Thursday, March 31, 2011

GUEST POST: Jo-Anne Richards "People often ask whether creative writing can be taught"

People often ask whether creative writing can be taught.

Duh! Can you teach piano?

People have such funny ideas about writing. They seem to think that if they just sat still for a while, an entire piece of literature would float into their brain and wait patiently to be written down.

Yet, writing is essentially no different from any other artform, like painting, sculpture or music.

Sure, some people have more natural talent than others. And some writers can be self-taught. If they read enough, they might absorb the narrative skills to give them an intuitive edge. Just as some people might teach themselves to use water-colours. Or they pick away at House of the Rising Sun long enough to play passable guitar.

But surely they’d be much better; they’d improve much faster, if they were taught the basic skills of their artform.

Singers learn to control their breath. Artists learn about perspective. Writers learn to play with point of view, or how to avoid exposition.

Writing is an artform like any other. You may be blessed with talent. But it’s not a mystical gift from the gods. It’s hard work, which involves crafting something into a form that is meaningful.

In my experience teaching writing courses, this is the most common reason would-be writers become discouraged and give up. They imagine that anyone should just naturally be capable of doing it. They think they’ll spend a few pleasant hours day-dreaming onto a page … and voila.

Writing trainers can help with the techniques that will allow you to craft something special.

We can provide creative exercises designed to take writing to a different level. We can give the narrative skills, and share our own mistakes and vulnerabilities so you don’t have to go through the grind of making your own.

But don’t devalue the process. It’s still going to be a tough process in which Oprah is unlikely to be involved.




All About Writing Courses


Jo-Anne Richards is an internationally published author, who has written four novels and several short stories. She and award-winning script-writer, Richard Beynon have recently launched an online version of their flagship Creative Writing Course, for anyone with a passion for writing – fiction or non-fiction.

They will give you the writing skills to turn your passion into print, and the personal feedback to make it publishable. They promise to be honest, but always kind. See http://www.allaboutwritingcourses.com/


- Post by Jo-Anne Richards




Jo-Anne Richards is a South African novelist and journalist, who lectures at Wits University in Johannesburg. Her fourth book, My Brother’s Book, was published in March by Picador Africa. See synopsis and extract from first chapter.

Her first novel, The Innocence of Roast Chicken, topped the South African bestseller list in the week it appeared and remained there for 15 weeks.

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