Writing is Not a Craft

When writing is your job–rather, when any job is your job, you can never let yourself stop because of anything that happens. Like any work, you must keep going. And like any work, you should keep getting better and better at it. You should become more methodical about it. You should become a master of it. And whatever you do, you will never be a true master, because every discipline has boundless horizons. Painting, cooking, engineering, medicine, teaching–the learning to be had is endless.

These days, in the creative writing industry, online teachers and advisers offer training in honing the craft of creating a good story. Creative writers are craftsmen, fighting and upstream battle against the difficulties of traditional publishing and the preconceptions of society. Not wrong; however, I would rather be the girl who works on stories she wrote in 70-page, spiral bound black notebooks than a craftswoman. Why?

Creative writing requires excellent design, just like anything–hence, craft. However, it is not merely “an occupation requiring special skills,” as my handy Webster’s New Pocket Dictionary states. It’s primarily an art, “aesthetic work.” Beautiful creations–beautiful worlds even–are what the writer should aim for, not a well-crafted story.

What’s the difference between a craft and an art? Function. What is its purpose? Is it to say something, or replicate something, or whatever possible purpose art could have (I don’t know it all)? Or is it fulfilling a practical need, such as a lamp, a bookcase, or a chair? Creating lamps takes artistry, and creating stories takes craftsmanship (or better, design,) but they are not of the same category! Both fulfill natural human needs, and creative writing sates the need of the soul for stories, which is not practical, but no less dignified than the need for a chair.