Creativity can be taught. We learn how to do everything from walking to writing books. No-one teaches you how to blink or breathe but we learn pretty much everything else. Imagination is the most basic feature of the human mind so teaching writing or creativity isn’t difficult. It’s more a question of how important it is to you to be creative all the time. To be professionally imaginative. Most people spend too much time just trying to survive.
Toni Morrison says she used to wake at four o’clock every morning, for years, so she could have a few hours before her kids got up and she had to go to work. How many people are going to set their alarm every day to 4:00am, just so they can write for a few hours? That’s hard enough, but this is a world before Toni Morrison writes any of the books that will eventually be rewarded with the Nobel Prize for literature.
The quiet hours before the sun, when it’s just some woman at a table and there’s a clock on the wall, the rest of the house is sleeping, and there’s a blank piece of paper that is ruined as soon as it is marked by ink. She has a belief in the ruin. She commits herself to this kind of inverted redemption. ‘Beloved’ hasn’t even been whispered in her mind yet. It’s just a blank page hours before sunlight.
If you can step outside the overwhelming push of the world, the constant demands of necessity and the unrelenting press of commitments, you will find that it is impossible not to be creative. If you can push the world aside for long enough the details of existence arise relentlessly. But the world doesn’t get pushed aside easily.
If you think writing stories, poems, novels, (or whatever you’d like to turn your hand to), is like carpentry and you simply want descriptions for the types of cabinets you can make, what woods to use, etc, then you might get a lot from a Creative Writing course. Everything else you need, you have already learned. Basic virtues like discipline and dedication, faith and courage, sacrifice and passion.
Being part of a Creative Writing course might help you find that kind of commitment but it probably won’t. All it can do really is show you how much is actually involved in stringing together a few sentences. Help you along with your craft but it still comes back down to those basic virtues.
It’s about as easy to teach creativity as it is to show a person how to set their alarm to 4:00am. Everything else has already been learned and it’s just a question of putting in those kinds of hours. Putting in those kinds of years. It’s not difficult to teach these things, but it’s monumentally difficult to live by them. It’s so much easier just to sleep in and pretend that there’s some kind of mystery to the whole thing.