There is a rather cynical saying that goes “Those who can do and those that can’t teach.” I have never liked that phrase as it insults and patronises people who do a job that let’s be honest a lot of people can’t do. Teaching is hard and it is something that requires patience, skill and most of all passion.
This is especially true of creative writing courses. There is this feeling that writing is something that needs to be personal and this cannot be taught. This is true to the extent that writing is something that is an individual love and this is a part that has to come from you. Nobody tells you that you have to write and the self discipline and love is something that cannot really be taught.
What can be taught is the effective structure of writing. While you may know what you want to write about the difficulty can come from how you express it. Your story may be more effective with a third person narrator or told from the perspective of one of the main characters. It might work better as a short story, a play or a poem.
It is also important to remember that creative writing courses may not necessarily be taught in the same way. My workshops were part of the English and Media course I studied at the University of Chichester. The tutors were clever in that you had to read your work aloud to the rest of the group. After a period of letting people gather their thoughts (I would often go out of the room to give them a chance to talk freely) you then had to listen as they gave feedback.
I personally found this particular type of workshop very constructive. The first part was brilliant because when you read work aloud you can often detect when a sentence doesn’t sound quite right. Getting other people’s points of view is also good because in effect they are readers and you need to gauge what readers think of your work.
Some people may also ask what the point is if you are not going to be a professional writer. Developing writing structure has its benefits outside stanzas and acts as well. It makes essay and presentation work easier as you learn better ways of sculpting your thoughts into a cohesive form.
Naturally some creative writing courses are better than others. But this is true of any form of service. If you look around to see what is available you ought to find someone that can help you get the most from your writing.
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