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Creative vs. Research Writing, and Why It Matters



Hey y’all! I’m Sophie Hawkins! I’m a tutor at the Writing Center, majoring in psychology with minors in English and Biology.


I adore creative writing. It’s my passion, my longing, a way for me to unwind and bask in my own creative powers. Getting to create new, unfathomable worlds is where I feel most at home. On the other hand...there’s research writing. My bane. My nemesis. To me, it’s dull and tedious, requiring hours spent poring over dusty library tomes in the creepy Leland Speed basement. I feel like a monk, and not in a fun way. But I will begrudgingly admit it has its merits, especially in college, where we have no choice but to write academically.


Research is where we learn the things that make the world around us less unfamiliar. Maybe this exposes me as a nerd, but I love perusing our school’s databases, just to look up random topics that intrigue me. It’s amazing the things you can learn just from a simple search, and I think it’s something we need to take greater advantage of. We have more information at our fingertips than literally everyone who has ever existed before us.


Library database link here.


But how often do we use these resources? While not as enthralling as creative writing, I find that doing a research paper stretches my mind in thoroughly unexpected ways. Usually, I come away utterly in awe of what people are capable of, and how intricate and multi-faceted our existence is. I am begging you, for the preservation of our collective sanities, to please pick up a book or read some articles and learn something new.


However, creative writing has much to teach us as well. While not focused on facts and figures, being creative is just another way of learning how to be. When reading good fiction, I notice that it is always revealing human nature in all of its rancid and glorious complexity; I come away from the last page knowing more about myself. Please read The Lord of the Rings or Shakespeare, and then come back and talk to me about friendship or grief or love.


Good writing will change you. It’s why we need a new generation of creatives who want to create. But we also need people who are curious and want to learn about our world. Saving what matters requires both creatives and researchers working in tandem to write things that matter. Especially now, in a world that’s starved for meaning, it takes artists and writers of all kinds to imbue it with truth.


Whatever writing discipline you gravitate towards, do it. I promise any little thing matters. Writing takes on many forms and serves many purposes, but above all, it asks us to think well. When you apply yourself to your research writing and throw yourself into creative writing, you’ll discover more about what you think, why you believe, and how you say things!


With that, good luck and happy writing — research, creative, or otherwise!


The Writing Center is located on the first floor of the Leland Speed Library across from the Gore Art Gallery.


Find the Writing Center homepage here.

Schedule your appointment here!


Come and see us during our hours of operation:

Monday-Thursday: 9am - 8pm

Friday: 9am - 3pm

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