SGarza.HowDoesVoiceFunctionInTheCreativeWritingClassroom History

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Voice can be a challenging concept to teach simply because is an innate concept. Because there is no single approach to achieving voice since writing conventions vary, the writing instructor can only facilitate voice. The teacher, therefore, must generally serve as a guide, coach, and counselor; the role must be to remove barriers between the student and his/her voice to the greatest degree possible. As a result, writing teachers often position themselves to invert the pedagogical ethos of composition, to foreground their role as keepers of the castle rather than the openers of the castle (Lardner). The inversion reveals through student content. Where the standard composition class encourages a single academic voice, the creative writing class encourages each student to find the individual voice. Sometimes creative writing students even develop multiple voices of individual characters, the voice of the narrative, and the voice of each creative work as a whole.

The journal serves as a useful tool for the creative writing instructor. By assigning writing exercises, the teacher can guide the student to the necessary through the journal. The journal allows the student to write in relative privacy, which removes the potential barriers presented by negative criticism. The journal also serves as a necessary stepping-stone to the workshop setting, allowing a smooth transition from the freewriting exercises into submitting finished work. While this process is no stranger to the composition course, the creative writing course uses the journal to develop the voice of a specific piece of writing. That final voice may not necessarily be the standard academic voice; creative writing students are often encouraged to break the boundaries of standard English where it serves the purpose of the work. The composition class generally converts the journal voice into academic English, while the creative writing class may maintain the journal voice or create a new voice entirely. In contrast to composition, the creative writing instructor will focus on the process of reaching voice, and not upon the final product.

With a focus on encouraging the individual voice, the workshop impacted the creative writing class by presenting an environment compatible to open expression. Through the workshop, the student writer is empowered to receive, as Ed Davis notes, perks of writing, such as the correspondence you develop with other writers by submitting your work, getting any editorial comments you can use to make your story better, publishing, even the subsidy publishing perhaps of your book, of having a book to share with other (Waggoner). The format is designed to boost the self-confidence of the student, since much of the challenge of submitting creative writing is the fear of negative criticism. The structure of the workshop limits student defensiveness by requiring writers to remain silent during the discussion of the submission, while also empowering the workshop members to deliver open and constructive feedback.

In the creative writing classroom, encouraging student confidence to submit work becomes all the more essential. In a composition class, submission is far less risky because the student can fall back upon the standard academic voice. This academic conformity creates a zone of safety for the student. In contrast, the creative writing classroom presents a riskier atmosphere and can be daunting to the [creative] writer, especially the (Zacharias). Furthermore, because creative writing relies far less on the standard rules of composition, the individuality of voice increases the risk of negative criticism. For the creative writer, there is no safe bubble of conformity. Therefore, as Gary Mitchner says of modern creative writing courses, a friendlier workshop environment promotes lack of pressure to be (Waggoner). Where the composition class emphasizes the finished paper, the creative writing class emphasizes the confidence of the student writer to express the individual voice.