Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Creative Writing Courses: help or hindrance?

Can we be taught to write? Or is it creative urge that rules, OK?

This has come up a couple of times in the past week so I thought I'd set down a few thoughts.

First the craft of writing

Does that have to be learned? I'd give a very firm yes to that. And the only way to learn is to do it.

Last week I was talking to a leading writer in the UK in the mind, body, spirit genre of books. His writing was learned in the hard school of being critiqued on a daily basis by journalists and advertising copywriters. That meant he'd developed skills he could turn to any kind of writing he needed to do. Including several successful novels.

His take on inspiration was that for him, he wanted to write books that came out of experience. Not theories that hadn't been tested but had become robust through practical application.

Second: what surrounds you as a writer

In Saturday's Guardian Review is an article by Rachel Cusk on creative writing courses. Their use or otherwise.

There were three points I think need stressing::

  1. The importance of talking about yourself as a writer, even if you are still working at another job.
  2. The vital necessity of support from people who are focused on you succeeding as a writer.
  3. The need to learn the craft of writing.

You can check out the article here:


I know just being in the same room as other writers is good for me, whatever level they are. There's always something to learn.

Have you taken a creative writing course? If so how helpful was it to you?

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