Can you teach creative writing?

Can you teach creative writing?

Novelist Hanif Kureishi has hit the headlines with his assertion that creative writing courses are a waste of time – even though he is a creative writing teacher himself.

Speaking at the Independent Bath Festival last week he is reported as saying: “A lot of my students just can’t tell a story. They can write sentences but they don’t know how to make a story go from there all the way through to the end without people dying of boredom in between. It’s a difficult thing to do and it’s a great skill to have. Can you teach that? I don’t think you can.”

But writers like Jeanette Winterson, Matt Haig and Rachel Cusk have defended creative writing courses – and I’m with them. In fact I agree wholeheartedly with Haig, who said: “Like most artforms writing is part instinct and part craft. The craft part is the part that can be taught, and that can make a crucial difference to lots of writers.”

I’ve regularly defended creative writing courses in the past and as they’re in the news again I thought it would be worthwhile to...

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