By Hope Hall
I think that writing is taught much the same as we teach grammar. Teaching someone how grammar works is not teaching them to read. They must know how to read to understand grammar. Creative writing has patterns much like grammar has patterns. These professors can teach students what patterns they are already using and how to utilize them effectively just as well as professors can teach students new patterns. I feel that teaching creative writing is all about showing writers how to effectively write not just write.
Because writing is a solitary activity, most writers don’t compare notes on their processes. Some colleges have writing clubs, but those members comment only on the final product. While feedback is helpful and sometimes necessary, what burgeoning writers need is a learned hand directing their progress. Sure, you can learn passively through reading, but sometimes, people don’t learn in that manner.
A good number of people learn from seeing examples, especially if that example is something they are doing (writing). Creative writing teachers foster the potential in their students. When I took one of my first creative writing classes, my teacher saw that I was using language and syntax that I artificially created. She encouraged me to use my own voice because I had talent. I was able to cultivate my voice.
Just like grammar classes, creative writing classes teach students how to write better than they did before. So I don’t think that writing can be taught. I think writing is influenced and nurtured by these teachers. Like John Barth was saying, there are a lot people writing but few are true writers. Teachers teach students to hone their skills to help them write something worth reading. I don’t think that creative writing classes teach you how to write. I think those classes arm you and teach you how to think in order to become a writer.