During the first semester of my creative writing degree, I slogged through what everyone in my graduate program referred to as “creative annotations,” which was just a fancier way of saying that you’d read a novel and written a response to demonstrate you had a basic understanding of what it was about. To me, it felt a lot like busy work.
After I’d gotten the first two or three of these under my belt, however, I started feeling like I was missing the point of the exercise. I mean, anyone who can read a book can also write a book report. The purpose of the assignment, as I discovered, was less about verifying I’d read the book and more about putting into practice what I’d learned from the author’s style of writing in the book.