Can Creative Writing Be Taught?

Confessions of a Creative Writing Teacher

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Just before Christmas, my friend and colleague Ashley Stokes was interviewed by Cheryl Whittaker at Mash Stories. The title of the article was ‘Can You Really Teach Me how to Write?’ This is a good piece on writing and teaching and well worth checking out. To give Cheryl her due, she was taking the counter position – as, obviously, was Ashley – and arguing affirmatively against the common barrier statement that ‘You can’t teach a person how to write; they either have it, or they don’t.’ This she ascribed to ‘those possessive over their field, wanting to maintain a certain elitism.’ While I applaud Cheryl’s commitment to Michel Foucault’s theory of power and discourse, it seemed to me that this misconception is actually much more widespread and commonplace than that (while allowing that she’s spot on about elitism in some quarters, naming no names). Every time the subject…

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