200474875-001It’s November, which means that I am in the midst of approximately 50000 papers and my thesis. My desk is strewn with research, hefty literary tomes, and my MLA handbook. In other words, my brain is in full-blown academic writing mode. I think in complex syntax and $500 dollar words, and analyze everything I see and hear. Everything I write, even a Facebook post, sounds like a term paper in my head. Unfortunately, this also carries over into my creative writing. I try to write dialogue, but every character sounds like they’re writing research papers, submitting articles for publication in The Modern Language Review, or reading Dostoevsky. The tone of every story is also ridiculously pretentious and stuffy…it all sounds like something Ann Radcliffe would have written. My current struggle is figuring out how to switch between modes so that I can work on my creative writing even during my busy research weeks. The only way I’ve discovered so far is completely shutting off the academic side of my brain by watching some ridiculous TV show (Gossip Girl, anyone?), and then I can switch into my creative mode. The only problem is that I often have difficulty getting back into the mood to write my thesis or other major literary type things…it can take hours to return to the right mindset, which is very frustrating. Still, it scratches an itch for now. Any suggestions? Anyone else have this issue?

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5 thoughts on “Separating Fiction from Academia: Word Choice and Tone

  1. I always had that problem with my creative non-fiction minor. I was supposed to aim for somewhere between creative and academic writing and I always ended up sounding a little too academic and formal. I never found a solution. Apparently writing something that’s non-fiction and enjoyable to read is not my forte.

  2. It will not be quick but any practice of deliberate mental discipline will help eventually. As any other discipline it takes months to years of practice to be good, but one needs to start sometime.

  3. I’ve always though you had a lot in your plate, and I’ve wondered how you were able to seperate your aloof creative side with your analytical academic side. Taking on the challenges of what you’re studying and trying to write fiction’s got to be tough. When I was immersed in writing classes, I never wrote creative fiction for myself (writing assignments only);I couldn’t find the energy after studying an writing for class. My suggestion for you might be to read for a half hour in whatever media you are going to dive into writing. For example, if you’re wanting to sit down and write fiction, read someone fun like Jim Butcher to put your mind in fun fiction narrative mode. If you’re about to write for class, read some of the academia you enjoy reading that’s along the lines of what you’re studying at the moment. This method works well for me before I sit down to write a section of a story. I never pick up the author’s style that I’m reading–I maintain my own voice–but it helps put me in an excellent mood for writing fun narrative. I hope this helps. By the way, I really wanted to participate in the challenge on listing the plot points of The Equalizer, but I just couldn’t find the time.

  4. That stuffy language is probably the main reason I decided not to go back to grad school! Good luck with the frame shifting

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