I was telling a writing friend of mine about my PTLLS (Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector) course, she made various encouraging noises and supportive comments but then she asked that awkward question, “But do you think creative writing can be taught or is it a natural talent?”
That made me think. There’s no doubt that some people have a natural flair for grabbing ideas out of nowhere and turning them into wonderful finished pieces. Others put in hours at the PC but have very little success. But that’s true of many creative skills, such as playing a musical instrument, painting or drama.
Lots of us do believe that at least certain aspects of creative writing can be taught – just think of all the courses advertised in the writing magazines and the many, many more advertised only in their own locality.
Personally, I believe that it is possible to teach someone how to structure a story, how to edit their work and write ‘tighter’, how to pitch an article to an editor, how to give that article an arresting opening, the mechanics of writing a haiku or a limerick and much more. I believe this because these are all skills that I’ve learned over the years.
Maybe it’s not possible to teach someone to see the poetic value of a sunset or imagine themselves into a character’s head. Or maybe it is, if you give them enough practice and constructive feedback.
Perhaps I’m biased because one day in the future I hope to teach Creative Writing. What do the rest of you think?