Creative Writing Offers New Approach to English Learning


A student writes in her notebook. (Photo by Ashlynn Perez)

By Ashlynn Perez, Newspaper Copy Editor

With January now over, it marks the end of the first month for many semester-long classes, one of them being the creative writing class taught by Jani Wilkens.

“I guess my favorite thing [about Creative Writing] is it’s so different from any other English class,” Wilkens said. “Since I teach AP Lang, I do a lot of academic style writing, and so I like creative writing because it’s similar, but it’s also completely different. So it’s just a world of English that we don’t really get to spend a lot of time on in class.”

The class makes up half of an English credit, and is full of juniors and seniors this semester. They get the chance to take a different approach to the traditional English Language learning, shying away from many of the grammar constructs and formal essays, and instead developing creative skills to improve their overall writing. 

“I have a lot of students who come back to me, especially first semester seniors who are writing college scholarship essays and stuff, and they’ll say that the ability to infuse their creative writing style into their more academic tasks has really helped them,” Wilkens said. “And then I have other, kind of fun stories, like people who have to write a speech for a toast someday, or a letter to someone about something special. So I think there’s a lasting impact on the things that you write, and it’s kind of cool to have the students see that.”

The class covers three main writing genres: fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Within a semester, they cover each of the topics in-depth, learning how it’s written and then trying their hand at it. In class, they do what are called “notebook entries”, where Wilkens gives her students a prompt or idea and they have time to free write. After free writing, students volunteer to read their pieces aloud, and then Wilkens focuses on promoting positive feedback from the other students. When they aren’t writing, they’re reading published works that fall into the genre of study and learning to apply those techniques to their own writing.

“I really liked that we got to do our own thing and we didn’t have to stick to a strict guideline,” junior Abby Anderson said. “We get to do what we want.”