I learned a great deal from writing classes. I don't sneer at them. . . . [W]hat is good is you get a wonderful sense of audience. . . . And it also chops down that terribly unstable vanity that young writers have, you know, where they think, "I'm a great writer," and at the same time they can't take a single criticism, and writing courses are good for that. They weather you. It's a little bit like a kid who wants to play varsity football but never tries out for the team. So you go to that writing class and you get toughened up a little.
Norman Mailer, interview The Academy of Achievement, June 12, 2004