"Can Creative Writing Be Taught?"

via Books Inq. Francine Prose on the question that has puzzled educators for some time.

Like Ms. Prose, I tend to side with those who say that there are aspects that can be taught.  But there is a fundamental reality that sometimes we struggle to come to terms with.  While almost anyone can be taught to write acceptable prose, there are a very small number of people who are born writers.  And by this, I don't mean particularly good prose artists, all of whom are published, but rather, people for whom there is no other way of living. I think of myself, regardless of my occupation at any point in my life, as a writer because when I cease to write, there is a fundamental instability in my life.  That is, writing provides a framework, a real framework, for everything I do.  It allows me to process information and make sense of it.  In some ways, things do not become real until they have been written.  The process of writing is the process of reification--of bringing new light and new understanding to things that have happened.  The person for whom this is true, whether published or not, is a writer


  1. This I believe is true.

    It's been years since you and I and a small group sat in that small back room of that mystery book store. For me, it was thrilling, no matter how bad the contributions around the table were. We were writing and working at our craft!

    Over the years I've gone through periods where I was too busy, too overworked, too preoccupied to write, and during those times, I suffered. These last six months when I've written every day and worked at it with more focus and fervor than I've had since grad school. And because of it, I feel a greater sense of mental clarity and peace.

    You are completely correct. Writers write. Publishing is another thing altogether.

  2. Ah, the lack of an edit button on comments.

  3. Dear Randy,

    Re: Paragraph 2--I hear you and I agree. I have to admit that my writing is so constant and so integral that I don't focus as I ought on the creation of new things. But I intend for that to change. I am considering some of the advice you gave _chez vous_ and attempting to implement in my own home. Somewhat difficult under the circumstances--but I should think that it will work out well.




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