Monday, 16 May 2011

Creative Writing

Can Creative Writing be taught? What do you think? The question has been knocking around in the public arena ever since the University of East Anglia set up its course, with such brilliant alumni as Ian McEwan and Kazuo Ishiguro, and no doubt the question was debated in a quieter way long before that.
It does sound like a contradiction. Creativity is personal; it can be inspired (think Mozart, Shakespeare) a connection with the subconscious on a deep level, an outpouring of... of... I'm struggling to define 'creativity'. Yet I’ve agreed to teach Creative Writing for a whole week in France.
Before I put anyone off joining us for a week in France at a wonderful venue with fantastic food and local wines, I should add that this won't be my first venture into teaching Creative Writing. I run successful workshops for the Society of Authors, at Get Writing hosted by the University of Herts, and for a few smaller outfits. So far the experience has proved challenging and great fun.
The name 'Creative Writing' is useful as a label because everyone has a clear idea of what Creative Writing is. But at the same time the title is misleading because creativity isn't a skill that can be acquired through training or learning of formulae, although it can be nurtured and facilitated.
What then is the value of Creative Writing classes? The answer is that for most of us it takes more than creativity to turn ideas into a book. Character building, plot development, structure, pace, tension - all the essential elements that make up an engaging narrative, all these are skills that can be acquired and honed, and this craft of writing can be taught.
Perhaps ‘Creative Writing Classes’ is a bit of a misnomer. But ‘Crafty Writing Classes’ doesn’t have quite the same ring, does it?


Guillaume said...

I did Creative Writing at uni, and it certainly is helpful. I think talent and creativity have to be developed. Not necessarily through a class, but it can also be taught, at least partially. It is like mind training in a way.

Guillaume said...

Strange you mention Mozart, I blogged about him today.

Oh and I want to try creative writing again one day. Maybe not that far though...;-)

Pat said...

I'd love to come but my husband's health (just finished 6 months chemo) means travelling further than the next county is a no-no.
We are shortly going to Instow for a week and my new copy of 'Dead End' will be gong with me.

Leigh Russell said...

Would love to have you along if you can make it, Guillaume - Perpignan isn't far! Yes, it is a kind of mind training, in a way.

Leigh Russell said...

Hi Pat - glad you husband's off the chemo. Hopefully he'll be fit enough by October to take the journey to France. I'm sure the great food (and wine?) would do him good! In the meantime, enjoy Instow, and Dead End!

Eliza Keating said...

Great post..and delighted to come across your blog..ELiza Keating

Leigh Russell said...

Thanks, Eliza.