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The difference between being a creative and a professional writer

I have deadlines, every day. I have an obligation to ‘churn out‘ content. I’m a professional writer and editor. Before you get all impressed, let’s just agree that the moniker of ‘professional‘ is not so important – I’m paid to write and edit and so that’s all I’m saying. In no way do I believe that being ‘professional’ is any guarantee of quality.

I don’t like churning stuff out. I like to craft content; I like to work on a story, on a message and carefully select words and literary imagery to create communications that matter to people.

We might imagine that creative writers are the real writers. They have all the time in the world to finish that last chapter of their novel*. They get to be daring; they get to try interesting semantic locutions and play with syntactic placements. The professional, of course, is bound and constrained by the need to write exactly what is required, what works, and no more.

I beg to differ. Communicating of any kind is creative, and there are usually constraints. We invent a sentence, a totally fresh, unused and unique sentence – never before heard or used – every time we start a new article.

I beg to be different. I don’t want to churn our copy. I don’t even want to churn out good copy. I want to write the truth and glorify it. That means I want to get involved with the emotions of the message. A message without emotion is just a corporate announcement, which will not be remembered, discussed or acted on.

“We are pleased to announce something of utterly no interest to you.”

Writing is creative, but yes there are time constraints and we have to consider the audience and the tone and the vocabulary and a myriad considerations that separate the good writer from the hack. But along with all these constraints, there’s room for creativity and craft.

How do you ensure you create authentic communications? How do you keep your creative engines firing?

I have to get away from my desk. I have to give article ideas and first drafts room to breathe in my sub-conscious. I have to get away from the subject matter and reflect on other things, outside of the content.

What do you do to ensure you don’t grind away at writing, squeezing all the pleasure out of what was once your passion?

[Wedge]

* this aint accurate. Novelists are under immense pressure of course.

About Wedge

I’m Wedge, and this is my website! I’ve worked within internal communications since 2004, managing intranets and digital comms. Now I’m a freelance comms and intranet specialist - I help organisations plan and improve their intranets. I work with other agencies, and write a lot of blog and magazine articles. I founded the Intranet Now conference. You can catch up with me on Twitter - I’m @Wedge.

2 thoughts on “The difference between being a creative and a professional writer

  • I approach both types of writing in more or less the same way, to be honest. I try to get the message across as clearly and succinctly as possible. The difference is that with corporate writing, I am communicating someone else’s messages, whereas with creative writing, I’m describing fictional events as a means of talking about bigger themes – love, sex, death, etc.

  • If the text I have to write is about something I haven’t written before I usually don’t struggle because it is easier to write in an intersting way about something that is still new to yourself. But when it comes to follow-up releases it gets harder and harder. Once you don’t find it interesting anymore it is very difficult to get the readers interested in it. I usually take a break then and do something completly different.

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