Whether you write fiction, poetry, plays, or screenplays you can absolutely teach yourself how to be a creative writer.

Letter Review believes that in each great work of art are all the rules and lessons you need to create a great work of art. So grab your favourite piece of creative writing and start analysing it! 

Read, Read, Read

Books can be expensive, so remember that you can always visit your local library (if you have one), and you can find lots of resources for free online.

The more you read the more you will know what has been done in your genre and medium before, and the more confident you will be about what it is you need to write, and how to contribute to the field!

Don’t reinvent the wheel each time you pick up the pen. Learn from what others have done, and build on their successes! Or deviate from them entirely to forge your own path. 

Write, Write, Write 

It’s absolutely true that writing is a skill, and you don’t learn skills just from theory. You learn them from doing!

This is actually great news because it means that boffins and nerds can’t come along and trump you just by reading up quickly in the area.

It actually takes years and decades of practice to learn the craft, which means that to some extent all your hard work is being rewarded as you slowly improve

Of course there is an underlying element of natural talent, but talent never wrote a book. 

Most writers would agree that the more you write, the better you get!

Letter Review recommends you get into a regular writing pattern and stick to that! 1000 words in the morning before work. Or one poem a day.

Whatever it is, let time be your friend by writing regularly, and watch the word count mount up over the weeks and years!!!

Read Books by Experts

They say ‘those who can’t do, teach’. This is a mean way of saying only those who can’t actually perform the skill in question resort to teaching. Otherwise, wouldn’t they just be making all their money from their creative writing? 

Letter Review believes this is a reductive way of thinking about creative writing teachers. The ultimate proof is when someone who is extremely good at creative writing says that a certain writing teacher knows what they are talking about, and has really helped them.

If you can find a creative writing teacher like this, then it’s totally worth investigating what they have to say.

Check out the best books on screenwriting here, and the best books on fiction here. 

Also try to find books on writing by your favourite creative writers. Aaron Sorkin gives plenty of classes, for example. There is a book that summarises all the tips on writing that Hemingway wrote.

Watch Classes Online 

Now that you are reading books and watching lectures online, are you still teaching yourself? I think you are.

It’s just a matter of doing it at your own pace, and not paying anyone to be your instructor, right? Some of us are autodidacts and just don’t like to be told what to do or what to think.

Youtube has so many great videos featuring the leading creative writers talking about their craft. Start by putting the names of your favourite authors into the site along with ‘interview.’ 

Creative Writing Workshops

Start a writing workshop with your friends. This can be a low stress and fun way for you to share work with people you trust, and get the benefit of their wisdom. If you hear everyone else’s feedback too then you get lots of wisdom.

Creative Writing Groups and Book Clubs

Sometimes workshops can be a bit overwhelming, or difficult to organise. In that case, just jump in a creative writing group or a book club.

You can meet for dinner, or coffee and discuss a certain book, or discuss any upcoming opportunities or any thoughts you have about creative writing.

Just getting into the society of like minded writers can be a wonderful way to expand your horizons, make friends, and learn a lot about creative writing!


Oliver Adams

Letter Review was founded by Oliver Adams, who is a PhD candidate in Creative Writing, casual academic, and guest lecturer at the University of New South Wales. Oliver Adams has had short stories published in leading literary journals such as Overland, Southerly, Seizure, and TEXT. He has had novels long listed for major awards such as the KYDUMA, has received government funding to produce plays from Create NSW and screenplays from Screen NSW, and has performed / produced professional work at major theatrical venues such as the Sydney Opera House.