As I was entering my final semester at John Cabot University, I had already completed most of the required courses for my Bachelor’s degree as well as my general electives. I was scheduled to finish up my Communications major with my final senior capstone project, but other than that I was free to choose the rest of my credits. During registration, as I looked through the available classes, I knew I wanted to conclude the year with something interesting, fun, and that wouldn’t be too overwhelming. I glanced at the list of available classes and came across just what I’d had in mind: CW 205: Introduction to Creative Writing. Little did I know that this “easy” class would change my life.
For as long as I can remember, I have been interested in writing. I enjoyed academic written assignments much more than oral presentations or quizzes, and I loved editing school papers for my friends and roommates. I had even developed an interest in journalism after taking a couple of journalism courses within my communications major throughout my time at JCU. Walking into my first day of Creative Writing class, I expected the introductory course to be a breath of fresh air after completing much more “challenging” communications classes.
As it turned out, I was right about the class being enjoyable; however, it ended up challenging me beyond my expectations, and even impacting my future. Professor Minot introduced us to the art of storytelling by initially assigning us simple projects, such as writing a short piece on how our parents met. We then gradually dove deeper and deeper, writing about some of our most vulnerable memories, and expressing ourselves through poetry. By sharing each of our creative pieces with the class, not only did we grow personally as writers, but we formed a wonderful, supportive creative community, where we weren’t afraid to share our innermost thoughts or listen attentively to each other’s experiences.
It was during this course that I first discovered that creative writing can truly act as a form of therapy. Most of the other people in my class were study abroad students whom I probably would have never gotten to know otherwise. Instead of smiling politely to each other in class or around campus, we shared life stories, and truly got the opportunity to understand how each other’s minds worked.
What I thought would be a basic introductory course turned out to occupy a lot of my free time outside of the classroom – and I was happy about it! During the same semester I was also taking a creative writing workshop on travel writing with Professor di Robilant. These two classes really went hand in hand, and I found myself enjoying the time between classes by recording my memories, working on travel writing assignments with tips and pointers from both professors, and I even got in the habit of journaling as I strolled around the city.
Professor Minot taught me that the easiest way to start writing is to simply write what you know. Especially for a creative piece, don’t try to beat around the bush, come up with clever introductions, or phrase things perfectly: just write what you know, be honest, and the rest will follow. I can confidently say that my Introduction to Creative Writing class is what inspired me to start my own personal blog, take up writing poetry, and eventually become a freelance writer today. It also represents one of my happiest memories from John Cabot University.
Alexa Vujaklija (Shearer)
Class of 2015
Grew up in the United States, Germany, the Republic of Georgia, Russia, and Bulgaria