by Dave Lordan
What kind of people should do creative writing classes?
Anyone of any age or background who can write and make stuff up can be guided to enjoy expressing themselves and exploring ideas through creative writing. I recommend that everyone take a creative writing class at least once in their lives for reasons of personal development, to increase your powers of concentration and imagination, to preserve precious memories, and just to find a place to tell your story and have it appreciated.
For those whose ambition is to join the world of professional writing the answer is different. No-one can inject you with the talent, intelligence, and determination to become a writer; these must come from within. But a good teacher, who must also be a good writer, can help to improve your writing and expression skills, motivate you enough to get you up and running at that crucial starting stage, instruct you on the practicalities of writing, and clarify the structure and aims of your writing project.
Who can teach creative writing?
Answering this question I feel obliged to point out that Creative Writing Teaching is an unregulated service industry, for which there are no agreed standards or qualifications. Anyone can set themselves up as a creative writing teacher. This is obviously problematic and will have to be dealt with eventually through the establishment of a professional standards and qualifications body. Until that happens be careful and do your research before you hand over andy fees – there are some racketeers in operation.
For anything beyond the most basic beginner’s level – at least – Creative Writing can only be authentically taught by people who are creative writers of at least some peer-recognised accomplishment themselves. You wouldn’t take flying lessons from someone who has never successfully flown an airplane so don’t be silly enough to pay for creative writing lessons from someone who hasn’t published a book. Self-published books do not count on this score, I’m afraid, generally speaking.
Also, if you are interested in writing in a particular form, say fiction, it doesn’t make much sense to take lessons from someone who has only published poetry, does it? That would be like taking trumpet lessons from a piano player.
For beginners I recommend taking one or two beginners courses with an experienced and reputable teacher, and then move on to specialist courses in your chosen genre. Again specialist courses can only be properly taught by someone with a high reputation in the particular area.
Where in Ireland can people do creative writing classes?
There are numerous options. Use Google! From personal experience and knowledge I can recommend the Irish Writers Centre and The Big Smoke Writing Factory in Dublin, and the Over The Edge Literary organization in Galway. Among the Irish summer festivals, the West Cork Literature Festival in July has by far the most adventurous selection at the moment. Cuirt Festival in Galway and Mountains to the Sea in Dun Laoghaire also have a great line-up of teachers and choice of workshops. Don’t overlook community groups and, especially, night classes in local community schools – you may well find teachers of a similar quality, and even sometimes the same teachers, giving courses for community groups at a fraction of the price of more expensive options like Master’s Programs in Universities.