David Ulin and Carolyn Kellogg: Can creative writing be taught?


Can creative writing be taught? Join L.A. Times book critic David L. Ulin and staff writer Carolyn Kellogg for a video chat Tuesday, Nov. 13, at 10 a.m. as we discuss creative writing, and look at how writers become writers.

The occasion is NaNoWriMo, which is closing in on the end of its second week. Participants in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) try, largely on their own, to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days.

It’s a massive undertaking, a monthlong sprint to achieve something that takes experienced novelists years to accomplish. It is so difficult that of the 256,618 people who started in 2011, only 36,843 crossed the 50,000-word finish line.


But maybe it’s as good as any other route to getting a novel done. What’s so great about laboring for years, anyway? Or spending tens of thousands of dollars to get a creative writing MFA?

I should probably note here that Carolyn (that’s me) spent thousands of dollars to get a creative writing MFA. I earned mine in fiction at the University of Pittsburgh in 2008.

For his part, David teaches creative writing. He is on the faculty of UC Riverside Palm Desert’s low-residency MFA program, where he teaches nonfiction.

You might think those two things together would mean we’re going to say that creative writing can be taught, but I’m not sure that’s the case. We’ll find out Tuesday at 10am.

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