To teach creative writing, or not?

A chance came up recently to do a bit more teaching. Coming at it from an editor’s as well as a writer’s perspective, I hope I have something useful to add. BUT… have just been reading The Gum Thief by Douglas Coupland and, well, have you read it? Those creative writing exercises he slags off, where the narrator is a piece of toast, getting buttered…? And the character who is the author of five critically acclaimed, but unread, books. Very scary.

OK, funny too, but scary. Try this for a longer and better-argued review, all I can say is I kept having to stop, then start again… in appalled fascination. So: go for it, or run for it?


“Go for it if it is not too time-consuming”, says Women Rule. Agreed, it is rewarding to help people improve their writing, but yes it does take up time. And on a per-hour basis the pay is modest. Last month I skimmed Rodge Glass’s biography of Alisdair Gray, in which Gray was blissfully scathing about his time as a teacher of writers, at a Scottish university.

Still, the way the subject is taught can vary a great deal, and after surveying the course materials I’d be using (and reassuring myself there were no buttered toast exercises to be handed out!) I decided I’d be happy to give this another go.


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