Thompson Rivers University

Three Ways to be Creative in Academic Writing

June 26, 2018

by Chelsea Tuyttens

Academic writing is all about rules — structure, thesis statements, supporting arguments, topic sentences, grammar, and don’t even get me started on citations!

So where does creative writing fit into all of this?

The short answer is – from beginning to end. There are endless ways to present your ideas and thoughts within the rigid structure of an academic paper.

Once you have developed a thesis with strong supporting arguments, you have the framework for your paper, much like the frame of a house. Sure, the house needs a kitchen, bathroom, living roomthe various rooms akin to the paragraphs of your paper. But what about the colors, materials and accessories? Those are all up to you.

Personal experience:

Recounting a personal experience often improves your paper by making it interesting for the reader, and it also allows you to illustrate your understanding of the material by connecting it to your own life.

For example, use an advertisement you have been influenced by when discussing marketing strategies, or if writing on literature, relate a memory of your life to something a character in a story experienced. This will help you think critically about the material, and will show your instructor you can practically apply what you have learned.


Using similes and metaphors can be a great way to create a visual image of your argument or point, and helps it stick in the reader’s mind.

For instance, I compared the framework of a paper to the frame of a house. That image hopefully made it easier to understand my point by helping you to visualize the structure of an academic paper. 


If you’re worried about repetition, or just want to find that perfect word, keep a thesaurus tab open on your browser. This will help you build/develop/grow/cultivate/expand/augment your vocabulary! (I used a thesaurus for that.)

Creativity is no substitute for the overall argument of your paper. Building a strong foundation and structure is integral to good academic writing. However, as long as you have a logical and well-stated argument, your instructor will appreciate a dash of creativity to capture the reader’s attention.

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