Is Writing a Form of Art?


Perhaps I’m biased, but I have always considered writing to be a form of art. You’d think that wouldn’t be a problem, but there are a lot of people who will adamantly disagree with that statement.

The main argument I hear for why writing isn’t considered art is because art is often considered a visual medium, whereas words on a page are not…somehow. People have made this argument against music as well, despite the ubiquitous term “musical artist.”

To settle this debate (which may never be settled) one has to first classify the definition of art, and therein lies the problem. Compressing all that art is, what it can be, and what it represents, into one tight little Webster’s dictionary blurb is not as easy as it would seem. There are countless books, college classes, and essays, all dedicated to explaining exactly what art is.

But, of all the many varying definitions of art that exist, I think the one definition most agreed on is that: Art is something that exists to elicit a reaction or emotional response from the observer.

When we look at visual art, we are observing a message conveyed by the artist. Are they telling a story? Are they trying to convey a raw emotion? Are they trying to make you think? Are they presenting you with what they perceive as a reality? Music and writing have just as much power to elicit reactions and emotional responses from their listeners and readers as visual arts.

Writing also has the ability to bridge the gap between the printed medium and the visual. Aren’t graphic novels a form of art where writing and storytelling meet captivating visuals? Don’t literary works get made into movies, plays, and tv shows ALL the time?

If you’ve ever read a story, or even a work of non-fiction and felt any sort of connection to the work whether emotionally or intellectually, or if you’ve ever read something that made you stop and think, then yes, that literary piece WAS art.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are bad painters, terrible musicians, horrible film directors, and questionable performance artists, just like there are things that have been written that don’t have a lot of inherent merit outside of cheap entertainment, but that doesn’t mean that all of these mediums deserve to have their artistic potential discredited.

Writers are just as creative and imaginative as painters, photographers, sculpturists, and other visual artists, perhaps even more so because visual artists are often limited by the medium in which they present their art, whereas writers have no boundaries to what they can write.

What do you think? Have you ever read something that was undoubtedly a work of art?

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