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On teaching creative writing

I don’t think this is a debate that is ever going to go away but I would like to add my 2p worth to it anyway – can we or how can we teach creative writing?

I personally feel that creative writing is a talent that you either have or you don’t. But like any gift it is normally raw at first and must be honed and nurtured to improve the craft and develop our individual voices. The only thing(s) that you can teach is technique to somebody who already has the ability to do it. The theory, in this case, compliments the practical and not the other way around with other things where the theory leads into the practical. It is, after all, an art (even though teaching technique and style might conceivably be called a science).

My view is based on that I have no musical talent but have always had the desire to write stories; I have been writing fiction for as long as I have been able to write. Yet despite efforts of my teachers and some friends who found it straightforward, I’ve never been able to read music and certainly couldn’t write it. Had I the patience, I could probably learn the techniques to compile a composition but it would lack the passion or the ear that comes from somebody with a natural talent for music.

Like the article above, I agree that we can teach anybody the technique to be able to write but if they do not have the raw talent, passion and dedication then they might be able to write a short story, but it will in all likelihood not inspire passion in a reader.

I attended creative writing classes about ten years ago because I was determined to improve my technique and get feedback from fellow readers and writers as well as listen to their own experiences. I’m glad that I attended the classes as it allowed me to improve. Those classes led to me joining a writer’s group that in the long run I didn’t feel benefited me.

Only when I went to university was I able to put my writing skills into practice, albeit for non-fiction. My passion for writing developed and I received regular praise for clarity and passion, particularly my undergraduate dissertation, the achievement in life of which I am most proud.

So, what do you think. Can you really teach somebody to be a writer? Anybody think I’m talking utter rubbish? πŸ™‚

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2 thoughts on “On teaching creative writing

  1. I am not sure writing can be taught, but I do think teaching can make writers better. When I went into school for writing a few years ago, I didn’t think I’d learn much. But over the few years I was there, I was exposed to so many new writers, so many new writing styles, so many ways of approaching writing. I had to write so many things I never would have before, which made me become a more skilled and controlled writer. So can you teach writing? Maybe not. But you can teach people who can write to write better.
    My $0.02 πŸ™‚

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