To me, this reads like a rhetorical question. Especially if it refers to some form of creative writing that involves one’s imaginative powers and skills. If you have ever taken a stab at writing something, I am sure you would agree, no matter if you are a novice or an experienced writer with scores of popular writings under your belt.
“The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe,” said Gustave Flaubert, the celebrated French novelist. I couldn’t agree more. But it is not just serendipity that makes it a fascinating journey. And it is not just a way of capturing a combination of the tangible and intangible that makes writing an art form. There’s more to it than that.
Let’s take a closer look at what the ‘more’ is and how it makes writing a form of art.
WHAT WE MEAN BY ART AND BY WRITING
Let’s be clear about the terms first. By art, I don’t mean just a product of human endeavor that has an emotional power or aesthetic value. It goes beyond that. It must be about conveying an important idea, a statement of sorts, that improves human life in unconventional and creative ways that are not obvious or easy to capture.
For the purposes of this article, by writing, I mean its creative form. Writing often takes place in the combined realms of reality and illusion. In the hands of a good author, it becomes a tool that serves as a conduit of our intellectual, imaginative, and transformative power. It is a kind of power that transforms, improves, and rewards.
A good piece of writing stimulates thinking. A good writer is not someone with the right answers. That is the realm of politicians and religious leaders. Rather, a good writer is someone with the right questions. That means you often have to go against the grain to explore uncharted territory.
You become like a tourist blazing a trail and scouring off-the-beaten tracks to make discoveries and get a glimpse of the invisible. Creative writing prompts people to think outside the box. It pushes them out of their comfort zones. It challenges, vexes, and unsettles to achieve the unachievable.
MAKING PEOPLE AND THINGS BETTER
Given the above purpose of writing, it cannot be reduced to any kind of a self-gratifying activity. Don’t get me wrong, creative writing must be as inspiring as it should be beautiful. I don’t mean to discount the value of ingenious word combinations, puns, tropes, or understatements. These are all powerful tools in the arsenal of great writers.
But unless writing takes the reader a step farther on their path of continuous improvement, it might be missing the mark. My literature professor and an avid follower of the best botanic art school in the United States used to ask himself the questions that I often ask myself every time I turn to my next reading. Has this book made me any better than I had been before I read it? Has it made me think or do something differently? Has it led me to make my personal discoveries, however small? If you keep answering no to these questions, you must have misunderstood the book, or you must have picked the wrong one.
PUSHING THE ENVELOPE
‘Writing is nothing more than a guided dream,’ said Jorge Luis Borges, the celebrated Argentine short-story writer, essayist, poet, and translator. Writing helps you become a guide who can not only drive dreams but also make them come true.
Our life is a never-ending struggle to delineate demarcation lines between illusion and reality. What seems true one day may turn out to be ephemeral or short-lived the other day. It is neither easy nor simple to navigate these realms with all sorts of uncertainties and unknowns that go with them. Powerful and creative writers help readers find their way through these intellectual and moral labyrinths.
It is a challenging and multifaceted task to tackle, with lots of “whats” and “whys.” Those who make headway are up for an incredible and rewarding journey that is worth every second spent and every inch covered.
PUTTING PEN TO PAPER
Writing can be a source of endless inspiration, enlightenment, and serendipity. Creative writing is definitely a form of art or, to be more precise, the kind of art that empowers, nurtures, and transforms. At the end of the day, it all boils down to the difference it makes. The difference in one’s personal pursuits and efforts, as well as in terms of improved social interactions.
When writing is a completely egocentric process (which it has every right to be), it cannot go beyond a purely aesthetic or self-gratifying purpose. When it serves a larger goal of broadening one’s worldview, unpicking the invisible, and asking the right questions, it lays down the marker for others to follow.
Author Bio: Barbara Fielder is an acclaimed professional writer. She has served as an evaluator on multiple writing contest panels, and she knows a thing or two about best practices in creative writing. Barbara enjoyed writing her best essay, as well as helping others find their unique writing style. She has authored her works on a broad range of academic and non-academic subjects.