Can writing be taught?

Or rather, what aspects of writing can be taught?

Several interesting Livejournal writing discussions aimed at understanding various aspects of craft have gotten me thinking about this–or rather, thinking about it again.

I’ve always found writing classes and speakers a sort of mixed bag–I’ll pick up (or be reminded of) one or two interesting ideas each session I attend, but I’ve never been to a class that taught me how to write.

Critique groups and critique-focused professional workshops are more helpful; I can think of some very useful things I’ve learned here, things to do with the interweaving of emotion and description, with large scale plotting, and with trusting my own voice.

But still, it seems most things one learns in writing one has to learn oneself, at the keyboard, alone with the story. Critiquers can point out where the problem areas are (and this is critical, as we all have myopic vision about our own work), but their solutions are rarely my solutions; I have to find the right fixes–and the right techniques to advance my writing–alone.

Can anyone tell anyone else how to write, and have it work? Can writing be passed on from one person to another at all?

Or is this largely a trial and error game, only that’s somehow harder to accept than the idea that if one enrolls in the right course or reads the right book, they’ll find the answers, and all else will follow?

Or is it that some things can be taught, but others can’t, and which is which varies from writer to writer?

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