When I declared English as an undergrad, there were three tracks one could choose — English Education, Literature, or Creative Writing (CW). Within the CW track, one then had to decide if they would prefer to pursue a focus in fiction, poetry, or nonfiction. At the time (I was 18), I found fiction the most engaging to both read and to write, so choosing a track seemed a no-brainer.
In retrospect, though, what I learned from this method of streamlining young(er) students into singular focal tracks is that it’s quite possible to come out with a degree thinking your chosen track is the only one in which you are qualified to write.
Conventional wisdom dictates that this is simply not true; however, when, at 21 years old, your huge state school hands you a diploma proclaiming that you have earned a Bachelor’s of Arts in Creative Writing — Fiction Track, it’s tough to usurp the mindset that now, you simply must write fiction. You took the courses and earned the degree. You are “qualified” to be a writer of that which is untrue and will somehow be birthed through the creative canal that is your own, wild mind.
For a spell, I took this to heart. Though I kept a poetry journal on the side, if I sat down to seriously write, it was fictional writing. Some of the stories composed over my years are quite dear to me, and have a lot of personal meaning. They are placeholders of who I was at given moments in my own history. I enjoy going back to them once in a while and rereading them.
As it turns out, however, though I still dabble in fictional writing, my main writing form is poetry. Thankfully, by the time I returned to school for my CW Master’s, I knew poetry was the arena in which I wanted to focus. To date, most of my publication has been poetry, along with a few nonfictional pieces. I have yet to publish any fictional works — despite my “credentials.”
The point is that if you choose to write, you should never feel required to write in only one form. Of late, there has been quite a lot of, ahem, diversification of that which people are writing — which is great! Exploring different forms can only strengthen your writing. Every style, each genre, require varied skills to make them truly effective, readable pieces. Sometimes, you write for emotion; other times, to convey information. Exploring your personal written repertoire should top every writer’s list.
There’s no need to limit your opportunities. If you think you’re a nonfiction writer, try penning a poem! Poets should attempt fiction, and fiction writers need to explore the reality of nonfiction once in a while. If you hate it, no big deal; you can still feel proud that you dipped your proverbial toes into new writing waters.
D. E. Fulford is a writer who composes (mostly) verse on love, overcoming adversity, and pain — among other topics. She is the editor of Get Inside, a publication seeking new writers presenting a first person perspective on, well, most anything. If you’d like to read more, please visit and follow her blog. Thank you for reading!