Why is it important to teach creative writing?
Many aspirant writers feel that they are not good enough and are unwilling to risk their writing being criticised. Helping writers with some of the basics of voice, character, plot, etc. canput them on the right track, and bolster their confidence.
For those who do venture to submit writing and are rejected, some basic instruction can be enormously helpful in understanding the rejection.
How did you get into teaching creative writing?
For many years I attended the writing workshops run by Anne Schuster. When she became ill, she asked me to take over as facilitator. I had at that stage also done the MA in Creative Writing at UCT. I found it enormously valuable writing with a group of like-minded people.
I also saw the volume and quality of work that came out of these writing workshops, and experienced the tremendous joy of seeing fledgling writers develop and mature in their writing practice. Simple exercises helped to facilitate this process, and it was challenging and creative for me to find exercises which would inspire people to write.
What creative writing exercise or prompt do you use that produces interesting results form writers?
The journey or quest is thought to be one of the plot archetypes for many fiction works. An exercise that starts with a journey and weaves in a starting point or place, a destination and a description of the journey, always produces interesting results.
Throwing in an animal, either as a companion, something that is met along the way, or even the animal as the protagonist, has produced inspired pieces of writing.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to new writers who are at the beginning stages of exploring their craft.
You get better by practicing writing, so try to develop a daily writing practice. Often the most difficult thing is to make the time to write regularly.
Any particular resource (website or book or anything) that you would recommend to writers?
On Writing by Stephen King.
Chantal Stewart is a medical doctor and also has an MA Creative Writing. She facilitates creative writing workshops and also writes as much as she can in her spare time.
She has had short stories and poetry published in anthologies including Twist and Women Flashing. She is currently working on her second novel.
Information about the writing workshops that Chantal runs can be found at: www.facebook.com/westerncapecreativewriting