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Teach Yourself Creative Writing

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Teach Yourself Creative Writing

By Michael LaRocca


You can't learn to be creative. Either you're creative or you're not.


And yet, I've taught literally thousands of students, in university classrooms, a class called Creative Writing. Is that hypocrisy or just irony?


Well, the craft of writing can be studied and learned. Every writer should study it. But that innate creativity is something you're born with. Creation remains mystical, but craft is learned and honed by many hours of hard work.


I started writing 40 years ago, creating my own comic books and telling them to neighborhood kids. Ten years later, my first short story won second prize at the National Honor Society's 1981 Florida convention and led to my inclusion in the 1982 Who's Who In American Writing. Then I vanished for about 20 years.


Practice is the only way to improve as a writer. Write constantly. Write thousands of words for years and years knowing it's okay if most of them suck. Mine sure did. That's why I was off the radar for so long. Ross Perot's "giant sucking sound" came from my manuscripts.


To distill what you think, feel and believe from all the trash floating around in your head, and then to actually put that on paper the way you mean to put it, is a skill that only comes from years of practice. They don't teach it in any school I've ever been to. I struggled at this for 20 years or so after I graduated from college. That's how I learned to write. Not in a classroom.


It's not enough to study, learn and memorize rules. You must internalize them, so they're in the background, unnoticed but still there, while you create.


In the process of all this, you'll find your own unique writing voice. Without that, there's really no point in writing at all.


Now I'm too busy to teach anymore, but I can't just throw away my lesson plans, so they're at . My old novels, meanwhileComputer Technology Articles, are in a landfill somewhere and the world should be grateful.


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Michael LaRocca has written eight published novels, including three EPPIE finalists. He's also edited more than 300 published novels and textbooks. You can find him at unless his cat's on the computer again.

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