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Heartfelt advice from a renowned writer to a novice

Every year, Colum McCann greets his writing students with a stark opening statement: “I can’t teach you anything.”

This isn’t meant to be disheartening. The path ahead will be tough enough as it is.

Instead it’s a gesture of empowerment to let them know that there are no rules, no foolproof formulas, no shortcuts to success. The shape of their creations is entirely up to them.

If any of those aspiring writers (enrolled in the MFA programme at New York’s Hunter College) find that idea daunting, they are not alone.

Creative writing is a solitary craft. No matter how long you’ve been doing it, or how much you’ve achieved, fear and doubt inevitably encroach.

Involving others in that process isn’t easy. When it feels like you’ve … Read the rest