Writing, the new mental hospital?

Continuing with my Amazing Writer series, is this latest gem published in the Guardian about Hanif Kureishi (Buddah of Suburbia, My Beautiful Laundrette).

“The writing courses, particularly when they have the word ‘creative’ in them, are the new mental hospitals. But the people are very nice.” 

The article is interesting, particularly as Kureishi himself teaches writing. He isn’t the first writer to slam writing courses. Flannery O’Connor, when asked if universities stifle the creativity of writers, said, “My opinion is that they don’t stifle enough of them.”

Kureishi’s mental institution comparison in this case is possibly overstated, as everyone knows writers are mad anyway. I mean, one would have to be to put up with all the abuse. Read the rest here.


  1. Honestly, I’m surprised more creative writing teachers aren’t this sour. I mean I’m bitter as hell about everything involving writing, and all I do is attempt it and surf related websites.That guy has to look each of us wanna-bes in the eyes and say “keep trying” when you know that’s the LAST thing he wants to say.

  2. I just wanted to add that Stephen King in On Writing, alluded to the issue of writing courses (paraphrasing here) by saying writers can always improve in some area or other, but that good writers are born not made. He says a bad writer can become an average writer, but never a great one. Maybe that’s what Kureishi is also getting at. It must be frustrating to not be able to get that across to your students. However, having read much harsher things said by writers I admire — such as Flannery O’Connor, who famously said, when asked if universities stifled the creativity of writers, “My opinion is that they don’t stifle enough of them” — I’m still of the mind that students want a variety of things, including input, honesty and support from their instructors. Publishing is a different matter.

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