Tag Archives: teachers

A Look Inside the Mind of a Professor of Creative Writing

Truly, professors of creative writing perform a great service. Without their noble efforts, the next generation of literary phenoms would have a difficult time making their name in the literary game. However, you might be surprised by what thoughts run through their heads.

Without further ado, here’s a list of eight thoughts your creative writing professor would never share publicly:

1. You know, come to think of it, I really do think a monkey on a typewriter could write something better.

2. Yeah, a totally illiterate nation seems like a good idea right about now.

3. That’s an interesting sex scene. Obvious virgin.

4. Another story about high school melodrama. I wish they taught them better. Vertical not horizontal.

5. Oh. A disaffected young man in my classroom. I wonder who he will rip off? Bukowski? Hunter S. Thompson? Chuck Palahniuk? Tao Lin? Maybe he’ll be really cerebral and rip off Kerouac!

6. So, it’s a given that the bro with the backwards baseball cap will write in the style of Tucker Max, right?

7. I may not be Raymond Carver, but hey, it could be worse, I could be as bad as my students.

8. I hate my life. Why didn’t I get an MBA?

You Are The Final Arbiter of Your Writing

“Beware of advice—even this.”
—Carl Sandburg

This message may seem a bit counter-intuitive coming from a man who runs a blog that offers writing advice, but it’s the truth – don’t take my blog posts for gospel truth.

I love writing The Literary Game. I love the opportunity to help aspiring writers through this simple daily blog. I hope that some of my posts are useful to you, wherever you may be in your literary journey.

But know this, I am not the final arbiter on good writing.

I may have published some poems and stories in a few good literary magazines – so what?

But it’s not just me…

Stephen King said to do such and such in On Writing – so what?

A professor in your MFA program said you should consider doing this and that – so what?

It’s not that my advice or their advice is bad. You should want to learn from those around you, from your friends, from other writers, from your professors, from esteemed authors, but at the end of the day, don’t forget that it’s your writing. While the advice that you may read or hear may be spot on, there’s a possibility it may be wildly inappropriate for your writing or situation. 

You know yourself and you know your writing better than I do, better than Stephen King does, better than a professor in your MFA program will. Yes, it is important to embrace the possibilities to learn that are all around, but please don’t neglect your inner compass. Measure the information in front of you. If it works, go ahead and embrace it, but if you know it’s not right, never be afraid to blaze your own path.

 

Have you ever listened to others’ advice and took a wrong turn because of doing so? Have you ever had a major accomplishment because you disregarded others’ well-meaning advice? I’d love to hear your experiences.