘indecent language’, including, but not limited to, curse words and hateful remarks.
  • Obscure Language/Jargon: This is very specific language that your audience will not understand because they are not familiar with what you are talking about. This could be when your car mechanic explains to you what’s wrong with your car, but you are not a car mechanic, so you are unclear of what they’re talking about.
  • Power: This is when someone uses language to exert power over someone to manipulate them, command them, or to get them to do something they want. It could also be to demonstrate yourself as an authority in the room.
  • Variety: This is a speaker’s ability to use a combination of all the different types of language aforementioned to successfully and creatively get ideas across.

Image by Aline Dassel from Pixabay

Different language styles.

Within language, there are many different styles to fit what the speaker wants to communicate. While some are unique to a person’s personality, some speakers may adapt certain styles depending on the situation, even if it’s different from how they normally speak.

1. Direct And Indirect Styles

Direct is a way to use language to indicate to a person exactly what you want to say and/or how you’re feeling. Indirect language means using other words or types of communication to demonstrate you may be feeling a certain way, but without directly saying why or what, in other words, being indirect. If you’ve ever been in an argument with a significant other, you probably have experienced both of these language styles.

2. Personal And Contextual Styles

These two language styles are a bit more complex. In general, personal style refers to an individual’s personal way of speaking, is informal, and focuses on that individual. Contextual styles means changing language depending on the context of a situation. For instance, a professor may use their personal style of speaking with friends and colleagues, and a contextual style when lecturing their students.

3. Untranslatable Words

Untranslatable words are words or phrases that we have to adapt from other languages because we do not have a word that means the same thing in our own language. A good example is how we say “Bon Appetit!”, because we don’t have a good translation.

Using Language Effectively

Language has so many benefits to humans, but it can also be problematic if language is used ineffectively. This is why it’s important to be mindful of how you are using language in any situation.

1. Use Appropriate Language

Using appropriate language does not just mean avoiding obscene language (there may be times when that is actually appropriate for the situation!). It means using language that’s appropriate for your audience, that they can understand, relate to, and engage with.

2. Use Vivid Language

To use vivid language is to use imagery in your language, to describe something as vividly as possible. It may mean using more adjectives or onomatopoeia to illustrate what you’re saying.

3. Use Inclusive Language

Inclusive language means using language that does not exclude any person. For instance, instead of using “he or she” to address an audience, the correct term is “they” to include people who may not identify with a particular gender. It also means avoiding any language that is racist, sexist, misogynist, hateful, presumptuous, prejudiced, etc.

Language Is Changing Along With The Culture

When discussing topics like inclusive language, it’s easy to recognize that language, today, is changing alongside culture. With technology comes trends or different ways of speaking, like how many teenagers or young people use slang when they speak. When societies become more open-minded and progressive, we start accepting that there are many other ways of speaking language.

Many of us know the answer to why is language important, but we often take language for granted or actually don’t think about it. Language is an important life skill, particularly in school and in the workplace.

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‘Creative writing can be as impactful as an academic paper’

Grassroots initiatives can promote visibility of marginalised groups, self-expression and community, writes Emily Downes. Here are her key tips from running a creative writing competition to mark LGBTQ+ History Month

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Last year marked two decades since the repeal of Section 28, a UK law that prohibited what was described as “the promotion of homosexuality” by local authorities. What this meant, in practice, was that generations of LGBTQ+ children grew up with no safe access to information about LGBTQ+ issues, no role models, no representation. They had no indication, in fact, that they could have a successful life that included employment, acceptance and community. 

Surely, as hubs of knowledge production, higher education institutions have a social and ethical responsibility to actively repair some of the damage wrought by this law. As LGBTQ+ staff in the sector continue to report  discrimination and erasure , are we providing enough opportunities for our students to see their own lived experiences roadmapped and reflected? 

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While institutional support and backing are essential in amplifying LGBTQ+ representation and visibility, staff on the ground can also make an impact through grassroots initiatives. And where better to push back against the fearmongering of Section 28 than from a place of love? For author, theorist and educator  bell hooks , all key social justice movements have promoted a love ethic: a practice that seeks to use knowledge, responsibility, care, trust, respect and commitment. How might that look in your professional context? 

In mine, I have had the privilege of coordinating a creative writing competition for LGBT+ History Month . Here’s some of what I learned.

Knowledge and responsibility

It’s natural to feel powerless against discrimination. However, take heart – there’s no one defining form of activism. You may not feel you have the capacity or physical ability to protest in the streets or the wherewithal for a strategic campaign. That doesn’t mean you have nothing to contribute to the cause of a more inclusive landscape in higher education. We each have our own offering of knowledge, skills and interests to share. These needn’t exclusively be academic pursuits.

What brings you joy? Perhaps it’s a gentle walk in nature or listening to a podcast or crocheting. I’m partial to all three…and I also enjoy using writing to make sense of my inner and outer worlds. A couple of years ago, I started facilitating LGBTQ+ creative writing for well-being sessions in my local community. Last year the chair of our university LGBTQ+ focus group asked if I would use this experience to make our campus more inclusive. We agreed that I would deliver a drop-in session exploring the importance of queer representation , and that I would coordinate a creative writing competition around the same theme. As a “late bloomer” bisexual who grew up with a dearth of positive representation, I felt a responsibility to be visible in our university community. I had first-hand experience of the possibilities that creative writing affords for healing and growth. I am also well aware of how stifling and impenetrable academic writing can feel for many. I saw the creative writing competition as an opportunity to put self-expression firmly back into the hands of a marginalised community. 

Care and trust

Over the past two academic years, I have gained important insights into developing the competition process with care and establishing trust with our participants. Working with students with protected characteristics means a vital aspect of care is gaining consent at multiple stages. For trans students , for example, being named in certain contexts could have immediate and severe material consequences. One student sought me out during graduation week last year to ensure they would be  dead-named – otherwise, they said, they wouldn’t be able to return home with their parents after the ceremony. 

This has fed into my experience with the competition. Just because someone has entered doesn’t mean they will feel willing or able to be named in a university update or read their piece at a public event. However much you think you’ve tied up loose ends, please double-check. It’s better to be mildly irritating with an abundance of care.

That said, please don’t let the need for caution be off-putting. Demonstrating this level of care is foundational to developing trust. Repeatedly checking in with participants about how they are represented also helps to build a sense of agency they may not always feel they have in wider society. Liaise with those in your initiative whenever a new context arises in which they may be named. 

Respect and commitment

University community members who participate in our writing competition are occupying a  brave space , and this demands our respect. We value our staff and students’ intersectional identities and recognise how vulnerable it can feel sharing those parts of yourself in your place of work or study. I have shared some of my own LGBTQ+ journey during the drop-in sessions. Another sign of respect has been the active and enthusiastic engagement from our executive director of communications and development, who has sat on the judging panel both years. Having buy-in from senior management is indescribably validating not just for our entrants but for the wider LGBTQ+ community at the university.

Commitment to such an initiative can take many forms, the most essential of which are reflection and learning. For example, our inaugural winner, Allison Rosewood, submitted a non-fiction piece about becoming the trans role model she had always sought herself. We platformed her work at the university Pride event – she was unable to speak in person, so we recorded her reading her work and played it during the Pride Literary Hour. We invited Allison to sit on the 2024 judging panel, and the award has been named the Allison Rosewood LGBTQ+ History Month award. Now, our winner will always be invited to read at Pride and to sit on the panel. Allowing the project to evolve has helped create space for students to have their experiences and identities validated, and to build an archive of visible role models. 

This year, our prompt invited entrants to imagine a world where Section 28 had never existed. Mac McClelland’s winning entry,  Brianna , is staggering. The piece eloquently draws a line from past to present, highlighting just how far-reaching and damaging legislation in this vein can be. Opening the door for this creative expression has resulted in something that, in my opinion, is as impactful as an academic paper. 

Knowledge, responsibility, care, trust, respect and commitment, then…what’s coming to mind for you? Perhaps you owe it to yourself and your community to explore your own initiative. One caveat to this: please also apply a love ethic to yourself. Does the thought of a project like this make you weary? You may be running low on reserves, especially as we so often expect members of marginalised communities to advocate and enact positive change themselves. Someone else can take up this mantle, and that’s fine, too. 

The legacy of Section 28 is a traumatised, under-represented LGBTQ+ community and a wider UK society that still often struggles to accept those living outside a heteronormative, cisnormative version of reality. But if you do have the energy and resources, projects like ours can be transformative for individuals and institutions. As bell hooks wrote: “When we are taught that safety always lies with sameness, then difference, of any kind, will appear as a threat…The choice to love is a choice to connect – to find ourselves in the other.” Let’s work to make our institutions a place of connection and relish all the richness of experience that entails. 

Emily Downes is senior student success tutor (academic writing) and LGBTQ+ Focus Group co-chair at Teesside University.

If you would like advice and insight from academics and university staff delivered direct to your inbox each week,  sign up for the Campus newsletter .

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Joanne is a Technical SEO Specialist at a digital marketing agency in Singapore. She is fluent in Thai and was awarded the ‘Advanced Thai Proficiency’ by the Sirindhorn Thai Language Institute of Chulalongkorn University. Today, she continues to teach her friends basic Thai speaking and helps her Thai friends actively promote Thai culture.

Writing is one of the most important skills of language learning and acquisition. 

At the very core, writing is all about communication. So is speaking a language.

Being able to write well is not just about using bombastic and flowery vocabulary. It is about the ability to convey an idea simply and clearly for the receiver. 

This is especially true when writing in a second language . It forces you to think about what exactly you want to convey and how to ensure that the message does not get lost in translation. 

Why I learnt the Thai language?

I had never planned to learn Thai. It was a complete fluke 🤪

In fact, I had never travelled to Thailand prior to going to Thammasat University in Thailand for my Student Exchange Programme (“SEP”). 

Not even as a tourist.

The funny thing is that I didn’t even have a choice. Back then, the National University of Singapore (NUS), for some reason, had decided to reserve half the schools for SEP for the junior batch.

All the countries and universities in the world were removed from my list of options and I was only left with Thammasat University in Thailand.

Yet in hindsight, I am grateful for that event 😊 I would not have picked up the Thai language if it didn’t happen. As they say, learning a language widens your worldview. It is a portal to another culture’s way of life. 

Learning the Thai language has helped me develop a greater appreciation of Southeast Asian languages and cultures. 

And because of my Thai language skills , I managed to get a foot into the up-and-coming SEO industry by starting off as a Thai-speaking SEO intern 😉

How does writing help you learn and improve on your language skills?

1) writing as a language skill hones your ability to express yourself clearly and concisely.

As someone who learnt four languages, when learning a new language, I will always be inclined to first think in my  native tongue  at the beginning. This means that the sentence structure of what you are about to say in the foreign language probably isn’t the natural way native speakers would communicate.

Thereafter, you will mentally translate what you want to convey in the new language. This is the standard process everyone goes through before they are able to think and express themselves naturally in the new language they have learnt. 

So how does writing well help you learn a language better then? 

Well, if you cannot even express yourself clearly and concisely in your native language, you are much less able to translate your message into another language in a way that is easily understood by the receiver. 

In that sense, writing exposes you to what you are lacking in your native language as well. If your translated writing is based on your native language, and people aren’t able to understand that, then perhaps there are areas in your native tongue that need improvement as well.

This is how language and writing skills complement each other.

2) Writing in different languages exposes what you do not know 

When speaking on the fly, you are likely to converse about daily life topics or revolve around topics you are familiar with. 

However, in writing, you might be tasked to express thoughts and ideas on an unfamiliar topic. 

This then becomes a true test of your communication and writing skills as you are now exposed to what you do not know, you are forced to search for new vocabulary to describe the unfamiliar topic.

This then enhances your language skills to be able to express yourself confidently on a wider range of topics. 

For example, when staying in Thailand, I had minimal issues when communicating with Thai locals on topics surrounding day to day activities. I was easily able to tell the Taxi driver where to go and was able to order meals in Thai. 

After I returned to school in NUS, I decided to take advanced classes to learn Thai in Singapore . That was when I really became captain of the struggle bus 😫I struggled to write Thai essays on complex topics such as the education system, foreign workers and even the gospel in Thai! 

Writing in different languages then exposed what I did not know how to say in Thai and helped build new vocabulary to enhance my Thai language skills .

3) Writing forces you to become more creative in expressing yourself

How do you make your article engaging and stand out amongst the score of blogs and articles on the internet? Answer – by being creative and thinking of how to convey similar ideas in new, eye-catching ways. 

How do you ensure relevancy across different target audiences? Answer – by coming up with different ways to bring your points across that will resonate with different groups of people. 

Such skills are required in language learning because different languages are not a 1-1 match. For example, the common word “ageing” in the English language has no equivalent in the Thai language. 

How should you express yourself then? One way to do so is to think of the properties of ageing skin. For example, ageing skin is likely to have wrinkles. An ageing skin might sag down as it loses its elasticity. Use those terms to express ageing skin in Thai instead.

And in turn, you will become more familiar with the alternative vocabulary you used to express yourself.

4) Writing provides you with a physical record of your language learning process

When writing in a foreign language, you can clearly see the mistakes you make along the way.

One thing I would suggest is that after completing one piece of writing, you leave it aside for at least a few hours to take your mind off it. Then return to it after that.

You’ll find that you’ll be able to spot mistakes you thought you had avoided 👀

Keep all these pieces of writing with you. You can use them as notes to remember the mistakes you’ve made and remind yourself to avoid them.

So, how writing can help you learn a language you ask?

In plenty of ways!

As I’ve said, writing can not only help you work on your target language but also your native language as well. And all these will ultimately lead to you becoming a better communicator than before.

And that’s it! I hope these pointers have helped you gain a deeper understanding of how writing can help improve your language learning.

That said, when it comes to writing, there are plenty of tricks and writing frameworks you can use you diversify your writing style. And these will come in handy when you’re seeking to improve your language capabilities.

So, to learn more about the variety of writing tips and tricks out there, check out Writing Wildly’s blog for writers !

The Importance of Writing in Language Learning

No matter what you’re trying to learn, including writing as a part of your language learning is important and beneficial.

  • February 12, 2019
  • Marielle Zagada

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It allows you to organize and refine your ideas

It gives you a “hard copy” of your progress, it helps others give you feedback, it helps you recall what you’ve learned, it can also develop your speaking skills.

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No matter what language you’re trying to learn, writing as a part of your language learning is important and beneficial.

Most of the activities we do every day — from work meetings and presentations to writing emails and normal conversations — bring out the need to communicate. Especially in  today’s globalized business environment, language skills are considered to be very important , surely boosting anyone’s career.

In fact, a lot of companies look at employing people with proficient language skills. This way, they can speak with confidence, deduce meaning, and exchange information with others.

But in order to be a good and effective communicator, you have to develop these  four basic language skills :  listening ,  reading ,  speaking,  and  writing .

Breaking these down, speaking and writing are productive wherein the action of producing language is part of the process of second language learning. As for listening and reading, there isn’t a need to produce language, only the need to receive and understand it.

Why should I write?

Most people learn a language with the main goal of speaking it, but rarely consider writing because it doesn’t help hold conversations. But no amount of listening or reading will allow you to shape your language structure entirely.

If you really want to be fluent in a language you’re trying to learn, you should aim to speak, listen, read, and write in it. Could you say that you’re able to create something based on  your  own knowledge?

Listed below are a few reasons why writing is important in learning a language.

Writing is a much slower process, letting you organize your thoughts more before shaping your sentences. When writing, you can gradually process your words, maybe even look them up first before transferring them onto paper or even a digital document.

With that, you’re also able to learn new vocabulary, spellings, and pronunciations as you go. Once done, you can also look back on what you’ve written and correct them if needed.

Practice makes perfect, even more so in writing. Who doesn’t make mistakes, right? That’s why you should write as much as you can when learning a language. So that over time, you’ll  see the progress of your language learning journey in order to evaluate your weak and strong points .

If you don’t pay attention to your mistakes, you’re likely to make them in your speaking skills as well.

Treat writing as a way to not just apply your knowledge, but also a tool to continually improve your vocabulary and sentence structure. Plus, you can also practice your reading skills with it!

As much as you should correct your outputs, you should also let other people check them. After all,  feedback in writing is key . Otherwise, you’ll make the same mistakes again and again without even knowing. So, why not get constructive feedback crafted personally for your work?

Having someone thoroughly  check what you’ve written and give you tips on how to revise and improve your writing is also a way to lead you in the right direction .

With the right resources, not only will you be guided through the process of your writing, but also get the right advice to become better at it.

With all the words, phrases, and rules there are in a language, it may feel hard to memorize them all. But many studies have shown that writing is proven to be helpful in retaining information because  putting your learning into practice is important for cementing it in your mind , as practice creates new neural pathways in the brain.

When we write, we are putting some degree of thought into evaluating and ordering the information that we are receiving.  That process is what helps fix ideas more firmly in our minds, leading to a greater recall .

So, when you constantly write in your target language, you’ll be less and less likely to forget what you’ve learned.

A 2015 study on the relationship between writing and speaking reveals that  learners who have skills to produce academic language in writing can easily transfer argumentative skills to speaking skills . So, if you develop your writing skills in a new language, you will increase your competence in speaking that language as well. It’s a win-win!

As the global workplace forces us to improve our communication skills, we should pay further attention to our writing abilities since  communication is transmitted more through writing than any other type of media .

Being able to write well is a  skill that will get you a long way in the workplace, partly because it is fairly rare in many places, and writing specific types of documents takes great skill to do.

So, as you master a new language, know that polishing your  writing skills with it will likely pay off in the longer term . And an even greater edge for any professional, writing well in a global language or two.

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The Role of Writing in the Overall Language Learning Process


My name is Shannon Kennedy and I'm the language lover,…

Writing is one of the most important exercises related to language learning and a very effective way of converting passive vocabulary to active. Other benefits include its ability to polish the learner’s grammar, particularly when you have the opportunity to have your writing corrected. And, as a creative activity, the process can be rather enjoyable.

School, again, often gets in the way when it comes to writing. And the methods taught, are perhaps not the best way to interest students or motivate them to use this technique beyond the classroom walls. And this loss of motivation is the language learner’s worst enemy; it’s led to the falling off of many aspiring polyglots at the very early stages of their journey.

The Right Way to Approach Writing as a Language Learner

To be really effective, writing should be a daily element of your language learning routine. Here are a few suggestions to get you started along the right path:

* Choose your own topics // Write about things that interest you. You yourself know what will keep you going so that you form a writing habit. * Listen to your inner voice // Write when the mood strikes you or when you need to work something out, not when it’s the next step in your course book. * Ask someone you trust to check it out for you // If you choose to have your work corrected in a public forum (like iTalki or Lang-8), see if you can make a few connections first. That way, you can request that those connections correct your work rather than an anonymous or unfriendly user who may leave you (usually unmerited) negative comments. You don’t want some online trolling to put you off taking part in a beneficial learning exercise. * If you can afford to hire a professional to proofread your work, do so, but ask them to highlight all the changes in some way  // They can color-code the changes or use some other forms of markup. Then analyze their suggestions thoroughly. * At first, write as you speak // As you get more proficient, you can take on a more formal or academic tone. You don’t have to share your writing, but don’t forget – your language learning friends may appreciate your work!

When You Should Start Writing

In general, writing should follow the extensive reading stage. You can expect overlap (for a bookworm the extensive reading stage never ends). It offers you the chance to actively use new words so that they acquire even more meaning. When words are written by someone else, they don’t have the same power to stick as when you yourself have crafted them into a text.

In the early stages, it’s critically important to have your work double-checked. Why? Because it’s at the beginning that we make the most mistakes. The sooner you use them as a learning opportunity, the sooner you’ll keep from forming bad habits (that take a lot of work to correct later on).

Other Forms of Writing are Useful for Language Learners, Too

Writing comes in all different shapes and forms. Apart from doing your own articles – whether fiction or non-fiction – you can participate in forums and social networks. This gives you the opportunity to try out less formal styles of writing and pick up language directly from the native speakers.

Unfortunately, there is a drawback – when your own command of the language is still fragile, it is very easy to pick up all sorts of errors (and there are loads of these in online forums). Be wary when imitating the writing of others. Again, it’s always a good idea to have your work checked.

In addition to participating in online forums, you can try out your writing skills by text messaging with friends, using Skype, or other similar instant messengers. When you’re ready to take things to the next level, these platforms are also great for working on your speaking skills. Developing the ability to come up with the necessary words quickly is important for effective communication. That said, text messaging may be a more comfortable solution for some language learners.

Another way to practice your writing is through blogging. This can be a very powerful tool for language learners at the more advanced levels because you are not only able to document your progress, but you’ll also connect with people who speak the language you’re writing in and even get feedback on your writing. It’s a lot of fun to run a blog, especially when the comments start coming in. But even when the comments remain empty, the joy of creation is a reward in itself.

Finally, there is the subtle art of email writing – something people rarely escape in the modern world. If you have the occasion to communicate with customers or acquaintances who live in a country where your target language is spoken by everyone, consider yourself lucky. It does, however, require responsibility – you don’t want to miscommunicate with customers!

In order to write good emails, knowledge of the language as such is not enough – you will need some awareness of the etiquette, as well. At first, it might be a good idea to ask someone to look through your email before clicking the ‘send’ button. But if you are a motivated language learner, it won’t be long before you gain the confidence to initiate conversations on your own. With this practice, you can improve quickly, mastering this multifaceted and useful skill in no time.

Why You Should Write in Your Target Language More

Why write at all? Is not speaking in one’s target language enough for activating passive vocabulary? That depends, of course, on your reason for learning the language.

If writing is just to chat with native speakers and get some practice in, then speaking is certainly enough. But for many of language learners, basic conversation isn’t enough. If you’re anything like me, you long to use the language you are learning in many different ways . That requires a lot more vocabulary than basic speaking skills.

To maintain a conversation, you’ll need to know around 3,000 words (but it can be done with even less). To read a novel or partake in more complex conversations, this number can start at around 9,000 and reach up to 20,000 words.

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And there’s no better way to really immerse yourself in the power, richness, and unique beauty of a language than by having such a vast vocabulary will give you. Plus, it’s a great sense of self-satisfaction and accomplishment.

Romanticism aside, there is always another – and much more practical – side to why writing is important.

Earlier, I mentioned blogging. And for those interested in making a serious effort at it, blogging isn’t just a way to practice writing in your language. It’s also a viable source of income for those prepared to put a certain amount of effort into promotion. The time spent polishing one’s writing skills – as described above – is certainly not wasted.

What about you?

Do you include writing as a part of your language learning routine? If so, what tactics do you employ?

We’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

About the Author  // Irina Ponomareva is a language enthusiast from Russia who is now collaborating with the online linguistic school named Lingostan as a bilingual web copywriter and translator. Irina is currently learning Italian, German and Mandarin Chinese and is actively sharing her own language learning experience with others through her articles.

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My name is Shannon Kennedy and I'm the language lover, traveler, and foodie behind Eurolinguiste. I'm also the Resident Polyglot at Drops and the Head Coach of the Fluent in 3 Months Challenge.

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The 4 Core Language Skills

Language learning requires concentration, dedication and skills.

Now, while these skills may not be easy to master, they are at least easy to understand and name.

Allow me to introduce you to the four language skills and 13 tips on how to improve them.

What Are the Four Language Skills?

Tips for reading, 1. change the language settings on everything., 2. read one news article per day., 3. read what the teens are reading., tips for listening, 4. listen to songs in your target language on repeat., 6. watch 3-5 videos per day on youtube., tips for writing, 7. make your to-do list in your target language., 8. find an online pen pal., 9. write short stories., tips for speaking.

  • 11. Find a tutor on italki.
  • 12. Join a local language Meetup.

13. Go directly to the source.

How much should you focus on each language skill, and one more thing....

Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)

Learning a new language can be difficult. Anyone who’s ever learned a new language is right there with you. But believe it or not,  you only need four main skills to achieve fluency .

That’s good news, right?

Here’s some even better news: You probably already know what they are. In order to become fluent in a language, you need to master these four basic skills:

Reading and listening are   passive skills. You’re consuming the language.

Speaking and writing are active skills.  You’re producing the language, which requires a different mental muscle.

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When someone is fluent, it usually means that they are proficient in all four skills . But how can improve all four of them? Read on for tips on how to do just that. 

While reading might be the most passive skill, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easy. Text that may be casual reading in your native language can take double or triple the time to fully comprehend in a new language.

Here are some ways to build your reading skills.

Most people spend large chunks of their time engaged with an electronic device. Use that to your advantage.

If you’re reading this post, then there’s a good chance that you’ve got access to at least one, if not all, of these devices: a television, a laptop, a computer, a tablet, a cellphone, a smart watch…the list goes on.

So change your language settings to your target language on every device you can.

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discuss the importance of language in creative writing

Even if reading isn’t part of your ultimate goal, this strategy is still very useful. You’ll be building vocabulary with the repetition of notifications and common features that you use on your device.

Unlike language learning programs, where the reading material is purposefully written in easy-to-understand verbiage, online articles are written for native speakers.

If you’ve tried it, you know that in reading an article in a foreign language you’ll be hit with both words you’ve never seen before and words that you recognize but are arranged in such odd combinations that your mental translations are nothing short of gibberish. 

Just take five minutes during your commute or your work break to pull up an article of interest in your target language and start reading.

You don’t even have to finish it all in one shot. You can spend days on the same article if you have to. Just make sure you give yourself constant exposure, and you’ll see that over time the reading will become much easier.

The best way to go about finding articles is to do a Google search for something like  best news sites for ___ learners.  Here are some lists for common languages to start you off in Spanish , French , German and Japanese .

Another option is to do a search for “news” in your target language.

  • Learn words in the context of sentences
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discuss the importance of language in creative writing

Books for teens and young adults are another great resource for immersing yourself in a language.

The text is going to be less mature and have less jargon than a journalistic article, for example, so you’ll find that you’ll have less of a headache getting through the text.

One great idea is to get a book that you’ve already read in your target language. For example, if you’re a fan of series such as “Harry Potter” or “The Hunger Games,” you’ve probably read the books more than once and know the stories inside out.

When reading these stories in your target language, you won’t struggle so hard to figure out what you’re reading, and will likely be able to easily translate words you’ve never seen before just because you already know the story.

Even if this is considered a passive skill, this is arguably the second-toughest skill after speaking. However, mastering it is just a matter of daily exposure.

Here are some fun and easy ways to get listening in so that you’ll have more confidence in real-world situations.

Music is such a great way to build listening skills as a language learner. Unlike movies and television, music is something we memorize. We learn the words and we sing along.

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discuss the importance of language in creative writing

With access to countless volumes of music through YouTube and streaming services , you can spend an entire day discovering new music in your target language and strengthen your listening skills.

If it’s your first time hearing a song, look up the lyrics online on a website like Genius . Play the song over and over again until you’re sick of it and sing along. By that time, you won’t need the lyrics anymore, because you’ll know every word.

Make sure to squeeze in music wherever you can. During your morning routine, your commute. If you have a desk job, even better. You’ll be impressed with how quickly your audio comprehension improves.

A good way to find songs is to search Google for popular artists in your target language , if you don’t already know any, and then search for the artist on YouTube or your favorite streaming service.

There’s also a wonderful website called Lingoclip where you can make a game out of learning lyrics by listening to songs and then filling in the gaps in the lyrics. They provide music in several different languages, at all levels of learning.


YouTube videos are great for quick, controlled listening. You can find short and long video clips about pretty much anything that interests you.

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discuss the importance of language in creative writing

You can subscribe to several channels in your target language so that you learn the most current slang and colloquialisms while also staying up-to-date on culture.


You can also subscribe to the channel Easy Languages . There’s a good chance you’ll find videos in your target language. You can watch short videos of people discussing different topics with subtitles in both English and the language you’re learning.

If they’re available, you can easily turn on subtitles in English or in your target language for other videos, which will make it easier to follow along.

There’s also a speed option on YouTube  (under “Settings”), which you may or may not know about. For a language learner, it’s a gift.

When you slow down the speed of the videos you’re able to pick up on more words and phrases, and when you’re ready, you can speed it back up again to see how much you’ve learned.

You can also make the videos go faster than normal, just to challenge yourself, and then when you go back to normal speed the native speaker won’t sound so fast to you anymore.

discuss the importance of language in creative writing

This active skill is probably the skill you’ll use least as a language learner unless your job requires it.

It can be just as important as any of the other skills, though, so check out three ways to get more writing time in.

We all have such busy schedules and sometimes it’s hard to keep track without a to-do list. Well, if you’re a language learner, language practice is probably on that list. So, why not get your practice in at the start of your day?

When making your list of things to do for the day, or for the week, however you organize your time, try writing all of your tasks in your target language . Not only is it a good way to practice, but it’s also a great way to wake up your brain.

It sounds old-fashioned, but having a pen pal is still a great way to practice. You won’t be writing letters and mailing them to some far-off country, at least, not unless you choose to. Today, you can find a pen pal online and have a dialogue from anywhere at any time .

Depending on the relationship you have with your pen pal, you can go back and forth in emails, or maybe you’ll communicate through one of many websites or apps.


You can find pen pals online through websites such as Interpals and My Language Exchange . For more websites, click here .

Tapping into your creative side is a fun way to break up some of the monotony of typical language practice. You can literally write stories about anything.

You’ll get the chance to explore words and topics that you might not use, or think to use, in everyday conversations . You’ll be thinking in similes and metaphors, and playing with word combinations.

Try starting this on a day off or when you’ve got at least two or three hours to spare . You’ll want to be able to take your time, so it doesn’t have to be completed in one day.

Maybe set a goal to finish a story in a week, and do a small bit every day. As long as you’re putting pen to paper—or fingers to keyboard—you’ll be progressing.

Writing stories will help you think about the language in a different way. They can be as long or as short as you want, and the most beautiful part of it all is that no one ever has to see them.

The holy grail for language learners, right? More than anything else, we learn new languages because we want to be able to speak them.

If you’re not sure how you can get more speaking time in, the three suggestions below should set you on the right path.

11. Find a tutor on italki .


On italki, you can find a tutor or a teacher . When you have a tutor or a teacher, it’s all about you. While these options cost money, you’ll have someone who’s one hundred percent invested in you.

With a tutor or a teacher, you can set a regular schedule , so that every week you’re guaranteed to have at least one day where you get to practice for however long you’ve arranged it with your instructor.

italki also offers the option of taking group classes . These are one-off classes or a short series of classes focusing on various topics such as grammar, conversation, job interviews, even culture and history. You can select your language and browse the list of classes to see if there’s something interesting for you. 

12. Join a local language Meetup .


It’s great to be able to learn with a group of other learners. In Meetup groups, you can find people at all levels and engage in dialogue on any topic in a safe and non-judgmental environment.

When you find a group on Meetup, make sure it’s active. You’ll want to join a group that has regular events , because that way you know you’re dealing with people who are serious about learning and practice.

A lot of times the Meetup groups gather in locations where there’s food or drink, and many times at venues with a cultural link to the language you’re learning for a more immersive experience.

So if you want to break up some of the loneliness of learning solo and share your frustrations and triumphs with like-minded companions, log on to Meetup and find a group that fits your needs.

If you like to read tips about the best way to go about learning a language, you’re almost always going to find immersion on the list. There’s a reason for that, as it’s the most effective way to learn. 

To say it straight, if you have the time, money and opportunity to travel to a country where your target language is spoken, then go, stay at least three months and have the time of your life. When you come back home, you’ll be a lot more fluent than when you left.

If you can’t leave the country, then immerse yourself locally . If you live in a big city, or near a big city, you have access to so many different cultural communities. If your target language is Spanish, hang out in Hispanic neighborhoods, go to restaurants, read, listen and speak.

“But,” you may be thinking, “What if my foreign language is French, German, Urdu, etc.?” Some communities are going to be easier to access than others, depending on where you live . However, that’s what the internet is for. Do a search and you can find what’s available within a comfortable distance from home.

FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

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How much you should focus on each language skill depends entirely on your situation, however, here are a couple of steps you can take to assess which skills you need to give extra attention to.

Understand your strengths and weaknesses

You’ll often hear people who learn another language mention that they’re weakest in listening or speaking. This makes sense. While one is a passive skill and one an active skill, both speaking and listening are skills that fall somewhat out of your control, and so are likely to need more work .

For instance, you can’t control how fast or slow someone else will speak, and when you’re still learning, the faster someone speaks the harder they are to understand.

Reading and writing, on the other hand, you can control. Generally, they’re both solitary activities. With both, you can go as fast or slow as you’d like. You can stop and do a search for translations. People tend to pick up on these two skills much quicker than speaking and listening, because they can take their time developing the skills.

Ironically, though, speaking and listening, the skills that we tend to covet the most, are also the skills that we try to rush, even though they often take longer to master.

The scenarios mentioned above are common, but they may not apply to everyone. So think about it. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Keep building up your strengths, but don’t push the weaknesses off to the side. Set goals to get them stronger. With enough consistent practice, you’ll see improvement.

Determine your needs

Depending on what your needs are,  you’ll need to master at least three skills if you want to be fluent (you might be able to get by without writing depending on what your situation is).

Mastering all four is time-consuming, so before you jump into a long-term study plan , first determine what your needs are.

Determine what your goals are and why you are learning.  Is it for fun? Work? Family? Only you know how you’ll be using the language, so you should tailor your learning in a way that will be both efficient and effective.

You don’t want to waste time building up skills that you’ll never use. If you have the time, great, go for it. If not, focus more of your energy on the skills that you need the most .

It’s a challenge to learn a language, but what a great one!

Find ways to make it fun and interesting and it won’t feel like learning at all.

You can do this, so get out there and start strengthening those skills!

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discuss the importance of language in creative writing

Deborah J. Cohan Ph.D.

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The Joy of Writing

Personal perspective: unlocking the power of the creative process..

Posted June 4, 2024 | Reviewed by Ray Parker

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  • Getting more comfortable with and confident about the writing process can assist with publication.
  • Writing can be liberating and relates to clear thinking.
  • The pressure to "publish or perish" in academia is sabotaging and undermines the real joy of writing.
  • Writing is about being part of a larger conversation; academics should make their work accessible.

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Academics in nearly every college or university setting write as part of their careers, and yet few faculty members identify as writers. There are real ramifications to this paradox. Importantly, the promise and possibilities are unearthed when we are able to identify ourselves as writers more fully. It's possible for academics to develop an effective writing process that carries with it greater ease and efficiency.

Unfortunately, the graduate school curriculum at most institutions focuses almost exclusively on gaining substantive knowledge in an area of specialty and adding to it with research. However, few academics spend all or even the bulk of their time doing research. We teach, and then we write about our research. Some of us are lucky enough to have some training in pedagogy . Yet most of us were never trained to become writers of academic articles, book chapters, or monographs. And it is even rarer indeed that graduate programs include any training in how to effectively and persuasively make writing accessible to a general audience.

The lack of training for writing—and perhaps maybe even more problematic, the real lack of mentoring toward a writer’s life —is why so many of us do not dare to identify as writers. How is it that an important, if not necessarily predominant, aspect of our academic careers could be so discounted? If we are not writers, how can we write well? If we are not writers, how can we develop confidence in the work we produce? Our lack of attention to writing often stymies our careers and interferes with the capacity to translate important work for the larger public.

Academics internalize that we must “publish or perish,” as the common adage goes. This is a message that discourages joy in writing—beyond being a utilitarian means to an end, it creates fear , loathing and pressure. We’re told that if we do it enough, our careers will survive. Meanwhile, the process of writing that publishing requires is rendered invisible. It’s as though the outcome of publishing is all that matters for a committee to tally up the number of enough publications in a file so our jobs will be secure. Publish enough and you are tenured, and your job is secure. In this paradigm, publications are defined as external products created for pragmatic reasons.

What if rather than scaring faculty members into publishing instead of perishing, we considered more deeply the joy of writing? Publishing in a competitive academic market has come to be seen mostly as jumping through enough hoops to get or keep a job, yet focusing on good writing serves us better and is far more effective. It will produce better writing and, thus, more publications to boot. A focus on writing helps us keep our eyes on the long game and why we are writing—and therefore publishing—in the first place.

In the process of writing, we clarify our thinking. Often, writing helps us come to know what we know, to discover our argument and to make plain our feelings. When words are translated from our minds to the page, we communicate as only writers can, helping readers discover what we know, make the analytical connections we have discovered, understand the theories we propose, and wrestle with the conclusions we draw.

The process of writing is about entering a conversation—first in our own minds and then ultimately with readers. Being a writer is about having the courage and conviction to dare to be part of a larger conversation. It’s about deepening and extending that conversation by generously offering our distinct angles of vision. When we think about writing like this, it is much more about the opportunity to engage with others to influence the discussion.

The process of writing liberates our ideas, taking them from internal dialogues to a public forum, whether for colleagues, students, or people who read newspapers and magazines. Rather than dread the publish or perish game, academics should focus on the process of writing, the privilege of being a writer who is able to enter the intellectual and public debates of our time and perhaps influence them.

Of course, the submission process may still be frightening. We will definitely still often receive rejections. And yet, when we focus on writing as our art, our craft, such concerns do not always take center stage—we shift the focus to the reasons we write and the process of doing so. Submitting our work for publication becomes an opportunity to get the perspective of reviewers and editors. And if we focus on improving our craft, it is easier to understand and really know that those reviews can help sharpen our ideas and their ability to influence the conversation.

discuss the importance of language in creative writing

A version of this post also appeared in Inside Higher Ed with Barbara Risman.

Deborah J. Cohan Ph.D.

Deborah J. Cohan, Ph.D., is a professor of sociology at the University of South Carolina-Beaufort where she teaches and writes about the intersections of the self and society.

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At any moment, someone’s aggravating behavior or our own bad luck can set us off on an emotional spiral that threatens to derail our entire day. Here’s how we can face our triggers with less reactivity so that we can get on with our lives.

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The Importance of Using Sentence Variety in Writing (and Mini-Lesson on How to Implement This in Your English/Language Arts Class)

discuss the importance of language in creative writing

Using sentence variety is an essential aspect of effective writing. It involves incorporating different sentence structures and lengths to create a more engaging and interesting piece of writing. Without sentence variety, writing can become monotonous and boring which causes readers to lose interest and engagement. In contrast, a writer who uses varied sentence structures can capture the reader’s attention and create a more enjoyable reading experience.

In addition to improving reader engagement, sentence variety also enhances the clarity and impact of one’s writing. By using different sentence structures, writers can emphasize key ideas, convey tone and mood, and deliver a more nuanced message. This allows writers to convey their intentions more effectively and with greater impact which makes their writing more persuasive and memorable.

Use the mini-lesson below to help your students incorporate more sentence variety in their writing:

Identify and Discuss

Have students read a piece of writing with varied sentence structures, such as an article from a news magazine or an excerpt from a novel. Then, have students identify the different sentence structures and lengths used in the piece, and discuss how they contribute to the overall impact of the writing. 

You can guide this activity with a set of highlighters and guided questions. For example, ask your students to highlight any sentence with 1-2 commas with a yellow highlighter. In partners or groups you may ask “What is the impact of this longer and more complex sentence? How does it contribute to the reader’s experience?” 

Next, students can highlight short or abrupt sentences in a different color. You  may ask a similar question – “How do these short sentences impact the article or story?” 

Lastly, have students discuss how the inclusion of multiple sentence styles create a more interesting and engaging story. “How would this article feel different if every sentence was written in the same way? Why is it important for writers to vary their sentence structures?” 

This activity can be repeated with multiple stories or articles, fiction or nonfiction, and with many different sentence styles highlighted and compared. 

Practice Your Own

After students have an understanding of different sentence styles and variety, it’s time to practice! Students can use models they have seen from articles, books, or teacher models as a starting point or they can work from a blank page without a model for a more rigorous activity. 

Creating sentences may be easier for students when provided a given topic, so consider choosing a topic for your class, or if students have a topic in which they are particularly interested, then simply let your students choose their own topic. 

Next, ask your students to produce about 2-3 written paragraphs on this topic with a goal of implementing at least 3 varieties of sentence structures. You may choose to focus on specific sentence structures, or you may request the most variation of sentence structures that students are able to generate. 

Writing can be exhausting and challenging for students, so it’s important to keep this practice chunked into timed segments and always plan for feedback at the end of practice. 

Peer Review

After about 20-30 minutes of independent student practice, it’s time for feedback! Have students peer-review each other’s writing, specifically focusing on sentence variety and offering suggestions for improvement. 

It is best practice to give students a checklist or set of criteria for success when setting up the peer feedback process. In this example, you want to focus on sentence variety, so your checklist might include something similar to the following: Two compound sentences, two complex sentences, at least one use of a short sentence, etc. 

When students give each other feedback, they should record their notes on the checklist then return it to the original student so they can then implement the feedback. 

Another tip: Give your students sentence starters for overall feedback – “Your sentences were effective when… Your sentence variety could be more effective if…” This process of peer editing not only makes students stronger writers but also prepares them to be better editors of their own work.  

By incorporating this lesson on sentence variety, students can develop a greater understanding of its importance and learn strategies for incorporating it into their own writing moving forward.

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  28. Plain language

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