With writing technique and creativity, does writing more creatively let you skip over writing with technique?

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Answered by: Garrett, An Expert in the Fiction Writing - General Category
I often run into the issue of writing technique and creativity in editing fiction. It's only natural that the artistic mind wants to be free from constraints technique tries to maliciously place upon it. What place does a rule of writing have on the creative process, on our art? In truth, the rules of writing, that is, of grammar, don't matter much in themselves. The problem many have with this conflict between writing technique and creativity is an inability to reconcile the two; it is a misunderstanding of the usefulness of technique in processing creativity.

Let me phrase this idea another way: Technique does not inhibit creativity; technique is the lens through which you may focus your creativity. In the field of fiction writing, it is assumed you possess the necessary amount of creativity to come up with ideas for your stories. This is a given in your favor. What is not given is your ability to express those fantastic ideas. Yes, all the rules are there to be broken, but you can't break the rules with purpose if you didn't know the rules to begin with. Only through process and craft (as opposed to creativity and art) are the rules of writing, the techniques manuals and guides attempt to teach you, able to be broken.

It's not that good ideas are secondary to good technique, but technique helps channel creativity. The creative mind is chaotic, discordant with a thousand and one ideas. To look at technique as the antithesis of creativity is to miss the point of the written word. This is a wholly forgiving artform in which you are allowed to edit and revise. Fiction writing isn't about who has the best idea or who can come up with the next big thing. It's about who can craft the most pleasing story with the most genuine characters. Let your technique give your creativity shape.

A similar topic is style vs technique, and the answer is much the same here. Many will justify breaking writing rules for the sake of style. The answer to creativity vs technique isn't as applicable to style vs technique because of another misunderstanding; style is technique. The willing suspension of a 'standardized style of fiction' is a technique of writing; it is a method by which a writer achieves a specific goal. While the answer is not as simple, I like to ask myself the following whenever my 'style' is challenged: Am I being clear, consistent, and concise while achieving my goal in maintaining my chosen style? If the answer is yes, then I can hope the style is at least acceptable by those terms.

The discussion of technique in fiction writing stems partially from the fact that most anyone who is literate can write. This is quite unique to the art of writing. No one looks at painting, music, or dance in the same way. "If I can write a sentence, then I can write a story." This would not follow in other arts. "I can apply a brush to canvas, so I can paint," or "I can move my feet, so I can dance." It takes just as much practice, training, and technique to hone your skills as a writer as any other discipline, artistic or otherwise. Skipping the basics (the techniques all the masters use) is a misstep not because you aren't a creative individual, but because you are disarming yourself of valuable tools.

Don't do yourself a disservice by dismissing writing technique because it is limiting your creativity or hampering your style, but neither should you let it do so. Meld the two. A fiction writer should not be afraid to use all the tools we are provided.

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