CREATIVE WRITING AS A MEDIUM TO CREATE SELF

By Ana Melissa Merlo Romero

A SUMMATIVE PROJECT

Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Education

Under the Supervision of Margaret Macintyre Latta Lincoln, NE

June 2005

CREATIVE WRITING AS A MEDIUM TO CREATE SELF

ABSTRACT
Ana Melissa Merlo Romero, M. Ed. University of Nebraska, 2005 Adviser: Margaret Macintyre Latta

This practitioner-based inquiry shows how the process of creative writing holds the potency to guide students into their own world of self-understanding. Given that adolescence is a time for searching for one´s identity, creative writing can be a medium to help students find and reinvent themselves. For the purpose of this inquiry, twenty poems written by ten students were explored. These students wrote their poems during a lesson purposefully designed to foster identity creation. Two main goals were stated as intentions of this inquiry. The first one was to lead students to analyze, face and comprehend the concepts of identity, self understanding, inner voice, and change, throughout their own process of creative writing. As a consequence of the main goal of this inquiry, the second goal was to lead students to the understanding that in order to be humanly successful it is necessary to gain knowledge about self in relation to others. The inquiry concludes that teachers might consider utilizing creative writing as a medium to lead students to recognize and understand their identities. The teacher’s role and responsibility within this process is critical and cannot be disregarded.

Contenido
CREATIVE WRITING AS A MEDIUM TO CREATE SELF............................................1 ABSTRACT........................................................................................................... 2 Contenido............................................................................................................ 3 Introduction.........................................................................................................6 My Creative Writing.........................................................................................6 Creative Writing as a Turning Point..................................................................6 The Process of Creativity.................................................................................7 Literature Review................................................................................................8 Creativity......................................................................................................... 8 Creative Writing...............................................................................................9 Teachers and The Process of Creative Writing...............................................10 Student’s Creative Writing.............................................................................11 The Voice Behind Creative Writing.................................................................12 Methodology..................................................................................................... 13 I. The Inquiry.................................................................................................14 The Starting Points......................................................................................14 The Climate in the Classroom.....................................................................15 The Process.................................................................................................15 II. The Insides within the Process of Creative Writing.....................................16 The Before.................................................................................................. 17 The Making................................................................................................. 19 The After.....................................................................................................20 Analysis and Interpretation of the Data............................................................22 Identity...........................................................................................................23 Space and Role of the Inner Voice..............................................................24 Self-understanding .....................................................................................26 Identification...............................................................................................28 Transformation...........................................................................................29 Conclusions and Implications............................................................................31 Teachers........................................................................................................ 32 Students.........................................................................................................33 School and Community..................................................................................34

................References and Sources....36 .................................................................

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This process implies an unusual freedom that can go back and forth in their minds looking for elements that are valuable to them. All the poems were placed in the hall for everybody to read. Even though this statement is metaphoric. these elements should lead them to express themselves through their writing. She had dark and curly hair. 1997). brown and enigmatic eyes. Mrs. Juanita Ardón. A few minutes a day are enough to involve students in a creative process. Bruner (1979) calls it the “surprise” element. and most importantly. and when this space takes place and discipline is involved in the process. if teachers provide students with the freedom and discipline they need. Barone (1993) has stated this wonderfully when he says “the narrative that is written as a human being constructs herself through action is the story of the self” (p. My math skills were getting worse. and found ways to make us love things too. our inner self starts to respond to the elements of our internal and external world (Pateman.Introduction My Creative Writing I remember my first day in second grade so clearly. Students just need the space where their imagination can fly and travel around the world through readings.238). it has a great deal of validity. . How did she manage that? I don’t know for sure. and still are. was like an angel. Ardón created the space for imagination to grow in our classroom. it is true. but I won the first prize in a Mother’s Day poetry contest that year. Even though this statement can sound broad and difficult to achieve. My teacher. Certainly Mrs. cinnamon skin color. She just loved to read and write. But what I do know is that my classmates and I started to read almost everything that she gave us. Students are full of previous experiences they can find useful in creative writing. Creative Writing as a Turning Point I believe creative writing can be a turning point in the students’ way of seeing life. we started to feel this increasing desire to search everywhere for new readings. and this beautiful and unforgettable smile. Mine was in the center surrounded by a golden ribbon. Therefore.

1993). Ardón treated us like we were professional writers. The Process of Creativity In my 18 years of experience working as a Spanish teacher for high school students. She used to say “not all has been written there is always room for one more verse”. Through all my life as a student and as a professional she has been there . anger. I will examine the consequences of asking students to attend to their writing process for their learning and for myself as their teacher. Why does this happen? Does the creative process have to be painful or unwanted? What must teachers do in order to provide students with the appropriate atmosphere for creativity? What are the basic skills students need to successfully write a piece? Is there a psychological aspect the teacher must attend to? Are all teachers capable of involving students in the process of creative writing? What are the implications of creative writing that students have to deal with? How can creative writing help teachers know their students? What kinds of changes can a process of creative writing help make in a student or in a teacher? Do students want to be known through their writings? How can teachers help students deal with what they have written or implied? Is there room for parents in the process of creative writing? Perhaps the questions I raise will find answers through this practitioner-based inquiry. but on many occasions forced them to do it. I never took the chance or gave myself the opportunity to think formally: what are the causes and motivations that work better for students to write? I know for a fact that I have encouraged my students to read and write. In my second grade there was always an atmosphere of cordiality and respect for one another. while others found themselves involved so easily in the creative writing process. and students can discover a way to think profoundly about their own being. needs and humor. loneliness. and the writing didn’t turn out fluent or sincere. In a simple autobiographical sketch poem. students can state their love. Mrs. I will focus my attention to a specific writing lesson with high school students. For some students writing a piece of narrative or a short poem was a painful experience. Then she would give us some words and we would start to write a group poem. and this is something so valuable for opening a door for communication (Ayers.I a creative writing process teachers and parents can find an extraordinary way to read and learn about their students’ lives.

Juanita Ardón. and this personal activity leads to a personal vision of the world that is unique for everyone. carry the personal touch of our creativity. its relation to writing. the way we reach goals. originality. interpretations. rules. the process by which one utilizes creative ability. forms. or the like and to create meaningful new ideas.asking for my progress. it was an integral part of her teaching. Probably Mrs. Creativity Creativity is almost implicit in every action that human beings perform. Csikszentmihalyi (1996) states that every individual has his own way of being creative. According to The WordIQ-Dictionary Directory creativity “can be defined as the main tool to develop innovation (…) the word immediately conjours associations with artistic endeavors and writing. the way we perceive the world. reading my papers and encouraging me to keep writing. methods. According to Random House Unabridged Dictionary. For me as a teacher. I examine the literature for insights regarding the nature of creativity. creativity “is the ability to transcend traditional ideas. this is the moment when creative writing as a process begins to have a body and soul. To be immersed in a process of creativity implies that a person will . The way we speak. There is vast space for emotional discovery in the creative process. Literature Review Key concepts seem critical to my inquiry. and the teacher’s role within creative contexts for student writing and the resulting consequences for student creativity and voice.” The word creativity bears an implication of constructing a novelty. progressiveness. etc. patters. didn’t have to think of creative writing as a formal process.” It seems creativity entails attention to process. a natural teacher. or imagination. and the way we express ourselves. relationships. Let’s define creativity for the purpose of this topic. the way we dress. When a person is highly motivated to do something and pours herself into a small or big object. her own soul will be part of her creation.

whether poetry or narrative. Creative Writing Creative Writing as defined by the WK Encyclopedia (2003) “is a term used to distinguish certain types of writing form writing in general. implies the possibility of a communication process.15). a dimension of acceptance or rejection and as catalyst for insight from others. genre fiction) is not excluded from academic consideration or dismissed as trivial.use all the elements that surround her and will use her internal world of previous experiences and memories as well. The lack of specificity of the term is partly intentional. The process of creation constitutes an intrinsic component in the life of any human being. creativity is relevant to solving real life problems. designed to make the process of writing accessible to everyone and to ensure that nontraditional.216). The moment of creation involves tenderness and vulnerability. technicians. Scientists. Creativity implies a continuous advancement in sciences. “Creativity is important at both the individual and societal levels. or traditionally low-status writing (for example. At the individual level. In his article he makes connections and lists variables that imply a possible narrative explanation of the communicative process. This concept . although this process is sometimes unconscious. adding the element of fragility that is present in the moment of creation. As Sak (2004) expresses. The process of creativity is a crucial element in the development of the world as we know it. The emotions and sensations are the engine of the creative process. Human beings take advantage of every source of inspiration. not weak but delicate. arts and human development. Pelias (2003) proposes an existing relationship between creative writing and the process of communication. At the societal level.” A creative writing piece. 1999). A complementary perspective is described by Latta (2004). It is that moment where fragility exists and transformation takes place. we find inspiration in real life. and artists are propelled by the power of creativity in order to build and give form to their ideas and dreams. it is in a social atmosphere where it will have different dimensions. creative individuals pioneer progress in science and technology and the beauty arts” (p. Even though creativity has an individualistic tone. experimental writing. when she portrays the process of creation in a very particular way. moldable (Oxford Dictionary. Sharples (1999) describes the process of writing as “a conscious and creative communication with materials to achieve a human effect” (p. writing by marginalized social groups. Normally. Fragility refers to a condition of being susceptible to possible changes.

implies the communicational effect that a piece of writing can reach. something to somebody (p.20). They also elaborate their idea that writing involves the use of the discourse. To develop an effective process of creative writing is mostly in teachers’ hands. In order to give students the opportunity to develop a set of useful skills. practice of design and visual vocabulary to develop student creative writing. as Bruner (1979) thinks. and images in order to have a product or result that will generate its own meaning. it involves someone teaching. teachers have to be creative too. However. It visualizes the process that an artist. in this case a student. Orr and Blythman (2002) examine the connections between creative writing and its approach to design. Greene (1981) puts it this way “teaching is a triadic undertaking. Teachers have to be fully prepared to face and to create the appropriate environment for the process of creative writing. This experience is also useful in broadening the vision of the world that a person can have (Creative Writing 20 Online). engages in during the moment of creation. In order to create this engagement between students and the creative writing process. choice” (p. “invention is discernment. teachers must intentionally provoke this undertaking to happen. and sometimes for the reader as well. design. They suggest that writing is in a way. Creative writing causes change for the person who is writing. It also helps to present different ways and perspectives. The creative process.284)”. Teachers and The Process of Creative Writing The process of creative writing is inherent to the learning process. discover and develop their own ideas and thoughts. and make connections between one’s own writing and the writing of others. Teachers have to help students to develop many skills that they will use in the creative process. Ugur (2004) mentions the importance of teachers’ understanding of creativity. Teachers have to clear the way for students to see the choices they have and the different and exciting ways they can express themselves with their writing. theme. In his article he mentions that studies have shown that teachers have . The creative process involves the student in a decision making route (Creative Writing 20). topic. teachers should distinguish between the creative process and the writing process. content. The writing process reveals the stages of a writing assignment that all students are required to complete. The process of creative writing encourages people to explore. Students have to think about structure. on the other hand has much more intangible characteristics.

how it manifests and how it is important. stage by stage within their own mind. an in human civilization in general” (p. and students start to ascend. With that foundation.insufficient knowledge of the characteristics of creative students. (2004) the different attempts for instructional reforms in schools have not always worked as planned because teachers don’t have the skills. going to spaces that they didn’t know they had or could attain. Students in their condition of recipients of knowledge are just waiting for instructions or guides that will tell them what to do and how to do it.34). because when one is creating something. Having our students immersed in this process is to give them the opportunity to find themselves in the process of creation. Bruner (1979) talks about the vulnerability of the creative process. a short story. because they will see themselves in each piece. or a title. and his confrontation obliges the writer to think systematically. they may ignore teaching for creativity. Student’s Creative Writing Eisner (1991) perceives the process of writing as a confrontation between the writer and the world. He also sees the process of writing as a force that leads the writer “to reflect in an organized and focused way on what it is you want to say. Sara (2000) describes several activities teachers can experiment with to develop the process of creative writing. According to Patthey-Chavez et al. an article. Teachers also should have the capacity and skills that the process of creative writing requires. loss of creative talent is reflected in scientific and artistic advancements in particular. In her article she mentions how students are willing to participate in the creative writing process and share their writing with the entire world. the silent atmosphere that surrounds every moment of creation. a banner.18). He also believes that “the act of a man creating is the act of a whole man” (p. they eventually can emulate the creative process. and also the tendency that teachers have to focus only on students’ academic characteristics. When teachers create the space for creative writing to take place. or the knowledge to make valuable improvement in the learning environments. Words written confront you and give the opportunity to think again” (p. a joke. the moment of truth comes. Are teachers prepared to develop the creative behavior of their students? Ugur states that “when teachers do not know what creativity is. one pours his inner self into it. The process of creation begins.2). and students have been prepared for that moment. . It doesn’t matter whether the creation is a poem. thereafter. a sign.

They are writing about themes they are not allowed to use at school. Another study conducted by Blintz and Shelton (2004) explains how the implementation in class of the written conversation method has encouraged students to express themselves by questioning each other’s thoughts and feelings. action. This inner voice converts the process of creative writing in a process of communication. it is important to read the lines written by students. an expressed opinion or choice. The Voice Behind Creative Writing According to Bruner (1979) the process of creation is an enterprise that reinvents our own being. If students haven’t been taught how to engage themselves in the process of creative writing. In the RH Dictionary. A creative writing piece has a voice. a unique expression of ideas. they are opening a door to communication. As Barone (1993) comments. and then express themselves with freedom and pride. Every piece that is written bears a part of the writer’s soul. In the cited article by Williams (2004) he describes how boys are defying the school standards on creative writing by writing creative and inventive pieces at home. “the obsession with standardized educational outcomes serves to weaken incentives for the fundamental educational project of developing each student’s uniqueness as an individual human being” (p. Students want to be heard. How revealing is this? Teachers need to accept the fact that. When students are able to write a poem or a piece of narrative through the process of creative writing. He also argues that schools are being standardized at all levels.Schools have a great deal of responsibility in the development of the students’ creative writing. but more importantly. Let’s define what voice implies in the process of creative writing. the person or agency through which something is expressed or revealed. but need to learn the means to do so. such as violence. In every written piece there is a voice pining to be heard. teachers cannot expect that the process will come along by itself. and death.” Such a definition clearly implies the importance of listening to the students’ voices. This uniqueness that Barone is talking about plays the most important role in the student’s process of creative writing. expression in spoken or written words.237). or by other means. Students are eager to show what they are doing or what they are able to do. . how to read between those lines. by any means. the right to present and receive consideration of one’s desires or opinions. voice is defined as “something likened to speech as conveying impressions to the mind. That is why texts written by students have an important part of them in the words.

they just need to know the process of communication through creative writing. Methodology . my practitioner inquiry will examine artifacts of students’ creative writing exploring student’s voices and their willingness to express themselves through their words. identity and self. Let us take the chance to hear the voice behind their creative writing. With the findings and enlighten gain from this literature review about creative writing.

I will closely examine different approaches to this inquiry in the research literature regarding the process of creative writing. I will describe how as a practitioner. improve and explain my practice as a teacher using the process of creative writing as a base. and more importantly. I came to understand my research methodology as it evolved into increasingly collaborative relationships between my students and me. directly or indirectly. I seek to understand. and I will explore some of the consideration that arises. discovery. The Inquiry In this section I will show how. The first one is based on my perspective as a teacher and how I have fostered my students’ concept of creativity. in the process of growing my own practitionerbased inquiry. The second starting point is my students’ perceptions of the process of creative writing. I ask how a methodology. the implications in their own development as students and also as human beings. relates with other inquiries. when I start to write some ideas I feel like I can create something good out of them” Javier 11 th Grade I. my students’ perceptions of the process. as well as the process of learning what they have written through the reaction of others. I hope to create more pathways than barriers by creating ways of knowing about the process of creative writing. between the students and their own process of creativity. The Starting Points My practitioner-based inquiry about the process of creative writing has various starting points. Methods necessary for judging rigor and quality emerged as I checked the relevance of my interpretations about students’ creative writing. change. which holds the process of creation. But suddenly. My search is to understand the process of self-identification. peer relationships. and growth of values as centrally important. Fourth.“When I am writing a poem I feel like I don’t know how to write. A third starting point in my inquiry is confirming the relevance that the process of creative writing has in helping my students understand their own ways of seeing the world. I seek to understand how my own beliefs on the creative process have affected. which may consequently be better understood. so I can enhance my practices . I acknowledge the fact that once a creative writing piece is complete this marks the beginning of another learning process.

I will examine different analysis techniques that may be useful in the process of understanding a selection of my students’ creative writing. Motivation is natural. When students are motivated. The uniqueness of the process of creative writing rests in each student’s way of seeing the world. A variety of motivational techniques that meet my students’ interests in order to encourage them to write. and trustworthiness. Motivation constitutes the greatest impetus in the process of creativity. although I have not studied in depth their creative . Motivation grows a creative disposition within students. Therefore the openness students can reach in their creative writing depends to a large degree on my ability to see and attend to their originality. The climate in my classroom has to be one of caring. Data Collection I will explore the inside voices in 20 poems written by 10 students that are attending tenth and eleventh grade at a High School. persuasion is imposed. I am certain insights will be gained from my teaching and learning practices. utilizing the process of creative writing with my students. More important is my ability to hear their voices and help them to find a way to express themselves in writing regarding what they are feeling or thinking. respect. When the students are getting into the classroom they must feel in its atmosphere an open invitation to create. I pretty much their way of writing and presenting their ideas. Without motivation and desire. It is in the teachers’ hands to enable motivation. I have been these students teacher since seventh grade.toward facilitating greater understanding of self and others. it is necessary to take into account several factors and elements. The Process In this practitioner-based inquiry I will use pseudonyms in order to protect my students’ identities. Teachers need to know the difference between motivation and persuasion. Students have different ways to access the process of creation that is why each of them must feel the freedom to express themselves in his /her own way. the process of creation cannot exist. The Climate in the Classroom In order to develop the process of creative writing in any classroom. the disposition toward creativity can flow naturally.

ideas. and emotions that allow me to see beyond the mere writing. II. Using the starting points identified. I will read each poem looking for unique themes. and my own perceptions about what they were writing. The Insides within the Process of Creative Writing “Why was this book written? . my analysis will include assumptions and interpretations that will allow me to explore and encounter my students’ voices. Since the process of creative writing involves senses and emotions. I will document the process throughout carefully recording all observations in field notes. Aims This inquiry will give me the opportunity to improve my analysis and interpretation skills related to the understanding of my students’ creative writing. key ideas. is to be able to help my students find the way to express themselves freely through their writing and learn more about their own selves through what they have written. besides enhancing my own practice.writing process. Common themes and important differences will be discussed from the perspective of each starting point. I take notes as I read each poem looking for similarities and differences among their writing. I will explore the poems looking for answers to the following questions: • • • • • • • • • What is the theme or idea in this poem? Can I identify senses or emotions in this poem? What is the relationship between the theme and the expression of ideas? Can I find traces of my students’ identity in this poem? Is this poem difficult to understand? Does this poem present my student as I know him/her? What similarities and differences can I perceive between this poems and its writer’s daily behavior? What is the thematic conception that each student presents? What is my student trying to tell his/her audience with this poem? My ultimate goal with this inquiry.

When did it begin? It was all very simple The thoughts came from within It wasn’t written for intellects It wasn’t written for fame It was written to express my feelings The pain today that still remains…” I believe the act of reading always brings things together. The scheme seems easy. my technical side is looking for a special language. I am finding a different world of ideas and perceptions. These activities are very particular for each of them. schemes. local writers and also their schoolmates. rhythm. There are several activities that they have made in order to collect information. formats. and the after. beliefs. opinions. The Before The process of creative writing relies on previous experiences students bring to their writing. Adding to their own experiences in life. are telling me about them. patterns. and they have looked around for inspiration or focus. The fact I am taking the time to deeply read their poems have changed my approach to both poem and students. Just three steps to analyze: the before. the making. For some students the process of creative writing takes more time. They have read poems written by famous international writers. the poems. my students. The following are some of the activities my students usually do before they begin to write: . feelings and judgments pop out of my mind concomitantly as I immerse myself in the reading of my student’s poems. My perspective starts to change and my mind becomes open to seeing what they. in this study. I can assure that the time of reading is a time of discovery and communion. I stop the battle between what I seek to find and what I am actually finding. Instead of that. ideas or perspectives about the topic they have selected to write about. Through my reading. The exciting part is to really get myself immersed in the writing. I group my ideas and come out with a scheme that provides insights into my students’ process of creative writing. Thoughts. the use of literacy methods or anything that could indicate to me that my students are assimilating understandings and poetry. students have some instruction in writing methods and techniques.

peer pressure. saying something to someone that cannot be said in a face to face conversation. Recall travel experiences. On the other hand. at the same time. friends. validation. liberation. for some of them exploring the outside world can be a frustrating experience. Read magazines and newspapers. That is why some students choose to immerse themselves in their personal inside world. In the process of creative writing. Ask questions. like vacation trips. These personal choice they made before . inspiration. enemies. such as: grades. Read poems. Reflect on human relationships. and understanding themselves. or costumes of others. dreams. Learn about new events. relief. What motivates my students to write or not to write? In this first step of the process I can lust several reasons that my students and I have discussed many times before they start to write. Any of the above can be the trigger for a student to write and. stating their own ideas. Adopt a point of view. Create an imaginary listener for their poetry. publicity. recognition. that same issue could be the opposite for another student. Recall childhood memories. Observe the world around them. among many others. Talk to people. as I mentioned early in this paper. family issues. Read fairy tales or children’s literature. What motivates each student is very personal.• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Explore immediate surroundings Investigate thoughts. motivation is a key element. family members. Helping students to access ideas important to them and to finding an entry into writing becomes my role as a teacher. critique. Imagine different scenarios. By thinking through these activities and actions students come to a better understanding of what they want to say in a poem. expressing their feelings.

Sometimes I have expected more from some of them. There are some students really committed to the process of writing. Everybody bends head toward paper and write something. some are glowing with a smile of satisfaction. but it is very nice to hear that anyway. They ask me to find a popular song. My students are reading what they have written the day before. Usually they have a very critical eye the second day. the inner and unique voice their problems will have. I feel very satisfied when some of them ask me to stay another period with them.the writing will be the personal touch. Some students are using their pens to write. I speak loudly and issue a call for concentration. I can see how important it is to allow students to linger with ideas and play with their writing to foster engagement. combing their hair. others are playing with them using desks as drums. and the process of creative writing will continue. I walk around the class. or feel proud and satisfied with their work. Some of them have started to erase words or phrases. The Making Papers and pens are ready. After the selection of the theme a brainstorm technique is used for everyone to choose the main ideas or concepts they will be writing about. I have to accept that sometimes I underestimate my students’ writing skills. or smoking them like a cigar. watching and listening carefully. We have been caught by the bell. They ask me not to because I make them feel nervous. which I can’t. They don’t like the classic music that is being played on the stereo. and some are becoming dense. or cleaning their nails with the caps. The atmosphere in the classroom is nice and quiet. Some students are sharing their thoughts and bringing new ideas to their topics. The next day has come. some of them don’t find a good way to start. The theme or topic they will write about is selected in this stage of the process of creative writing. Some faces are giving signs of struggle. I have promised not to interfere in their writing unless they ask me to. Some students are ready. In my little walk I have read some verses that really move me. and I have found wonderful surprises from the least expected. The process of creative writing allows them to set their own pace. There are moments of deep silence. laugh about what they have written. Now everybody is writing. Others have slept thinking about their . Pens become a really strange instrument. some verses have been written. some are not. change titles. Even though they know what to do. and moments of noisy laughs when someone says aloud a funny verse.

poems and dreaming about the perfect verse or title. the tone. A large group of students are feeling proud of the work they have done. Some students feel like their poems are still incomplete. I can see they are smiling and proud. and the rhymes of the poems will be seen from a different perspective. We have a few moments for sharing comments. I am in search of the trace my students have left in their writing. antonyms. just a few ideas. The time to write begins and they feel more confident after our little chat. Several kinds of dictionaries are available for them to use any time they need to. I group them into my briefcase and. even though I have told them. According to our schedule they should finish their poems in this period. others are very quiet and focused in their work. how to shorten a verse and things like that. some critiques. to what they are feeling and how the process of creative writing is helping them to express those feelings. Some of them don’t know how to deal with this uncertainty. more important. there is always a little group that doesn’t know how to continue. Some of them are asking me for synonyms. the structure. What my students don’t realize. ideas. the rhythm. This time I won’t pay attention to the technical parts that we have learned about in class. compliments. However. but they work to have a final product. When a student is proud for what he or she has accomplished she or he seems to be taller and more alive. help with titles. The form. The After It is a very exciting moment when I start to read my students’ poems. a search for the inner voice of their poems. and advice. Those students are protecting their poems like guards. is that this time I will look at their poems in a very particular way. Ten minutes before the end of the period I ask them to do the final touches to their poems. Now I have the poems in my hands. Usually those protected poems are extraordinary pieces of art. They are very involved in their processes of writing. as usually happen to me I can’t wait to get home and start to read them. . I will begin with an exploration. They don’t want anybody to read their poems until they are finished. words to rhyme. They haven’t shared their entire work. I expect these traces will lead me to a better understanding of my students’ ways of thinking and. They have learned in previous experiences with processes of creative writing that it is common to feel like their work is not totally done.

I quote some verses to show better my students’ feelings: Search for self: “I have been a child. Some common themes are identified.From my readings U can perceive my students’ personalities. In some cases I can tell who the writer is without even seeing the name at the bottom. / or would I be weaker?” . but a large part of parents might be taken by surprise of the content of the poems. a student. in some poems it is difficult for me to recognize who the author is. and some original themes as well. a dreamer / in my search for happiness…” Belief in oneself: “… let’s not give in/ to the dark ages/ we’ll fly more freely/ when the time comes/ if we listen to / what dances in our hearts…” Identity: “Impressing on the world / my identity…” Death: “I see the outside/ the outside world/ that I will no longer see when I am dead. their parents or me. how oh how? / She was taken from us but not by someone. Through the process of creative writing my students are feeling the freedom to talk about issues that are important to them. However. I have read several of my 14-year old son’s poems. Have parents ever read their kids’ poems? Do I ever take the parents into account in the process of creative writing? Very often the answer for those two questions is no. In the course of the reading I am finding some themes that tell me something about the life issues my students are facing. Issues of their lives are hard to talk about to someone else. and in some of them I can’t see my son as the author. I wonder who knows better my students’ personalities. I am a mother of a teenager. / She took her own life… why was it done? / to have that rope around her neck… she must have been sad” Lost friendship: “I still want you in my life as crazy as that seems / I want you to catch me when I fall” First kiss: “… his lips meet mine / and I feel the sensation / no longer must I wait / to give into the sweet temptation…” Parent’s death: “I ask myself if cancer had not killed my dad / would he be here? Would I be the same. My reflections begin to appear in my notes. Some of them may be able to recognize their kids through the readings of the poems. I know for a fact that parents are very important in my students’ lives. It will be the same for my students’ parents.” Suicide: “How could this have happened. This makes me realize how little teachers know about their students. but can be expressed in a poem through their writing. and I think I know him very well.

/ and not a time to overlook in haste. a purpose. / It might not have meaning.” The value of a friend and the value of a relationship are very high in the youth world. but it has might. Analysis and Interpretation of the Data The process of analysis and interpretation of the data collected for this inquirybased project has been an amazing and surprising journey.” Silence: “It’s a moment for reflection.Betrayal: “… or should I give a call? /We both need some time to heal. not a quiz. fears and struggles. however it is obvious to me that my students are finding through the process of creative writing a free way to express their anxieties. I can see the happiness of some students. These twenty . From my students’ poems I can perceive their need to understand the world they are living in. / a poetry. and a right.

the sun or the senses influence alteration and pauses. family. polished. However. The wind. as teachers. Finally. Therefore. the exploration of the identities of this group of students. desires. students’ identities can be discovered in various dimensions of their poems. idiosyncrasy. or wounded. Relationships are the ground in which identities are defined. through the process of creative writing. They don’t know how to define themselves and struggle trying to find the right words that can tell more or less what or who they are. Through the process of creative writing they have found a way to define themselves. which in the end reveals who they are becoming. basic structures build. Some are precise and others vague. My student’s identities appear in their poems like wonderful webs. behaviors. and is a part of the writer’s own being. The process of creative writing is giving me. among many others.poems written by ten students have taken on lives of their own. First. The complex implications of the concept of identity. not by listing personal characteristics but writing down their own way of thinking about life issues. From previous academic and social activities I have found that my students don’t have a clear knowledge of what identity is. will be the central topic of this analysis. or rhyme and rhythm. and intellectuality. nothing is exact but has a great deal sameness. or imply their secret aspirations that even they do not know they have. It also creates the space for them to express what is good or wrong in their lives. After my exploration-analysis of these poems I can see how the process of creative writing allows my students to be free. Could an identity be wounded? My answer is yes. as a teacher. Every poem has a personal mark. have lead me to understand that in the process of creative writing. Second. a fragile skeleton is filled carefully. Every space and every fine thread has the same proportions. the spider rests. Someone’s identity in a poem is comparable to a spider’s web. this exploration focused on recognizing and connecting the poems’ inner voices with the students’ identities. what is fair or painful for them. the rain. Proud of her work she waits for her prey. when the web is done. The prey’s presence will prove the web’s capacity to attract. a special touch. Some of them are stronger than others. In this analysis I have found four . More than analyzing the format. we know that our students’ identities can be formed in the interaction of one another. verse composition. a new way to search and find signs of my students’ identities. to catch or let go. Some are bright and others obscure. Identity Throughout history the notion of identity has been related to several concepts such as: culture. society.

On the other hand. we don’t give too much space for our inner voice to come out. the inner voice is there. the youth in its eager state to live life is looking forward for anything that can help him or her to realize who she or he is. and letting space for the inner voice to be heard. These paths are: the space and role of the inner voice. act like a door to the writer’s soul. the inside voice is explicit or implicit . waiting for a way to come out and speak. identification. The poems. and the action of putting the words and verses together in certain order that makes sense for the writer. this necessity to hear ourselves is a worldwide issue. The process of creative writing provides them with this wanted space in which their inner voice can be expressed and understood. As adults. family. The outside will be the structure of the poem. social life. The inner voice is an old term. It is a fact that we don’t take time to look inside ourselves and find out what we really are or want. used mostly in spiritual and psychological sense.paths that lead to a space which all together encloses the essence of the writer’s identity. within us. On the other hand. This concept is not far from what I believe it is for this provides them with this wanted space. the language selection. Space and Role of the Inner Voice Lie with me on lullaby clouds And dance among fairies Sigh with me in summertime flowers For once. There is no time to take a look inside us in order to analyze or reorient our thoughts and actions. written through the process of creative writing. don’t be despairing Forget your bearings And fly away Patricia We are living in a time where people with different perspectives are chattering about getting in touch with the inner self. This world is every day going faster and faster. and transformation. selfunderstanding. or religion. in our different dimensions at work. In a way. I could say that there is an outside and inside in each poem. In my way of thinking. However. the spiritual and psychological sides of the students are found in their writing. What they believe and how they react toward life’s issues are expressed in this inner voice we are talking about.

The readers will find traces of the writers’ identity as well. Quietly and in deep ways students start trying to recognize and understand what is inside of him/her. In the process of creative writing the blank paper is not the space. to make choices and decisions about what they want to be or not. but when they find out that this process is persona. and this will be true for readers too. the inside journey is less complicated. Once this space has been discovered and understood. Fortunately the inner voice in the poem will let the writer discover or reinforce his or her own identity. Just imagine an empty space waiting to be filled. Sometime students don’t want to see what they have inside. The process of creative writing is giving students the opportunity to see inside themselves.content through which the writer is exposing his or her feelings and personal opinions. . to seek inside their own world. the student begins a journey to his or her own interior world. which within a collusive summoned environment and associated conditions is seeking to be realized in a poem. First. The inner voice is finding its way out. It will be expressed in words and verses that amalgamate in a poem telling something about the writer. Giving students the space to be creative is giving them the opportunity to reveal themselves in unexpected ways. the role of the inner voice takes place. the chance to express their feelings and ideas about their own life. and more importantly. This space for the inner voice to take place is in the students’ minds. The process of creative writing provides the proper space for the inner voice to take place. The second step realizing the inner voice’s role is expression. at least no literally. The inner voice’s role emerges in two steps.

In . Learning about and through others with the teacher’s guidance helps students see similarities and differences they have with one another. In the verses that introduced this section of this paper. Would the old wounds reappear? I can’t stand to cause you pain. be bad in math. be lonely. play an instrument. Through the process of creative writing teachers can help students find a way of knowing more about themselves. How do I know what is right? How can I ease my fears? If I do call you again. Creative writing is a wonderful tool teachers have to lead students to understanding who they are. and what they want to be in life. read books. This kind of writing exercise makes students think about what they do. it can be seen how Georgina understood how important a particular friendship was for her. in part. Play a sport. and the fears she held. Even though she presents unanswered question. One way to accomplish this self-realization is to have students write an autobiographic poem or poetic narrative. these roles are just the things that a person usually does. Another way to guide our students to greater self-understanding is to write about others. social or religious groups. be part of a family. this list can be endless. Hurting you again is my worst fear! Georgina Self-understanding is one’s cognitive representation of the self. If we see carefully. belong to cultural. earn straight As. on the various roles he/she plays in life that define who they are. have friends. she has accepted she has doubts that can be freely expressed in a poem. Everybody has roles or activities that are inherent to their selves. but every little thing we do is part of our self. A student’s self-understanding is based. what they like and dislike about themselves.Self-understanding An echo fades into the night As our friendship disappears.

and finally and hopefully they can see a projection of their identities in their poems. but even more concerned about what will happen with them after life. In this way students can acknowledge some generalizations and particularities. That means that through the process of creative writing students can have a better picture of who we are. This kind of question helps students to realize the value of life and the beliefs and principals they have in their lives. using their lives as construction material. In my experience it is common that in this stage of the process of creative writing students want to talk about their conditions as human beings. That means that through the process of creative writing students can have a better picture of themselves. and helps us to compose a picture of who we are. Sometimes we teachers underestimate the internal power that each student has to find to build or reshape identities. . They want to know if death is physical or spiritual. Each of us already has our personal understanding of what a person is. The most wanted and feared topic is death. Students place the beginning and the end of life with regard to their points of view. Through the process of creative writing students can create representations of their actual selves. which obviously varies from one individual to another. and who they want to be in the future. how they are changing. Through this writing activity about oneself and understanding. and their past selves. The poetic pieces that usually arise with this theme are very thoughtful and diverse. their ideal selves. students build or at least find out the components of their identities. This process of comparison and selection is really helpful for them to know who they are. created by them.this process the creative writing assists students not only to have an encounter with their own selves. They are worried about breathing their last breath. but also to use their ability to poetically write about it.

I have been a child. a student. a fool In my longing for truth. a dreamer In my search for happiness I have been a poet. and Who I am Javier . a friend. happiness. a slave.Identification I have been a king. a tyrant. a lover of life To show the world. a hero To find out who I am I have been a warrior. truth.

such as: favorite singer. consciously or unconsciously. or to realize that their idols don’t have much to offer. This experience leads students to reaffirm the quality of their choices. of the characteristics of another person or group of persons. The poems at this stage have a great deal of profound thoughts. In this process of comparison. and is usually expressed in their writing. actor. parents. If the case is the latter. Generally students choose to identify themselves with their idols. political figures and antagonist personalities as well This process of identification is very interesting for students and for teachers as well. Once they have chosen one or two personalities with whom they feel some kind of connections. comic figures. or to discover new characteristics they can develop in order to be the person they want to be. The identification process is basically a comparison between one’s identity and others’ identities. they write a list of their idol’s characteristics. Students may feel identification with some characteristics but dislike others. they want to have. Given that identification is the attribution to oneself. there is discontent on the students’ faces and disappointment in their souls. through the process of creative writing students can list those characteristics and select the ones they are willing to incorporate into their own being. But now I am A courageous butterfly . When the process of creative writing begins poems and ideas are a little vague and inconsistent. Students research the idol they have chosen.The path of identification in the process of creative writing helps students to find out characteristics they have. they choose human rights defenders. actress. in some cases religious leaders. students write about important persons in their lives. The feeling of completeness disappears. Students find out that there are many blank spaces they can’t fill out because they don’t know with certainty who their idols are. After that the real search begins. and rarely but not uncommonly. model. Transformation I used to be A fearful caterpillar Missing out on all the Fantastic opportunities out there. grandparents.

These verses only can be written after a deep process of thinking. heart or character. hear their own voice. and accomplishment. she experiences a process of transformation. who they are. Transformation is a conversion. they have acknowledged who they are in the self-understanding stage. but what I do expect is some insights into themselvesThe path of transformation in the process of creative writing allows them to see there is hope in life that changes can be made once the source of fulfillment or emptiness has been found in their inner self. they have been selective and have compared themselves with others in a process of identification. and boundaries. acceptance. limits. It is wonderful to understand how students can find themselves through their writing. and perhaps changes students’ identities. a renovation. The process of creative writing leads them through a journey that embraces the objectives of recognition.Without limits and boundaries Only goals to accomplish Paola The fourth path in the students’ understanding of their identity is transformation. concepts and characteristics that are being shaped in the writer’s identity. can find a new way to see their past and present life. Throughout this study I have found that during the process of creative writing my students are gaining more conscious ideas and thoughts about themselves. a revolution. and in this final stage we can see traces of transformation. Her identity is being shaped with her understanding and acceptance of the concepts of fear. but also the new concepts of opportunities. Their writings now can reflect who they were. a change in the way of seeing things and it can be a change of conditions. This process of transformation is so personal that every student experiences it in his or her own way and time. As Paola says in a beautiful metaphor in the verses above. Changes are obvious in some cases and almost unperceived in others. and express their feelings. transformation through the process of creative writing can be perceived in a student’s change of disposition. We know for a fact that changes lead to transformation. make decision to be virtuous and have a better future. courage. In my experience. and who . They have found the space for their inner voice to be heard. Transformation is the act or process of change in a structure appearance or character. searching and selecting ideas. Throughout this process students have followed an interesting path. I don’t expect that every student will experience a profound transformation in their identity. missing. goals.

The process of creativity is a catalyst for change.. To take actions and make conscious changes in our behaviors or in our ways of seeing life is an excellent way to construct or reconstruct. Wonderfully. and the positive aspects enhanced. are numerous. invent or reinvent self. creative writing in this particular case of inquiry-based research. Their identities are becoming more defined and shaped through the process of creative writing being the transformative medium. lack of identity. through the process of creative writing several toxic aspects of the school culture (e. The main goal of this inquiry is to prove that teachers have many ways to engage students in creative writing and help them to do their best. makes me want to go deeper and immerse myself in the process of .they want to be.g. These changes can be oriented to improve the students’ lives and the school life as well. incongruity in the reinforcement of character traits) can be removed. Conclusions and Implications The implications derived from the process of creativity. The self consciousness that Barone (1993) implies.

Teachers have the opportunity to implement writing activities that significantly transform students’ approaches to the learning process.creative writing. and school and community. to live profoundly their youth. In their article. it is necessary to take a chance. Using the process of creative writing as a turning point in students’ lives. Creative writing needs teacher to be open to a new world of knowledge. Latta and Olafson (2005) have analyzed the complexity that exists within the developing sense of self. the students’ personal lives. Teachers According to Patthey-Chavez et al (2004) writing activities could easily be introduced in a wide variety of classrooms. I will examine each element in depth. Latta and Olafson also stated that “valuing and validating identities in the making requires learning spaces be created. moreover. Teachers must face the fact that it is necessary to guide students to find themselves in order to foster pedagogical relationships. the role they play. As .2). but if we want students to be successful not just academically but in life. the route to self-understanding. There are several elements within the school life that can be touched by the power of the process of creative writing. leads them to a new route in their way. and nurtured…” (p. many of them see it as a risk. to define their identities. sustained. not all teachers are able to take this opportunity. and the crucial importance of the relationships they develop. However. and I couldn’t agree more. students. using it as a medium to help students find themselves. This is my experience as evidenced in this practitioner inquiry. such as: teachers. The creation of these spaces allows students and teachers to be aware of who they are. Not everybody is ready for this openness.

the use that teachers can make of this information is entirely in their hands. responsibility and input in this regard. However. Teachers must be aware of their power.10). As Pateman (1997) says.Ugur (2004) states “teacher attitudes. Students just need the space to let their imagination grow. Students With no doubt in my mind. The amount and quality of the information that teacher get through students’ creative writing is invaluable. beliefs. It is in the hands of the teachers to choose the proper method or activity that will foster creativity in students’ lives. students are the greatest recipients of the benefits of the process of creative writing. and in the passion they can show in every step of the learning process. in their love for what they do. and classrooms practices are deemed to be of crucial influence in the development of students’ creativity” (p. students are eager to use their .

Students want to be respected and for some of them. or displayed in a hall. to concretize or renovate. When students start to feel that . Some students may find themselves vulnerable to exposition or criticism. School and Community The process of creative writing can enhance positive attitudes toward life in the members of the school and the community. or their parents. In my experience I have seen my students grow in knowledge of themselves. Again. which in turn. just the fact of seeing their work published in the school newspaper. to have the freedom that allows them to find their inner voices to be heard. to reinvent. allows them to grow in their academic accomplishments. For some students. the process of creative writing can be seen as an intrusion into their personal lives. is enough to encourage them to continue writing and more importantly. and make the process of creativity more inviting and trustworthy to them. not every student has the essential disposition that creative writing needs to be successful in this process of self-understanding. Greater confidence in self as a writer was evidenced across all participants. teachers must find ways to protect vulnerable students from this.abilities to fill in the blanks. to be a role model for others. The fragments of my students’ poems that I have showed earlier in this work are my best proof of the great opportunities that the process of creative writing gives in order to lead students to show their inner selves. However.

the knowledge of themselves is growing. Many teachers will need to face their own livers first in order to reach their students. but what amazed me the most is to see how positive changes are always taking place in my students’ lives. my life was touched by a wonderful teacher in the early years of my school life. businesses. I have seen positive changes in my community. This optimism toward life can bring a new atmosphere that will allow great changes to take place. and the level of self-understanding is increasing. churches. Through many writing activities she led us to discover our best qualities and to deal with our sometimes atypical behaviors. Using the process of creative writing in classrooms as a medium to create self is a gift of hope for those who are seeking a better way to achieve their academic and human precious goals. I am glad my teacher took the risk to help us achieve a great level of selfunderstanding. the spirit of the community. It is a challenge for teachers to take this risk. they are able to project their optimism to others. and social groups among others. suddenly perhaps. neighbors. in one way or another. parents. As I have mentioned in the introduction on this inquiry-based research project. will positively influence. . School members. will start to see changes in those young people that.

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