1. Creativity is taught from university lecturer's perspective or personal experience.
With creativity being such a hard area to define, it certainly makes things more difficult for students if their lecturer to some extent - whether intentionally or unintentionally - imposes his own definition of creativity on them. Creativity should certainly operate by some rules, otherwise it is little more than nonsense. I, personally, would always shy away from any teaching that says creativity can be anything you want it to be. The purpose of writing is to communicate, and if people call being terrible grammatically, spelling things poorly, crafting sentences in a way that is obviously confusing, creative - I beg to disagree.
However, in my own creative writing course, the lecturer instructed us to write poems that neither spoke directly about our topic nor outlined it. We basically had to write about something without mentioning it at all, and we were not allowed to use personification in our metaphors either. This takes the show-don't-tell principle to an extreme that I would view as unhelpful. Other people who read my poem had no idea what it was about and felt excluded. But the lecturer viewed this as creative - as the only correct way to write poetry.
I look back at the great poets and note that they seldom followed these rules - at least, not to this extent. Yet, they were still creative. I came away from this part of the course confused, with still less idea of how to write poetry than I had previously.
2. Creativity, in general, is being taught as a method of self gratification.
A number of the modern poems that I read both in my course and in books that writing schools have produced have made absolutely zero sense to me. There is no clear communication, and the reader in most cases would probably come away bewildered. While studying literary analysis at university, I was instructed to read the book To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf - an author who is generally upheld as being a fundamental influence on today's literature. This book had some beautiful description in it, but overall, I found it the most introverted and bizarre thing I have ever read. It was clearly some sort of journal of Viriginia Woolf's observations on life, and made almost no sense to me. I was speaking to an almost eighty-year-old woman the other day on the same subject, and she commented that this book was "awful" and "confusing". Is literature really meant to confuse? Should the author be the only one who can understand their own work? I don't think so. I refuse to believe it. God gave humans the ability to communicate, and that is what writing should be primarily used for. Of course you have to write about things you can really feel. That is crucial. But you must make sense; you must communicate rather than isolate. The fact that this kind of literature is being extolled in our universities shows a disturbing trend: writing is now being taught as a kind of journey the author goes on alone - a sort of self-discovery, for one's own gratification. Self-discovery is good, but what you write should have some good impact on humanity. Alienating readers, I believe, is nothing short of a crime.
I am aware that there can be two opinions on this matter; but this is, overall, what I have found to be true in my own experience. And sometimes I wonder if the reason that modern poetry seldom sells, and is largely appreciated by literary critics, is what I have just outlined above.
3. All things are permissible in art - or so we're told.
This is perhaps the most worrying thing I noticed while studying creative writing in university. Sex and swearwords were lauded in other people's writing, and sometimes even encouraged in our own. I truly believe that both of these things are a poor excuse for literature. Some of the greatest writers in history got away with merely hinting at these things. Certainly, they exist. But is there any need to make them so explicit? One can write about something without having to drag oneself through the gutter.
Certainly, sex is something that greatly interests many people. But the Bible makes it pretty clear that this is to be kept between the man and woman involved. It is a gift to be privately enjoyed between a married couple. In recent times, I wrote about a couple that married and conceived a child in the same night. Nevertheless, I never actually wrote the scene of conception. It was hinted at in the morning in very clean dialogue, and the pregnancy was announced later. I personally do not think sex was created for the entertainment of an audience.
As a Christian, I believe that swearwords are wrong. Also, as writers, we should uphold good standards of language, rather than degrading them. Nevertheless, there are other excellent reasons for not swearing in our own work. For instance, we are told to avoid clichés. What could be more cliché than swearing? Swearwords are also seldom creative - if creativity is to be viewed as thinking outside the box. Swearwords are so frequently used that they are as commonplace as gravel. It severely lowers the quality of writing to include numerous swearwords. I am conscious, however, that in portraying certain characters, we may feel it necessary to include a swearword. In these cases, even though it is not the most powerful literary device, I would say something like:
"Cutting his finger by mistake, he swore profoundly."
There will be many who disagree with me on this issue.
In conclusion, these are three reasons why I believe creative writing courses may not be so helpful for aspiring authors. I could have listed other things too. For instance, writing creatively is often something that is best self-taught, peer-reviewed, and practised over and over, experience being the biggest qualifier in the writing world. If you read excellent literature and study it on your own, you can still write well. However, these are three of the biggest things that I think are worth considering before enrolling in a creative writing course.