"A word after a word after a word is power" - Margaret Atwood


A blog for readers and writers

A blog about the stories we tell each other and how we tell them...

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Can creative writing be taught?

No one wonders why an aspiring artist should want to go to art school or thinks there is anything strange about a musician taking lessons, but 80+ years after the first university creative writing programme was launched the debate about whether creative writing can be taught still rages on.
Author and editor Louis Menand writing in the New Yorker in 2009 questioned the way creative writing is taught

Creative-writing programs are designed on the theory that students who have never published a poem can teach other students who have never published a poem how to write a publishable poem.


British screenwriter and author Hanif Kureishi - of My Beautiful Laundrette and The Buddha of Suburbia fame - seems to find very little of value in any creative writing course. His observations are much ruder and considerably less funny. I can't help wondering how the post grad creative writing students he supervises  at Kingston University feel about his assertion that such courses only attract the mad.
I've put the other side of the argument (surprise, surprise) in the latest issue of What the Dickens creative writing magazine. You can download it for free at
Or buy it for your kindle at £1.53 or $2.99
There's lots more to read in the summer sunflower issue - from author interviews to reviews and craft articles. Plus a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes at a new writing website that offers intriguing against-the-clock writing exercises.


Have a peek at my article and then come back here. I'd love to know what you think, especially if you've ever been on a creative writing course (including one of mine!)
Did it boost your writing self confidence or undermine it? Did you pick up new skills and have you written more since going on the course?
(Gulp!) Could Hanif be right?


MorningAJ said...

Technique can be taught, skill can be practised, but creativity and talent are innate, and no amount of lessons will help. Same goes for music and art.

I could spend years at art school but I'll never be an artist - just a painter.

PS. Do you really need comment moderation AND word verification?

BRIDGET said...

You're right - it's exactly the same for the other creative arts so why the fuss about writing? There's a craft to learn but the art comes from within.
Have you had a chance to look at the rest of What the Dickens magazine? pretty good I think - although I'm only responsible for my small patch.
PS Have the technical ability of a gnat --- how do I switch moderation off on blogger?