It is said that every person who knows how to read and write could compose the stories that seem to him. False. The vast majority of people who can read and write have no idea how to tell a story-whether fictional or based on reality-through the use of writing; much less elaborate specialized texts such as an article, a monograph, or a textbook.
For some creators, such as novelists, storytellers and poets, the term ‘writer’ is circumscribed to the person who tells stories – long or short – or the individual who makes poetry through writing. That is to say, they believe that ‘writer’ is only that individual who is dedicated to literature. This leaves aside many other people who write other genres and who live by writing.
The use of the written word has a much greater scope than the literary genres traditionally contemplated in the fine arts. The written word is the backbone of religions (the Bible, the Talmud, the Koran), the substratum of education (textbooks), the support of philosophy and politics (treaties), the basis of science and technology (articles, essays), the vital medium of business and business development (works based on experiences), and also, as it was in the past, the heart of the epistolary exchange.
A romantic vision is that of the writer committed to himself and to society; with himself, as Avilés Fabila said in “The writer and his problems”, to “write well”, and -with a justice mentality-, to ‘fight for constant changes in society’.
In societies such as the Mexican one, where that idealized figure of the justice writer still persists and the belief that “the writer is not born but born”, conviction held by recognized novelists and storytellers, has negatively impacted for more than a century the different generations of Mexicans, because those who supposedly know, the writers, do not get tired of insisting whenever they can that the writing is not taught, and that the writing workshops do not produce writers.
On this question, (1) I do not know if it is selfishness the insistence of many veteran writers (and not so veterans) to deny categorically that they can teach to write through workshops and train new writers -which in the near future would be competition for the current owners of the ball-, (2) or blindness, for not seeing what happens, for example, in English-speaking countries where thousands of young people and adults are taught to write, or (3) gross ignorance for Do not look beyond their noses.
Just look at the hundreds of programs for the training of writers that exist in the United States, many formal in universities (such as the Master in Fine Arts MFA), and many others created by the writers themselves (classic ‘writing workshops’ or’ writing boot camps’), which are training new generations.
But not only for authors for literature, but for science, business, academia, religion, politics, and even for home, as mothers who write about their experiences and environments, and also publish and sell; such is the case of Julianna Baggott, who while she was writing and publishing was raising her children, now young adults.
At present, Baggott has published novels and poetry books, film projects and is a lecturer, among other things. The degree of MFA she earned helped her to write while she was a family mother, even though her mother warned her that all she would get would be “a title (of MFA) in hunger and poverty” (Cheryl Dellasega, 2001). Mothers Who Write: Julianna Baggott, The Internet Writing Journal).
And, of course, the person can also learn by himself, but the scriptural self-study is the longest way, especially since in English there are almost no guides or manuals for self-learning, such as the practical guide “Gotham Writer’s Workshop” New York, or the classic Zinsser guide “On Writing Well”, or the other classic “Writing Without Teachers” by Elbow, among many others.
According to Cecilia Capuzzi, of the New York Times, in the year 2014 there were 229 Master in Fine Arts programs in the United States (masters oriented exclusively to train novelists, storytellers, poets, composers, writers, science writers, nonfiction writers, etc.) .), and 152 Master in Arts programs with a specialty in creative writing.
In that same year approximately 4,000 students graduated. For the month of April of 2015, the programs received around 20,000 applications of new income. In addition, this statistic did not take into account non-academic writing workshops (such as those offered by writers or private institutions), which in number surpass those of master’s.
And it is not that all those who enter these programs pretend to become novelists or poets; Not at all, some enroll because they seek to learn various written expression techniques for use in business, in the university, in the media, and even in their own personal lives.
There are quite a few well-known writers who have graduated from programs that teach writing, such as Junot Diaz, Jhumpa Lahiri, Michael Chabon, Phil Klay, David Foster Wallace, Karen Russell, Mary Karr and hundreds more.
Basically, who wants to make writing part of their professional and / or private life, can get a good start committing to a program or well-designed writing workshop; otherwise, by self-taught, the learning curve will be slow and very slow, you will lose years of dedication and delivery to reach an average level.