How Creative Writing Can Benefit Your Career
Words from a recent law school graduate.
The life of a university student is tough — especially if you decide to pick up a specialty like law or medicine.
Law school takes six years of your life away. It’s six years of continuous effort, constant dedication, and heightened stress. It’s six years of being in a pressure cooker environment — one which demands excellence in every action and punishes every tiny mistake.
Putting the long and arduous hours in to study your chosen craft, however, is not the only method by which a university student transforms from a bright individual, brimming with untapped potential, to a creative, productive and powerful force. It takes outside activities, internships, and guidance from mentors for you to become the person you’ve always dreamed of being.
What started as a way to help relieve the stress of my grueling law school routine turned into something that added value to my legal studies: writing.
Writing a story
There is very little difference between writing a manuscript for your upcoming novel and writing professional papers such as university assignments or internship documents. Both require the same broad skill set — to tell a story. In both cases, you must be able to convince the reader that what you’re writing is not only true and compelling, but to also take your readers on a journey, crafting the narrative of the case in a way so satisfying that your reader will not only understand why you came to the answer but also absorb the information in a way that makes it easy for them to read.
For example, when I started writing affidavits during my legal clerkships, I found it easy to convey my message to the reader by following the basics of good writing. Affidavits, in particular, take the form of a story that will be read by the judge as a summary of your client’s side of the case. A well-written affidavit will read like a good story: stating the facts that occurred clearly and concisely — sometimes with a little dramatic flair for emphasis — before coming to a satisfying conclusion that leaves the reader certain about your client’s cause of action and why they believe that they should succeed in the matter.
I realised that writing in my spare time helped me to craft the perfect affidavit. When writing, you’re taught to understand how to pace the story, to slowly reveal the facts that allows the plot to be conveyed in an even manner to the reader with conclusion that leaves the reader solid about how the story in its entirety.
Attention to detail
Editing a finished manuscript takes the same level of concentration, focus and attention to detail as that required when completing a piece of academic or professional work. Whether it is compiling court documents for litigation, writing legal advice for clients, or simply sending out emails to associates, there is little to no tolerance for small mistakes creeping into your everyday tasks.
Although most law students either already have this skill or develop it during their years in law school, some graduate without ever understanding just how discerning one must be in order to spot small errors in legal work. As such, writing and editing a manuscript that you’re passionate and proud of teaches you how to spot grammatical errors, missing periods, and misplaced or misused words. It also allows you to learn how to structure your words, sentences, and paragraphs so that the message you are conveying to your intended reader, whether in a casual or legal setting, is clear and concise.
For example, when I finished writing my novella, ‘Codebreaker’, I didn’t have enough money to employ a professional editor — so I decided to do it myself. Editing and revising by myself helped me spot all of the errors in the manuscript, correct them, replace sentences, and even delete entire paragraphs and painstakingly re-write them again for better effect.
When you’ve already gotten into the habit of correcting your own manuscript, paying more attention to detail in court documents, letters of demands, affidavits and memos of advice will feel familiar, fueling your confidence that your work is maintained at a very high standard and setting the bar for future writing.
Grammar, punctuation and sentence structure
Although casually writing a novel on-and-off is worlds apart from completing your assignments the night before it’s due while chugging your third can of Red Bull, writing in your spare time helps to improve the overall quality of your writing and bring it back to the basics. The lessons learned by spending your time perfecting writing in a more relaxed setting are invaluable to helping you write in a professional setting.
For example, when I first began to start writing, I realised that the method I initially adopted for my writing was not convincing in effectively carrying across the message I wanted to convey to the reader. As such, I strived to find the perfect balance between quality and quantity, to give the reader what they wanted whilst being economical with the words I used. In doing so, this not only improved how I wrote my manuscripts but also gave me a base knowledge of effective writing to understand, intuitively, what needed to be said and how it should be said in legal settings.
Creative writing benefits your career in terms of clear writing, attention to detail, and editing. Write away!