Creative vs Commercial Writing

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  1. WryLilt profile image89
    WryLiltposted 13 years ago

    I've been writing ever since I was a kid - poetry mostly with a few short stories.

    I've always wanted to be a writer. Always knew that's the one thing I wanted to be.

    However I always had this idea that to be 'a writer' you either had to write novels/creative work OR write for a newspaper.

    So basically what I'm asking is what type of writing did you do first (creative or commercial such as informational, reviews etc)? And how do you think that style of writing helped you as a writer, in all aspects including learning, ability and earning?

    1. saleheensblog profile image61
      saleheensblogposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      Ok first let me tell that i am way too poor in English. here in my country i use to write a lot in my own language and I write well enough. I have been awarded nationally for few times as well. In my school days i started writing poem and short stories. Then I wrote short film scripts and then moved on writing free length film story and script in my collage life. Now I am in university and I have started working as a journalist few months ago. I am only 21 year old but I have got a lot of experience as I had the privilege to work in different sectors of writing. I must say writing style is one thing that makes your readers remember you. Writing style is almost like an identity card to me. I only say a person a creative writer when his/her writing make the reader pause and picture the imagery in mind on what is written about. It’s your writing style what and only what can turn your words in visual scenario. If you have written a poem from your imagination and the reader could never imagine what you imagined you are a looser. A writing style never satisfy a rather increase his/her thirst like what I say; "It is finished but yet to be finished". I have no idea on commercial writing. As a journalist I can say it’s a short of technical writing that makes the reader to respond quickly as it was a trigger to hit your mind.
      Oh God, I think I couldn't write what i wanted to do.

  2. profile image0
    Website Examinerposted 13 years ago

    A "writer" by my definition is someone who sets out to write something - a story, an article, a book - and then completes it. My reason for this definition is that I've seen so many unfinished scripts that staying power is a very important part of what a writer makes.

    I will follow this discussion with interest.

  3. Sufidreamer profile image78
    Sufidreamerposted 13 years ago

    Interesting post - this has always been a tough question. It seems to be one of those things where everybody has their own definition of what a writer is.

    I started off as an academic writer and later moved into content, sales, technical and ghost writing. Because of this background, I have a much broader definition of 'a writer.' Technical writers, academic writers, ghost-writers, speech writers etc are all skilled professional writers to me, and most of them are just as creative and talented as creative writers and journalists. Personally, I tend to use 'author' for published writers, as it seems to be a clearer distinction.

    My definition of a writer is somebody with the ability to mould words and shape language, rather than just sticking strings of words together. The analogy I use is that creative writers are woodcarvers, commercial writers are cabinet makers - both use the same medium for different ends smile

    I find that writing for a living improves your ability very quickly - if you don't improve, you starve. 'Tis a steep learning curve! big_smile

    1. WryLilt profile image89
      WryLiltposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      That's a really good analogy!

    2. Peter Hoggan profile image69
      Peter Hogganposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      Sufi, do you see the techniques of traditional direct response copywiters of value on the web.

      1. Sufidreamer profile image78
        Sufidreamerposted 13 years agoin reply to this

        Sure - I find that a lot of marketing techniques are the same offline as online - a few tweaks here and there, but the basic principles are little different. 90% crap, 10% good stuff!

        Over the past few years, people became 'marketing immune' because of the sheer amount of recycled crap and atrocious squeeze pages out there.

        Now, the old direct response marketing techniques are coming back - writing a first paragraph that grabs the attention, and then guiding people slowly down the page, is far more successful than crappy sales pages with capital letters, bright fonts and lots of exclamation marks.

        "Let the customer think that THEY made the decision to buy" - that is the key, both online and offline smile

        Only one man's opinion, but I feel that writing online in most formats has bottomed out, and a lot of the old writing warriors who earned their spurs in the pre-internet days will suddenly find their skills in demand again. 90% of direct response copy online follows the same, tired template - originality is making a big comeback smile

    3. profile image0
      cosetteposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      thank you for making the distinction between creative writers, professional writers, authors and journalists.

      to answer the original question, i was an editor before i became a writer, and i think that was really good, actually, because i developed the eye and mindset of an editor that never left me. the type of editing and writing i do is technical writing, although i also do other kinds of editing and writing (even marketing collateral), as the same skill set can be applied to lots of different venues. if you want to get into writing, there are many opportunities besides newspaper writing or book publishing. the more diverse your portfolio, the more earning potential you have, as well as business opportunities.

  4. Joy56 profile image69
    Joy56posted 13 years ago

    you do need to have great patience, and skill to succeed as a writer, earning money.  I play about with writers and writing, never taking it too seriously enjoying it, wishing i was better, but not wanting the pressure that Sufi, must get sometimes from deadlines etc.   Earning money at a hobby is nice, but not having to, is nicer, more enjoyment..... Does that make sense.  This is only my theory anyway

    1. WryLilt profile image89
      WryLiltposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      Perfect sense. I'm studying Journalism at uni but never plan to be a Journalist.

      I love writing. I write for money now, online, but I still get to pick and choose and write what I love.

      I think if writing became a 'job' with deadlines and specific guidelines then I wouldn't like it as much.

      1. saleheensblog profile image61
        saleheensblogposted 13 years agoin reply to this

        Wring on what you are interested makes it worth reading, in these case you automatically go through an unique style while writing. Creative writing is all about feeling it, you can't feel when you don't love it.

        1. sofs profile image78
          sofsposted 13 years agoin reply to this

          I am only an apprentice here, trying to follow my second true love, writing.  I like the way sufi  puts , he is a master crafts man I guess!

  5. lrohner profile image69
    lrohnerposted 13 years ago

    Perfect words, perfect analogy, Sufi. I do not have a creative bone in my body, so I guess I'm a cabinet maker. smile But you're right--I am not a writer by birth. I am a writer by trade. Huge difference.

    I always enjoyed writing, but it wasn't until a few years ago that I discovered that I can actually get paid for doing it despite the fact that I am not writing a book or working for a magazine or newspaper. And that knowledge came from a dear friend of mine who is an ex-magazine editor and twice-published author. She taught me the "writing ropes" as only an editor can. Anyone who has ever worked with a professional editor will totally get what I mean. smile

  6. skitterdude profile image56
    skitterdudeposted 13 years ago

    I took some creative writing courses while in college. I actually started off wanting to be a writer (of fiction) and started off with an English degree. I found the English program really doesn't prepare you to be a writer though -- it's all critical analysis, NOT actual writing.

    Creative writing was much more in tune with being a writer -- you actually had to create something as opposed to regurgitate the same old crap as all the 100 other students in the class.

    So...if you want to be a real writer, creative writing of some sort is the way to go.

    My .02

  7. jonihnj profile image68
    jonihnjposted 13 years ago

    I've made a living as a writer for a few decades. I started out as a journalist and moved into commercial copywriting. I do agree that having to write to put food on the table keeps you sharp, especially now that I work as a freelance writer. In fact, when I find myself getting a little too comfortable writing for a longtime client, and sense their unhappiness, I'll give myself a figurative smack and make sure the next piece I write is the best it can possibly be.

    I enjoy writing about challenging topics, especially technological and health-care subjects, because they keep me on my toes as a writer. I am challenged to master the subject through research and asking the "dumb" questions, etc., until I understand a topic so thoroughly I can then write a piece that is really clear to my readers. And of course, I always try to be as creative as the assignment permits. 

    However, commercial writing absolutely cuts into creative writing time if one allows it. Ernest Hemingway once said he quit the newspaper business for this reason - he felt it was killing his creativity, both in terms of inspiration and in giving him the necessary time to write. Of course, we're not all Ernest Hemingways, and if we want to write for a living, we usually do not enjoy the luxury of settling in to write that great first novel AND paying the bills, etc.

    Bottom line: Struggle to find a balance. Schedule time for creative writing just as you would schedule a client appointment. And, VERY IMPORTANT, always find ways to share your creative writing with an audience. If you're a poet, attend open mic events or submit to smaller journals, or post here, etc. Find outlets to publish your writing. If you can afford it, self-publish or find other writers to share the costs of self-publishing an anthology. It's being driven by a specific mission and deadline that keeps us writing and striving to reach our best writing threshold - and then surpass it, whether creatively or commercially.

    I also respectfully disagree with the commenter who said reading literature doesn't help us become better writers. I find that when I read an amazing piece of writing, I become determined to work toward that level in my own writing. OK, I'll admit that initially I'm intimidated, but ultimately determination (or maybe fear of looking like a loser!) sets in. My current book project has to do with a real person in Irish history. As background research, I'm reading every book I can get my hands on involving Irish history and culture. I'm now reading a book about the IRA by Tim Patrick Coogan, a former journalist and respected Irish historian. He's so darned good, not only in understanding and explaining his subject material, but in revealing his compassion for the people involved and, above all, in stringing words together in such a beautiful, elegant way. As I read his book last night, I felt a real fear that I would never be able to write my humble little book. I'm still shaking off that feeling by reminding myself that my book involves entirely different subject matter and will be written from a different perspective - my own.

    1. Sufidreamer profile image78
      Sufidreamerposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      That is an excellent point, and one that transcends writing 'boundaries.' For example, an academic writer can benefit from reading Hemingway's stripped down, lively style, as a way to write creatively in as few words as possible. I remember reading a car manual once (I think that it may have been an old SAAB manual), and it was a brilliant piece of writing with a delightful flow - something that creative writers could learn a lot from.

      I think that we are often guilty of trying to pigeonhole ourselves as technical writers or fiction writers etc. In fact, the boundaries are much more porous than that - there is a fine line between poetry and technical writing, or good sales copy and emotive prose. smile

      I might have to track down that Coogan book - it sounds very interesting smile

      1. BDazzler profile image78
        BDazzlerposted 13 years agoin reply to this

        It also helps if you have multiple life times of experiences, can time travel and know how to avoid ducks ... wink

      2. WryLilt profile image89
        WryLiltposted 13 years agoin reply to this

        I must admit it wasn't till I joined hubpages that I would ever have thought of someone writing a 'car manual' as a writer. But now I'm starting to see anyone who puts down written words in a way that I enjoy as a writer - whether in an advert or in a novel.

  8. psycheskinner profile image82
    psycheskinnerposted 13 years ago

    There are plenty of options for being a professional writer and many people use more than one.  I am a science (technical) writer, have also written a textbook and also a few novels.  I am also trying to expand my online freelancing and writing for magazines.  To make a full time living of writing you have to know how to grab an opportunity and run with it.

  9. gracenotes profile image89
    gracenotesposted 13 years ago

    This is my first real opportunity to make money with my writing, and I look forward to enhancing my skills.

    I have learned a lot from writing teachers over the years, and from related books.  Each teacher had something special to share, even though I did not always appreciate his/her technique to the fullest.

    As a youngster, I started out competing in a school activity called "ready writing" -- kind of like impromptu speaking, but on paper.  As I got older, I wrote letters to the editors of magazines, and noted that some of them actually got published.

    So, yes, learning creative writing skills was good for me, in addition to being an English major in college.  I won a writing contest years ago that was sponsored by an international organization in which I participated.  I've never been one to write fiction, though I do write a little poetry.

    I feel very comfortable writing on health subjects, but that is because I was a medical librarian for so long.  Some of my health-related hubs have been very successful on HP.

  10. Arthur Fontes profile image75
    Arthur Fontesposted 13 years ago

    I started writing, well typing nine months ago when I joined HP.

    Talk about a steep learning curve.  smile

    I think I can I think I can Whoo Whoo!

  11. readytoescape profile image61
    readytoescapeposted 13 years ago

    There is also a considerable disparity when discussing the “craft” of writing. Especially when such writing is “for hire,” as exampled by the thousands of ads for “content” and the fabulous riches and rewards of pennies per article or CTR versus other types and styles of commercial writing where the rewards are actually tangible.

  12. Bill Manning profile image67
    Bill Manningposted 13 years ago

    I never even thought much about writing until someone asked me if I could write adult blog post. Yes, full adult text. smile

    Surprisingly I was good at it and made a lot of money doing it. However after about the 5,000th article I got burned out, there's only so many ways you can describe "the act"! lol

    At the same time I was making my own websites and started writing those. Now I hire someone to write adult text for me while I do my own writing, at least most of it, on my mainstream sites. smile


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