Please give me some ideas on how to write an essay on the following question:
"By learning to write creatively, we learn to read critically." Discuss with reference to one text you have studied. I would just like a breakdown of the question and how to answer it.
It's hard to tell exactly what your professor is looking for without knowing what texts you will be referencing. However, here is a general breakdown of what the question is asking:
When you learn to write creatively, as in fiction writing, you are learning the craft of writing. This means you are learning how to create interesting characters, build tension, control plot arcs, create sensible linear plots, create rising action, have a climax in your story, have falling action, and plot resolution. As you become more comfortable in how to craft a piece of creative work, you become more secure in these skills. Eventually, these skills transfer to your critical thinking, and when you read a story you will begin to notice how the author crafted the stories and what techniques the author implemented.
For example, you may read a book and notice a character is acting strangely. Rather than simply discounting this information and continuing to read, you may pause and consider, why is this character acting strangely? What is the author trying to tell us with the character's behavior? What might this character end up doing in future chapters? All of these mental checks and questions are part of a critical thinking process you go through as you read. Creative writing often helps you hone and refine your critical reading eye because when you write creatively, you must turn this eye to your own writing.
One issue the assignment is intended to address is the issue of the gap between writing and criticism. While some critics have also been distinguished creative writers (T.S. Eliot, for example) many of the concerns of criticism are somewhat different from those of writers. For example, much of literary criticism in the twenty-first century has focused on cultural critique, such as issues of race, class, and gender, while writers are often more concerned with technique in the actual process of writing. This means that your experience as a writer helps you look at works from a writer's point of view.
The first issue is that trying something yourself gives you a sense of its difficulty. Once you have struggled to write a sonnet or villanelle, you appreciate how difficult it is to write one which gets the meter and rhyme correct while still making sense. You begin to understand technical issues like how difficult it is to rely excessively on participles when using dactylic meters in English, and thus the comparative rarity of English dactyls.
Your work as a creative writer will help you see how a writer makes choices when writing. For example, when you criticize a story, you can look at the technical reasons why an author chose a certain type of narrator and whether that is a good or bad choice. Thus your essay should focus on how your own creative writing experiences have made your more aware of writing technique.