AWP, Conventions & Conferences, Education, Writers on Writing, Writing Programs, Written Communication

AWP 2012 | Creative Writing in the Real World

Creative writing class-fine arts center (40269...
Creative writing class-fine arts center (402690951) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Is it April already? I meant to write a ton of compelling blog posts about all of the sessions I attended at the March 2012 APW Convention in Chicago, but I didn’t get past describing the first session. Although I’m a bit behind, I think a lot of the lessons I learned at the convention are essential. So today, I’ll take a peek backward and tell you about the second session I attended, titled, “Out There and In Here: Creative Writing in the Real World.”

This session was presented by Abby Bardi, Rick Kemp, Janice Meer, and Adeena Reitberger in the Astoria room of the Hilton Chicago. The AWP’s official description of the session follows:

Exploring the question posed by Stiehl and Lewchuk (2005), What do students need to be able to do out there that we’re responsible for in here?, this panel examines the relevance of the creative writing class to the workplace. We evaluate applications of creative writing to creative thinking, demonstrate the applicability of practices of creative writing to academic and workplace writing across disciplines, and recommend creative writing as a practical field of study and professional tool.

I don’t have a whole lot of notes on this particular session. The first 2 speakers basically read to us from their notes and didn’t say much that really caught my attention. I felt they could have just as easily handed out copies of what they read to us and left us to read to ourselves.

I was, however, impressed with professor Janice Meer (from University of Maryland University College,) an interesting lady whose colorful career includes a stint at the Pentagon, as well as time writing speeches for a variety of political-types.

Meer talked about how her writing skills helped her nab several non-traditional writing jobs, including crafting executive summaries for scientific reports. Meer discussed how many technical professionals know a great deal about their subjects but are incapable of translating their findings into plain English that the average reader can digest. She says there is a great need for non-technical writers to translate for those technical types.

The final speaker, Rick Kemp, Acting Director of English at University of Maryland University College, discussed the importance of creative writing skills in the business professions. Kemp says many companies are looking for creative thinkers, but this skill seems to be lacking in the average business student. According to Kemp, students need to practice being creative to build the skill. Because of this, creative writing courses are as essential for business students as they are for those English students who wish to make creative writing a profession.

Having a business background myself (with a BS in Business Administration and an MS in Management,) I agree with much of what Meer and Kemp had to say. I teach Written Communication at a local technical college, to students who often do not believe my course is relevant to their chosen technical careers. One of the most important elements I stress in my classes is the importance of effective writing skills in every career field. After all, writing isn’t just for writers.

How does writing help you in your profession? Please comment below.

~Mandy Webster

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