Poetry aside—as you all know, I'm passionate about both science and creative writing, and I've spent quite a few years trying to reconcile these monsters in the same brain.
What's the real difference, anyhow?
Science can be as fanciful as creative writing. When we're brainstorming science project ideas, the best ideas are those that come out of nowhere. Several of my less boring experiments are mixing together random things, waiting a couple hours, and praying that it works. Sort of like how I write a first draft and look back at it. And repeating experiments is just like revisions: over and over again until it works. Sometimes it doesn't, and you try something new.
The more boring experiments? We do something standard from a textbook, true, but we have to write up lab reports and analyses, and the point is to put your own spin on it. Almost like writing prompts, just to get your mind working and give your muse some practice.
Theories and equations and all that boring stuff? No matter how unconventional you are, you still need to your grammar and vocabulary pat down, and learn about protagonists and antagonists and foils and plot structures and whatnot.
You'd expect I write sci-fi. I don't.
I don't even read much sci-fi. Not that I haven't had plot ideas based on my scientific knowledge, but I've often heard that technical experts don't write well in their field. (Not that I'm claiming to be an expert, ahem.) And it's true; while the best sci-fi I've read do a lot of handwaving and random techy terms, I tend to overthink the mechanisms even when just thinking out an idea. Imagine if I wrote an entire book and tried to explain how my bioweapon worked. I bet you'd put down the book in two minutes.
Except you world dominators out there who want to steal my science gizmo, of course.
(By the way, on writing scientists, I highly recommend this article from The Imitation Game screenwriter.)
What I'm saying here is, yes, it's perfectly possible for these two disciplines to overlap. But more than that, at their core, they are the same.
The common ideology is what matters:
The pursuit of the unknown.
Yeah, maybe creative writing and science require very different skills, but isn't what we seek the same? When we bemoan the dreaded blank page, marvel at the space between stars — are we not looking for answers? And aren't the greatest scientists and writers the ones who raise the questions no one else can think of?
After observing a phenomenon, a scientist's hypothesis is a novel not yet consummated. After dreaming a world of magic, a writer's novel is a hypothesis not yet proven. What's so fun about both writing and science is that you can never predict the results.
Takeout: the arts and the sciences are legitimate and interrelated disciplines. Stop treating them otherwise — or judging people based on them.
Do you agree that science and creative writing are similar? How do you reconcile alien concepts in your life?
Share on Twitter?
- How are creative writing and science different? @AlyssaC_HK reconciles these alien concepts. (Click to Tweet)
- .@AlyssaC_HK says creative writing and science are essentially the same. Do you agree? (Click to Tweet)