Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Isn't it all creative?

Someone asked me recently if I 'did creative writing'. I know she knows I've done academic, non-fiction writing, so I assumed that by 'creative writing' she meant fiction.

But isn't all writing, whether fiction or non-fiction, creative? Whether it's a novel, a scholarly article, a letter or a shopping list, the person who wrote it created something that didn't exist before. A novelist creates characters and situations, but a non-fiction writer creates ideas and interpretations.

Universities and other education providers call their courses  'Creative Writing'. But if I were ever to teach a course for writers, I think I'd find a different name for it. 


  1. Yes, I suppose all writing is creative to some extent, but if one was writing an academic article one would not want to appear to be overly 'creative'! There is of course creativity in the choice of subject and then the subsequent choices one makes. I suppose there are degrees of creativity, dependent upon the amount of imagination which needs to be used, and if one approaches it this way, the most creative writers would not simply be fiction writers, but the kind of writer who imagines every aspect of the subject, for example, the most extreme kinds of science fiction or space travel or the paranormal. I have been trying to think of a label other than 'creative writing,' but it is not easy, and I eventually concluded that 'fiction' was not such a bad label after all.

  2. A non-fiction writer can use language creatively to make his or her reports or articles more interesting to read - or just more comprehensible! Some academic texts are a joy to read, others are impenetrable.

    But I agree that 'fiction' and 'non-fiction' are perfectly acceptable definitions.

    Thanks for commenting. (By the way, I think there's a typo in your name as it's displayed on your comment. I don't know if you can edit?)