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2

In writing, is it more important to create or to perfect?

What is more important when writing:
The Creative Process?
or
The perfection of structure, language usage, and grammar?

  • I think it would be interesting to approach this topic by examining the creative process in its entirety, i.e. the importance of creativity versus perfection when coming up with the idea in the first place, creativity versus perfection when writing a first draft and creativity versus perfection when editing. – PhoebeLupton 1 month ago
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  • I tend to agree with Phoebe's comments. In my case when I write the first draft it's very much in the 'stream of consciousness' vein, just letting it all flow out and getting the ideas down on paper (or screen) before they vanish. If we edit as we go then we tend to over-edit and be too self-critical. My advice is write with your 'right brain', then edit with your 'left brain'. Oh, and a good cup of coffee helps too :) – Amyus 1 month ago
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  • I agree with the comments above; the creative process and the perfection of structure complement each other and each act is more useful than the other at different stages of the writing process. However, I think that there's another interesting question implied by this topic: which draft features the writer's most sincere and authentic voice: the intuitive, free-flowing, and spontaneous first draft, or the meticulously crafted final draft? – Vertov.Isou 1 month ago
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  • Nice topic, but perhaps a bit too broad? I'd narrow in on a subtopic that deals with both creation and perfecting, such as how and when to make your inner editor be quiet. – Stephanie M. 1 month ago
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  • Forget perfection, you'll never write. I've seen colleagues over the years waiting to do their magnus opus and they still haven't written. Writing leads to better writing and better writing to even better writing. – Joseph Cernik 2 weeks ago
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  • This is a good question, I agree with Joseph Cernik that if you're aiming for perfection than you'll never write. You'd scare yourself off before you even pick the pen up. With saying that it is still important to always edit and re-edit your work. And Remember keep on writing! – Kylie27 5 days ago
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Drugs and the Creative Process

‘In Xanadu did Kubla Khan. A stately pleasure-dome decree…’. It’s said that Samuel Taylor Coleridge composed his classic poem whilst under the influence of Laudanum (an alcoholic tincture of Opium). Similarly such great names as Bram Stoker, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron had ongoing ‘relationships’ with the same. What was once considered acceptable behaviour amongst the creative is now legislated against, often for good reason, but many of us today start our daily routine with our drug of choice, i.e. coffee. Narcotics have had a profound influence on the creative mind across the centuries and will, no doubt, continue to do so in the future. Consider why the creative mind sometimes requires or even craves external stimulus and why we are frequently willing to ignore drug usage among the creative when enjoying the fruits of their labour.

  • You bring up an interesting topic. I myself enjoy caffeine, I use it as a tool. Likewise, other substances such as, LSD, DMT or psilocybin mushroom are sometimes used as creative tools. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs for example used LSD as a creative tool. Drug use today is looked down upon. I think that some substances can be used to help with art but within the right context and environment. – LucaTatulli 2 months ago
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  • Being more specific would be useful - are you asking about narcotics/opiates only, or including psychedelics such as LSD and psilocybin, or stimulants such as methamphetamines, not to mention other classes of substances? What exactly do you mean by 'drug usage'?? – Sarah Pearce 2 months ago
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  • Like Sarah Pearce, I was left wondering what the focus of the essay might be: all drugs? narcotics? stimulants? I would also encourage anyone who takes up this topic to consider the roles of drugs (esp. stimulants and hallucinogens) in the writings of the Beats. – JamesBKelley 2 months ago
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  • I have so many questions. Are you considering alcohol as a 'drug'? If so, I don't think we 'ignore' alcohol usage amongst creatives. I would also question using the word 'ignore' - why must we ignore drug usage? The question speaks of evident bias against 'drugs' (however you are defining this term) - I suggest that the more interesting questions revolve around the role of various substances in the evolution of human culture and creativity... – Sarah Pearce 2 months ago
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Taken by LucaTatulli (PM) 2 months ago.
2

Approaching "Survival" in Zombie Apocalypses

Zombie apocalypse stories in TV, film, etc. deal with "survival" in some way or form. How do stories like The Walking Dead, Resident Evil, World War Z, Shaun of the Dead, The Girl With All the Gifts and others deal with this theme in thought-provoking ways? Are zombie apocalypse stories defined by a basic need to survive, or can we approach them in new, creative ways?

  • I think an interesting way to take this, at least in regards to "the basic need to survive" in these shows, would be to examine the ways in which the survival narratives can align with or oppose certain capitalist imperatives. while it isn't a zombie apocalypse story, Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" very intentionally aligns imperatives of survival with capitalism, and perhaps similar stories that also feature zombies could do something similar. whether or not this ends up condoning/promoting or dissuading viewers from follows this ethos of survival, and what that means, might be an interesting way to take this topic. – ees 2 months ago
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  • It’s useful to consider what the point of survival is. Is survival about continuing the human race? Is it about finding a solution to the problem (like in I Am Legend)? We all know that we have a survival instinct. Evolution explains it with our innate desire to keep the species going. It would be interesting to consider this from different viewpoints, particularly a Christian one. – tclaytor 2 months ago
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1

Can Writing Fanfiction Have Benefits?

While writing fanfiction can be time better spent on one’s own original creative endeavours, are there benefits? I’ve read fanfics that have elevated original works in interesting ways, showing a deep understanding for characterisation, narrative structure, and significantly, the pitfalls those original works might have fallen into. So, can writing fanfiction teach us to be critical and inventive in *what* we write, therefore benefiting how we construct our own original works? Or can its normalisation of appropriation do more harm than good? (Then again, what goes in a post-modern society?)

  • I get that you're referring more to "artistic benefits" than "financial benefits," but the author might find this helpful nonetheless: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CsTN5ZUnypQ – ProtoCanon 2 months ago
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  • When writing on this topic, it will be helpful to think about how writing fanfiction is a stepping stone to becoming a real author, if that's your goal. Although one does not have to create their own characters or setting, the story line is completely up to them and by having already existing characters, it helps the writing to narrow down exactly what the fanfiction will be about. – Mandymay123 2 months ago
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  • Like many things, FanFiction does have benefits, but when writing on this topic, make sure to emphasise how some negatives can impact the writer and how the writer can improve on them. For example, FanFiction writers generally forget to describe the character in detail - and if you plan to write your own work in the future, getting into the habit of skimming your writing isn't great. Make sure the reader is aware of the negatives and in turn knowing the negatives can be beneficial. – DylanThomas 2 months ago
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  • I think Fanfiction is a very helpful way to step into writing for those who don’t know where to start however, there are negatives: ie. using other people’s characters and settings can detriment creativity to an extent. – AshTrenwith 2 months ago
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  • This is a really interesting question and it actually falls in line with some research I'm currently doing so my PhD. I think to just tack on to what the previous people have commented, pros and cons are key. It can certainly help people develop their own skills, researching and developing characters, practicing structuring stories, experimenting with styles etc. I think it might be helpful also to think about how AUs allow fanfiction authors some real creative freedom to take previously existing characters into whole new worlds of their own. And note how many ideas that originated as fanfiction have gone on to be successful. Dare I say Fifty Shades of Grey? Its not a great example but its there. Plus, a number of published YA writers have started as fanfiction authors. (Cassandra Clare for instance has at least three successful series and a popular tv adaptation now). However, of course I think it's important to note its limitations. As someone already noted, in your own work you can't take the readership's existing knowledge of the characters or worlds for granted. The question of whether people get stuck into certain fanfiction tropes might also be interesting (how many coffee shop AUs are there?). Also, and I don't know if this would be too much of a sidetrack, but perhaps it may be worth thinking about the ethical issues with some fanfiction - real person fiction for instance can be a bit of an iffy thing. – BethLJones 2 months ago
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2

The Art of Academic Writing

As an academic writer, I am aware of many "myths" about academic writing, which many people call rules. But what are the rules? Or should we abolish the notion of rules and become writers in our own voice rather than being so "academic"?

  • Part of the discussion needs to be on the contested idea of what academic writing actually is and how it differs between not only disciplines but also countries. – SaraiMW 2 months ago
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  • I agree with Sarai, this is a wonderful topic, but it will need to be broken down if you really want to get into the nitty gritty. Each country is different, but even the disciplines are completely different. For example: I'm an Anthropology major. With this, we use Chicago 17 or AAA to cite sources. In our wriitng, we use heavy theory and heavy concepts of our own voice with only case studies to have as a way to prove our point. This is what our data is. Now if you look at Psychology, they use APA to cite sources. Theirs has less of a 'voice' and is more about having the data of research and hard numbers to prove a point. I think this would be really good to do, just a lot of work and making sure you're organized. – AuthorAsh 2 months ago
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  • Thanks for the feedback. I agree that different countries and disciplines have different styles. my research is Business, as part of the social sciences. What is really contestable is the divide between quantitative and qualitative research and how to write it. Quantitative is similar to Psychology, while qualitative research has more "voice". – jdumay 2 months ago
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  • I definitely would agree that it’s key to note that there are different kinds of academic writing. I write in history and film and that sometimes that can involve writing almost narratively and it’s perfectly okay to be self-reflexive and sometimes even use the much dreaded ‘I’. This I know is frowned upon in other disciplines but they might write in ways that I would never dream of. Point being, there isn’t really one cohesive set of rules for ‘academic writing’, there’s a set for just about every discipline. So maybe yes, perhaps there should be more room to be experimental or flexible but on the flip side, sometimes these rules exist for each discipline for them to be comprehensible and cohesive. It’s also important perhaps to consider the fact that you have to publish and journals often have very strict rules about how the paper should be written and structured. If it is to change it needs to be across the board. – Beth Jones 2 months ago
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  • Hi Beth, Thanks for your insight. The use of the dreaded "I" is one myth I was referring to in my original post. As a social scientist, I use "I" or "we" in articles when I need to show how a person discovered something and then makes an argument based on evidence. What is annoying to me is when someone writes "the research shows" as if the "the research" is a person. What is wrong with, "Our analysis shows" or "I argue" and support the argument with data from the research? – jdumay 2 months ago
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  • I've written academically and think of it as coherent, well-developed, supported by substance, well researched, in order words what you expect of good writing in general. – Joseph Cernik 2 weeks ago
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3

What it takes to compete as a freelance writer

Help college students and new writers to navigate in this competitive market.

  • As as career advisor, I see this all of the time with my students. I'd like to lend helpful suggestions to the writer on this topic. – charisewilson 2 months ago
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  • I would also love to read and write more about this topic! I'm currently studying in a professional writing program, and all of my classmates have so much talent but are struggling to navigate the world of freelancing, especially at the entry level. – MeganAlms 2 months ago
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  • I would also like to know how to get started freelancing. I am an academic writer and I don't get paid or receive royalties. I would like to reverse that situation. – jdumay 2 months ago
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  • I've recently graduated from college and am currently enrolled in a professional program so this topic resonates with me! It sounds like the topic is pretty broad and general right now. So make sure you narrow it down on specifics! You can address any controversies/stereotypes that new writers have to overcome or focus on what it takes to spout out original work. I know that many other writers my age are constantly working hard to find their voice and personal style - another issue that you can address with this topic. All in all, good idea but needs to be more specific. – jay 2 months ago
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  • I just graduated from college and this is a question that I've been asking myself for a while. – larrymlease 2 months ago
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  • Writer's Market (most recent year available) Implement Google Search for contests and more. – denaelerian 2 months ago
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  • I would love to know how to get into freelance writing as a current college student hoping to make it as a journalist. – AshTrenwith 2 months ago
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  • I would say passion. Any freelance writer must have the drive and passion to write independently. – LucaTatulli 2 months ago
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  • There are several sites and companies for freelancing, however the most lucrative and legitimate would be Upwork. You have to be willing to raise yourself above the cometition, but dont get cocky. If you value writing and you're good at the craft, give it a try. – PoweredxJarvis 2 months ago
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11

Where should we get our knowledge?

I’m sitting in a public metropolitan library as I type this, something I haven’t done since before I attended college. There are tens of thousands of books wrapped in clear protective plastic on metal shelves. Those walking around me and sitting near me range from young students to elderly men and women. In a time of advanced technology and "doing-it-yourself" mentality, they all came here to do their own private work.

I’m curious as our culture changes, how do we continue to grow and learn? Why do the age-old mediums, like libraries and communicating with each other, stay relevant.

I would love to hear what others think. Please consider this is me throwing some ideas against the wall and seeing what sticks!

  • Great topic. I know that professional librarians have discussed it a lot, and libraries today are often community resource centers (with computers and internet, with workshops, etc.) as they are book collections. – JamesBKelley 7 months ago
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  • First and foremost, it's important for one to have an open, clear mind. A mind in which does not discriminate and hold prejudice. With an open mind, one can gather knowledge through personal experience. Through personal experience, you are most likely to obtain the most meaningful knowledge, something that you understand and you can relate to. – paigethai 7 months ago
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  • As our cultures continue to change, we grow and learn because of our innate curiosity. The age-old mediums, like libraries and communicating with each other, stay relevant due to our longing to meet others, share, change and pass on our knowledge. Humans cannot help but attract to each other like magnets to share personal experiences, et cetera and then from these smaller or larger human groups, they repel like magnets to share and reshape the new knowledge they have accumulated. The pattern of accumulation and dissemination of information from one book or person to many others crosses the boundaries of time and space to advance our civilisations. – RipperWriter 6 months ago
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  • Love this topic. I think it may be interesting, even important, to also explore how these mediums change with us in this 'time of advanced technology'. A pre-internet, pre-screens metropolitan library would differ from the modern library. However, something like the 'snail mail' letter is much rarer and more highly-valued now than when it was simply the best and fastest way to communicate. It's fascinating to see how things have evolved in either their use or value as we continue to embrace technology more and more. The growth is exponential now, so we have the opportunity to see history change before our very eyes in a way that is more apparent than ever before. – Analot 4 months ago
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  • As someone who works in libraries, this is a vital question to me. What makes libraries remain relevant? I would say community. Libraries are increasingly becoming community hubs - bookable group rooms, author readings, playdates for kids and new moms, etc. They are the places where we make connections. Sometimes it's technological - helping older people learn Facebook to connect with family - other times it's "real life" connections - book clubs, etc. Fascinating topic! Thanks for sharing! – nathanl 2 months ago
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  • Libraries are inspirational. My favourite library is the 5th Avenue Library in New York City. I go there whenever I am in New York and write... It inspires me to be productive, and creative. – jdumay 2 months ago
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  • As a former library assistant, I can attest to the fact that learning in libraries is still a huge thing! I love the environment, it's a place for learning and getting work done. I'd love to read and write more about this topic! – Kendra 2 months ago
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4

Suspension of Disbelief: How Far Should We Take It?

Many of today’s most popular stories require some suspension of disbelief to be enjoyed, and yet there are some who believe there is a line that suspension of disbelief shouldn’t cross. I’m not sure where that line is, but I have found my suspension "breaking" and disrupting the story sometimes. This is especially true for children’s and YA novels. For example, I love A Little Princess but as an adult, I find myself questioning, "Isn’t Sara’s rescue extremely contrived? Am I, a modern reader, supposed to believe this to any extent?" Same for Harry Potter–the adult side of me continually says, "Deep cover or not, how did Severus Snape ever manage to keep his job? Has Hogwarts never heard of ethical hiring practices or HR?" Same for Narnia–"You’re telling me these four children maintained what is essentially a double life for years, and then just died/disappeared at the end of The Last Battle, and no one said a word?"

Of course, many of these books, and adult books too, are fantasies and can play by looser rules in terms of disbelief suspension. But even in those cases, questions remain. Even today’s children are reluctant to suspend disbelief because they know more than ever about how the world around them operates. My big question is, has the amount of information and analysis we’re privy to in the modern world made us too cynical to enjoy a story that demands we suspend disbelief? Have we suspended it too much or too little? How can an author do suspension of disbelief well? Discuss.

  • The concept of suspended belief I think also needs to be considered from the intended audience, for example the children's literature you outlined I think only needs to meet the suspended belief of its age group. However, I would also add that both Tolkien and Lewis had a lot to say about the importance of accepting the genre as part of suspending disbelief - as in that by accepting it is a fantasy genre means that real life concerns should be overlooked. Yet I too agree that I struggle with this at times, yet less often in literature where I am more likely to allow an author "literary license," but rather in film I struggle with this when I feel they are stretching beyond the "realistic." I think too with the visual we are so aware of what visually something looks like in real life, or should fit the parameters of, that it is harder to suspend disbelief. Added to this is most people's understanding of costuming, make-up and CGI. In regards to the second point it is worth acknowledging that different genres have different levels of suspension, and then target audience may influence this. However, at the end of the day I think most of the time it is good writing and an amazing narrative that carries you through. – SaraiMW 3 months ago
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  • Suspension of disbelief is also a core theatrical convention that implies a level of cognitive dissonance from the audience; they know there are lighting rigs and stage doors and one space within which the action occurs, but leave this knowledge at the door. Conversely, actors imagine a "fourth wall" between themselves and the audience who subsequently become flies on the wall. That is true of realism. Other non-realistic styles of drama shatter this convention and want the constructed elements to be made as overt as possible to achieve the desired audience effect. In this way, suspension of disbelief may be seen to be a function of specific genres. Didactic, "Brechtian" theatre does this well through direct audience address, placards, non-linear narratives and costume changes on stage. Such conventions work to enhance the experience of the story and can also apply to novels. In Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughter House, the convention of a linear narrative is shattered. The audience embrace this as fundamental in conveying the disenfranchised, mentally ill central character. Can audiences of movies and readers of literature rather embrace the "gaps" in suspension of disbelief? – danielleraffaele 3 months ago
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