Your Turn: Writing Instruction

Some say writing can’t be taught. It’s not hard to see how one might reach that conclusion. Writers tend to stumble dazed from one project and, sitting down to start another, wonder whether they really know anything at all about this puzzling and miraculous process.

On the flip side of that thinking, contrast craft with all the vagueries of publishing – the trials of submission, the frustrations of promotion and sales, the way stars rise and fall on the whims of the market. Our craft – what we learn, how we apply it, how we share what we know with others – at least that’s within our control.

Of course here at 49 Writers, we believe not only that writing can be taught, but that it should be taught well and often and in many forums that support the hard work of writers. To that end, we’ve drafted our Instructional Philosophy. No surprise in the first couple of sentences:

Some say good writing can’t be taught. We think that’s rubbish. Instruction alone won’t make you a great writer, but it will take you a good long way in that direction. At the heart of our mission is a firm commitment to instruction that encourages students from a variety of backgrounds and experiences to become more thoughtful, prolific, and proficient as they explore their passion for the written word. For both emerging and established writers, we offer workshops and courses unfettered by the academic constraints of credit hours, grading, and university tuition. We offer no easy answers or cheap tricks. Rather, we aim to delve deep into the mysteries of language, discovery and expression with teaching that is both student-centered and well-structured around meaningful outcomes. We also believe that good teaching, like good writing, develops through a life-long process of learning that includes evaluating our work, sharing ideas, and stretching ourselves – sometimes beyond our comfort zones.

Having articulated our thinking on instruction, we’re always open to your ideas. What kind of writing instruction appeals to you most? Short, pithy workshops? Practical how-to clinics? Multi-week courses that encourage independent work between sessions? What kind of teaching do you prefer? What classroom pet peeves drive you crazy?

This month we’ll be putting together the courses we’ll offer this fall. What course or courses would make you want to drop everything and run to sign up? Share your thoughts here, or email us at We can’t promise your dream course will make this term’s schedule, but we’ll add it to our long-term planning list.

1 thought on “Your Turn: Writing Instruction”

  1. Andromeda Romano-Lax

    Thanks for opening this forum for discussing instruction, Deb. Let me throw out an additional question to our farthest-flung readers: what kind of distance education (including online classes) interest you? Has anyone had experiences, good or bad, with other online creative writing courses, such as Gotham? If you were to try out an online course, what would the focus be? We'd love to hear from you!

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top