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What persists are damaging stereotypes about writing and creativity that continue to reinforce troubling dichotomies about the nature of creativity.
Brandt notes that in her hundreds of interviews with families, people rarely remembered writing around parents.
For many families, being a writer is not seen as a valuable trade -- it’s the stuff of fiction.
To many people, if not most, the phrase “creative writing” marks a genre.
A man writes in a garret, his pages lit by the faint glow of a lamp. And he is writing a story -- perhaps about a road trip.
In fact, both Dewey and Mearns were highly critical of the notion of “culture,” which seemed to be a means of discriminating against the masses for abilities that people held due to various privileges and advantages (such as speaking “proper” English).
Myers demonstrates how the rise of creative writing paralleled the rise of post-World War II college enrollments due to the GI Bill, as well as the rise of federal student aid.Most of us learn to laugh off the glaze that comes over people’s faces as we academics in writing studies explain what we, in fact, do write.The problem is that one image of writing dominates the popular imagination and is weighted with value more heavily than all others: writing as “creative writing,” which is treated as if it’s interchangeable with fiction and poetry.Deborah Brandt voiced this powerfully when she pointed out that while the identity label of “reader” is available to most people -- meaning that most readers could confidently say “I’m a reader” -- the identity label of “writer” is not.In her book, Brandt demonstrates how cultural narratives around the importance of reading enable families to understand the value of this act and to support reading as a family value and practice.His son characterizes him as a person who basically sits around a lot.When faculty members aren’t being ridiculed in popular culture, all sorts of other problematic stereotypes are propagated, such as the effectiveness of white teachers or teacher figures inspiring at-risk or inner-city students and/or students of color to be “creative” by writing fiction or poetry.Ideas are spilling madly from his cerebral cortex to the page. I know that is the image in most people’s brains because it is the one I’ve read or heard described hundreds of times by the news media, in popular culture, by writers themselves, in books written by writers on writing, by my students and by friends.It is also the image most strangers (or distant family members) produce when I tell them my field is writing studies, a discipline dedicated to the academic study of writing of all kinds: college writing, digital writing and workplace writing, just to name a few examples.Writing is also associated not with workplace forms but with poetry and fiction.A question that comes to mind is that if a persistent narrative around writing is that the only creative writing is fiction and poetry, and if families do not see themselves as skilled in this way, how can they encourage writing in all of its forms as a family value?