Currently, I am at university studying English Literature… and Creative Writing. It’s not my first time ever taking a creative writing workshop/class, but for the first time I’m being taught by authors, researchers and all sorts about the craft of writing.
And yet, I’m posing this question – can you actually be taught how to do creative writing? There are, of course, two camps.
Well, obviously, I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think you could be. Creative writing may be an art style, but you get art colleges, so you can be taught to paint and draw. Why should writing be any different?
I feel like since being at uni, I’ve already learnt a lot. I’ve improved in my writing style, tried out some more ways to progress (eg with automatic writing, with internal monologues and streams of consciousness) and I’ve enjoyed being surrounded by other writers. I can also get valuable feedback on my work by trained eyes, something that I just wouldn’t get with readers. I should be able to really hone my craft whilst I’m here.
Well, it comes into the last sentence I just wrote: hone my craft. Writing is such a personal endeavour, can you really be taught to do it if you’re not teaching yourself? No one writes exactly like somebody else. I know that during schooling, I had teachers saying, “It’s good, but I don’t like your style…” So, if I’m being taught, am I expected to change my writing style to suit what my teacher likes to read?
Secondly, I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t already like to write in the first place. The question I asked was, “Can you be taught creative writing?” Well, if I’m already writing, can I be taught once more? Surely the logic in that would be that I have to erase everything in my mind (and put on this blog too!) that I know about creative writing and be taught from scratch. But having been to a class, I know that this isn’t what happens. I guess you could ask, “Is there any point in creative writing classes?” but then we might get existential and deviate from the point in hand which, of course, is something I never do.
Overall, I think no, you can’t be taught creative writing. There must be something inherent in you which compels you to write. I wouldn’t be learning creative writing if I didn’t already like to write myself!
However, I think you can be taught how to hone in on your strengths and improve your weaknesses. For example, if you are really bad at writing dialogue, you could take a creative writing course and you might improve a great deal. You’re not being taught to write necessarily, but you are being taught how to gain better skills in the craft you wish to pursue.
So I’m going to turn this over to you guys. Do you think you can be taught creative writing? Or do you think that creative writing classes should be abolished and beta reading speed dating should be a thing? (Actually, why isn’t that a thing? Is that a thing?) Let me know in the comments below, and tell me if you take/have ever taken/want to take a creative writing class yourself!