Diary of a Creative Writing PhD Student: Creatify, Decreatify The etymology of a Word

The other day I was crafting an exercise for my Creative Writing seminar. The assignment was to have students take otherwise non-creative writing text and infuse it with creative writing tools, techniques and devices. I called the process: creatifying. 

I introduced the task: "Creatify a piece of non-creative writing..."


"Right, it means..."

Between sips of flavored coffee, I defined it like it was a real word. 

"The next step of the process is to de-creatify a piece of creative writing..."

I explained the process: to strip the elements of creative writing from creative writing text.

A word was born; well, two words.

"In my spare time I'm going to put these words on Wikipedia," I said. I'm always threatening to put something on Wikipedia.

Now, the thing is, I don't have a lot of spare time. In between Momming, researching and working, I glanced at the steps to create an article there and knew I would have to wait for someone else to create the entry. Instead, I went to Wikitionary. I entered both definitions there but after 24 hours, "decreatify" was deemed not a word and deleted. I expect "creatify" to reach a similar fate though I Googled both.

People are talking about them, just not in the same context.

It seems words aren’t words until enough people approve them. Words are confined and defined, contained until they are collectively accepted and used in collective conversations and then tallied. After they are counted someone, somewhere says yes and grants permission to the genpop to use them. Until then, a word does not exist. Atleast that’s what some would have us think.

Individuals create words to express experiences.

Like many people, I create words all the time. I use "a lot a bit" and other words that researchers will say don't exist.  When someone writes a historical fiction novel about 2015 and uses the term "creatify" someone will say: "I don't think people were using that word back then."

Dear future Creative Writing PhD student, that somebody is wrong.




Coined during a Creative Writing exercise by Yvonne Battle-Felton in 2015 and likely used by others in American English
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creatify ‎(third-person singular simple present creatifiespresent participle creatifyingsimple past and past participle creatified)
  1. To editrewrite, and/or revise standard text using creative writing tools and techniques.


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