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The Evolution of Creative Writing

Creative Writing, a term believed to be coined by Emerson in 1837, refers to writing that lies

beyond the normal academic, journalistic, or technical forms of literature. It emphasizes the

craft of narration, character development, borrowing of literary tropes, or with various poetry

tradition. Originally, stories and folktales were passed down from generation to generation

through the practice of oral culture, or more commonly known as word of mouth. History,

traditions, cultures, and stories were preserved and shared mainly through this oral practice.

Eventually, it also began to be known as oral literature. It was only after the development of

the written word around 3200 BC, that stories began to be penned down. As such developments occurred the nature of story-telling began to change- instead of completely

vanishing, it began to be supplemented by creative writings that preserved the best of stories

and tales for the coming generations. Some of the earliest examples of written stories are the Bible and Homer’s Odyssey. It is very likely that these texts were originally oral literature,

which was later transcribed. 


Stories, poems, and any form of creative writing have always been a doorway to exploring

the lives and practices of people living in the past. Though much has changed in terms of

politics, equality, social society, science, technology, and economy, it is very often observed

that one thing remains constant- human nature; it colours lives now the same way as it did

eons past. At our very core, the way humans perceive and react in a society is unchanging,

and beautiful enough that is why we still read and enjoy works belonging to writers long

gone.


However, Creating Writing as a discipline began gaining prominence and interest only in the

post-world war era. There was a reworking of university education during this period,

wherein many universities and colleges began offering courses on the same. The first person

to receive a degree in creative writing was, perhaps, Wallace Stegner, who was from Iowa.

He founded the program at Stanford by convincing a wealthy oilman to fund an organization

where returning veterans who were interested in writing, could get away from their families

and hang out in solitude. Stegner believed that the purpose of writing was to give the readers

“intense acquaintance” with the author. In the UK, the first official creative writing program

was established as a Masters of Arts degree at the University of East Anglia, by the novelists

Angus Wilson and Malcolm Bradbury.


Another interesting aspect while tracing the evolution of creative writing is recognizing that

at different points in history different literary trends were popular. At various periods,

different lengths and types of writings have enjoyed recognition, be it poems, plays, or

essays. However, it is tough to judge whether their peak was a result of or a catalyst for the

works of certain exceptional writers.


Another important milestone would perhaps be the invention of the printing press. This

helped revolutionize society’s ability to produce and distribute creative writings that could be

accessible to the masses. This monumental development most importantly gave people an

incentive and opportunity to read and write. Literacy rates began climbing and more people

started enjoying stories, poems, and other creative works. This led to the further

commercialization of literary works where people started writing for publications or private

individuals. And thus, the role of a writer in society was born, an occupation that is still

widely celebrated to this date. 


Today, with the developments in technology and society, a lot of the creative writing works

have also opted for an online platform, in the form of blogs or websites. People can now

share their works and others can access them from the remotest of locations, without the

hassle of heavy paperbacks. Though, many would argue that nothing can come close to the

feeling of holding a heavy book in one’s hands (am I right fellow bibliophiles?), one cannot

ignore the many advantages that eBooks boast of. Not only are they easily accessible, but are


also considerably cheaper, making them a much better resource for those who otherwise

cannot access literary works.  Hence, one can see that Creative Writing has come a long way. It allows people to express as well as connect with others and themselves in a way no other art form does. So now, I would like to leave you all with a quote I came across by Charles de Lint, “Don't forget - no one else sees the world the way you do, so no one else can tell the stories that you have to tell.”

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