Originality and creativity in academic writing
Surprisingly enough, in the academic world, originality is highly prized. Some original notion or angle of approach should be part of any First Class essay. It follows that to be original you need a certain amount of creativity in how you write and how you think.
Making the link between an exceptionally well-written piece of primary text and the normal student essay might seem a fruitless task. But the fact remains that an elegantly constructed, creatively thought-out and original essay shares many qualities, on a basic level, with any other piece of good writing.
There is also the factor of the writer's voice and persona. Everything you write has something of you about it, whether you like it or not. We reveal ourselves in what we write, in both essays and less formal works. You might as well use this to your advantage, making the best of what natural style you have. The tone of a piece also reveals much about your attitude to the subject. Again, you can use this to your advantage, if you are aware of the potential of these innate, individual qualities.
One of the problems of writing at university is that it is often seen by students as an unwelcome task; a kind of ordeal, rather than an opportunity to be creative. Writing creatively outside the curriculum can likewise help you develop your skills with writing, with construction and with appreciation of other writers. There is nothing like trying to write a sonnet to make you appreciate how good Petrarch is at it, for example.
Another way of getting creativity and originality into your academic life is by reading good critics, as well as writers. Literary essays are another good place to look, to see how the best writers do non-fiction. Oxford University Press publishes The Oxford Book of Essays. The Penguin Book of Twentieth Century Essays is another good place to start. Read 'quality' newspapers' review sections and find writers of journalistic essays you admire.
Getting involved in writing and reading, and in appreciating and enjoying good writing is part of study. The benefits for your whole life are obvious. A 'form-filling' attitude to education is a waste of time. Get a life. Get involved.
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