Friday, 19 July 2013

#wpad July challenge - Can writing be taught?


Ah! this question comes up time and time again.  The answer?  A lot can be taught.  You can learn from teachers on courses and workshops or online about how to find characters, develop plot introduce conflict, the structure of story and forms of verse and all the other technical stuff that goes into story writing and poetry through exercises and games (prompts).  You can even read about it in books but the actual writing is what counts.  Feedback is essential and goes a long way to finding out if you are on the right track.

You need imagination, the desire to tell a story or write poetry.  Some people seem born to write.  It's like it's in their blood but even so they need to learn some techniques.  I think also that most people will have been writing a while before they take a course because they love to do it.  If you suddenly wake up one morning and think 'I'll learn to write' when you've never had an interest before, it's probably not for you.

This teaching question usually goes with another one - do you need to a degree in creative writing?  Even though I don't have a degree my opinion is that it must help because people who win competitions and generally get themselves into print  nearly all seem to be either studying or have a degree.

So (and sorry this is brief tonight), I think writing can be taught but there also needs to be a spark and a desire to express yourself on paper (or laptop).  I liken it to photography.  You can have the best camera in the world but it won't necessarily make you a good photographer even with lessons if you still cut heads of people.  If, however, you are good at taking pictures you will be able to produce brilliant photos with a simple compact digital set on 'easy' because you have the eye for it.  Does this analogy work???  Blame it on the heat!

1 comment:

  1. I think it massively helps to have the kind of tuition and one-to-one feedback on your work that people get when they do creative writing degrees. I never did one and it's taken me so long even just to understand how I'm writing and to have any sort of real confidence in it. But if you have access to any kind of group workshopping then that helps a great deal too.