The whole “Can writing be taught?” debate has been raging for a long time and I have thought about it a lot. After doing a load of research I have decided that I like the “musical instrument” analogy best. That is to say that, even a great musician, with tonnes of natural talent, will still need tuition and plenty of practice to be able to play his violin/piano/whatever. And someone with no talent whatsoever can take scores of lessons but in the end, they may be able to play the right notes in the right order but it will never sound good.
For example, I took piano lessons for five years. Seriously. Five years. I can read music, if it’s not too complicated ( a semi-quaver I can just about manage), and I can play tunes (Christmas carols and Mary Had a Little Lamb), but that’s all you’re getting out of me. You can tie me to the piano stool and and torture me with that damn metronome but I’m never going to play like (insert name of famous pianist here). My piano teacher even told my parents to stop sending me to lessons because I was such a hopeless case.
But with writing, it’s different. I have the feeling that I can already do it and that if I were to take lessons, it would be so that it would take less drafts to do it well. I don’t want to learn to write, I want to learn to write better. So, with that in mind, I applied to do a Masters in Creative Writing. I did get a place on the course, but after a lot of deliberation, I decided it wasn’t the right choice for me. I have no objection to taking a writing course but a Masters is too much. It’s a lot of money just so you can put an MA after your name.
Before turning down the Masters, I had to think hard about what I want to achieve with my life. I always wanted to write a novel but had the feeling that I would need some support t o do that. Through NaNoWriMo, which is free, I have been able to work my way towards a first draft. There is still a loooooooong way to go but I think I can get there. I also wanted to try scriptwriting. I have signed myself up for a short course in March, much much much cheaper than the Masters, and in the meantime, I have been reading scripts from Daily Script to try and get a feel for how it ‘s done.
So, in a nutshell, can writing be taught? Sort of.