What is creative writing? Is there a correct definition anywhere? That is what I hoped to find when I Googled the term “creative writing” a while back. But the answers were disappointing for me as a pure beginner, and puzzling. Here’s what is written as a definition for creative writing in Wikipedia:
“Creative writing is considered to be any writing, fiction, poetry, or non-fiction, that goes outside the bounds of normal professional, journalistic, academic, and technical forms of literature. Works which fall into this category include novels, epics, short stories, and poems. Writing for the screen and stage, screenwriting and playwriting respectively, typically have their own programs of study, but fit under the creative writing category as well.
Yeah well… take that for creative writing… But it’s clear that even Wikipedia does not give a clear definition but only says that it is considered any writing which is outside the bounds. To rephrase that:
In any subject, concepts can only be understood by examples. Fiction, poetry and non-fiction are all examples of creative writing. We’ll look at them in detail in future instalments of this series. For now, let’s see what constitutes creative writing.
The Work Which You Can Recognise as Creative Writing
As said before, fiction, poetry and non-fiction are the examples of creative writing. They are examples because they are obviously creative and not necessarily true (with the exception of non-fiction). Fiction is written to entertain and educate. We love reading stories. Although there are some true stories, most stories are nothing but fiction. Then there is poetry, of which there are many forms. Poetry books, sonnets, haikus, pantoums, etc.
The above examples are obviously creative writing. But now we come to more subjective material. Ever heard of an autobiography or a biography? I’m sure you have. Then there is its distant cousin the memoir. Famous people make millions by publishing memoirs, and some of them are popular reading material. Famous personalities also write autobiographies or pay someone to write their biography. This is also constituted under creative writing.
The fact is that these types of writing are not written to entertain (and personally I’m bored to sleep by them) but to educate (in some cases) and to inform (in most cases). In bookstores, biographies and autobiographies are sold along with stories. If I may be honest, I have never seen people buy them. Then again, this may be because I’m too busy checking out the latest novels.
And so that is what constitutes creative writing in a nutshell. Now let’s look at the work which you can recognise as not creative writing, and to use its technical term, technical writing.
The Work Which You Can Recognise as Other Professional Forms of Writing
Most of the writing written in the world falls under this category, technical writing. Advertisements. Web copy. Copywriting. Product descriptions. Textbooks. Reference material such as encyclopaedias. Letters (of a certain kind such as formal letters to get an interview etc).
Words which appear everywhere, on your TV screen, on the computer and on the paper. All technical writing. Technical writing is in some ways easier to write than creative writing. But it too is governed by rules, and has its own do’s and don’ts.
A further comparison of creative writing and technical writing will be made in a future post.
Writers which compose the material of books are called authors regardless of the content and style of the material. This is one area where creative writing and technical writing share a similarity.
It goes without saying that technical writing is not written to entertain therefore I find it rather boring to read and so do other people. Surely you’ve read the Terms & Conditions of some website. How boring it is to read. Though you see words that make sense, you are not moved by them. Whereas in creative writing… if it’s really good… you can’t put it down.
Creative Writing Means What You Believe It Means
Is creative writing an art or a craft? Of course, the debate will never finish. But I do believe that it is both. Therefore it is something special of an art and a craft. Forget about definitions. Use your own creativity and find your very own meaning of creative writing. Somebody said that writers have a gift. Especially creative writers. Creative writers have the power to entertain someone, to make someone laugh, to make someone cry. To make someone think.
And so we see that creative writing does not deserve a clear definition, but attention and a special meaning. I love creative writing. I love reading it and I love writing it. Are you like me? If you are, then what are you waiting for? Open that word processor, and start typing. You never know, you might find a hidden masterpiece.