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What is the Difference Between Creative Writing and Content Writing?

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  • Post last modified:January 4, 2023
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Writers tend to come from one of two worlds: creative writing or content writing. (Sometimes, like me, you have a foot in each of the wordly worlds.)

Creative writing focuses on artistic elements to tell stories. While it may have a purpose to persuade or inform, it often focuses more heavily on entertaining. Creative writing includes short stories, screenplays, novels, and other fiction works.

Content writing, however, is writing that is either technical in nature or is used for marketing purposes. Content writing, while it may be clever or creative at times, has a purpose other than being entertaining. Content writing is there to persuade and inform individuals. Instruction manuals, social media ad copy, and SEO articles (like this one) are all examples of content writing.

Creative Writing

Creative writing is often what we think of when we’re young and say we want to be writers when we grow up. It is an art form and allows us to explore themes without having an ulterior motive (in most situations).

Don’t get me wrong, creative writing and money-making are tied together. Everything in our world seems to be after all. Studios want the most creative and catching scripts to produce highly-grossing films and publishers want bestsellers written. But a studio will still hire a copywriter to handle ad copy for the films and publishers will still hire a writer to handle the blurb on the back of the book—these are content writing examples. Creative writing and content writing don’t live in a vacuum and often intersect, in life and within our own careers.

Creative Writing Examples

Creating writing examples are more easily spotted in your daily life and you tend to recognize them when you’re interacting with them. This is because creative writing is gneerally consumed for pleasure and not a necessity. (Or in marketing content writing’s case, because they’ve been pushed to you via ad spend.)

Here’s a nearly comprehensive list of creative writing examples:

  • Novels
  • Novellas
  • Short stories
  • Scripts
  • Lyrics
  • Personal essays
  • Journalistic pieces
  • Self-help books
  • Memoirs

Careers in Creative Writing

Creative writing careers include:

  • Poets
  • Authors of fiction and nonfiction works
  • Screenwriters and scriptwriters
  • Journalists
  • Lyricists
  • Game writers and narrative designers

Content Writing

Content writing is the writing that we experience throughout our lives that is conveying information to us. It’s the instruction manual you read while assembling Ikea furniture. It’s the SEO articles you come across when researching which keyboard to purchase. It’s even the cutesy social media posts that companies put out to make you like them. Content writing can be creative in nature, it can be clever, but it does not exist solely to entertain you.

Content Writing Examples

Content writing is all around you. In fact, you may be interacting regularly with content writing that you don’t even think about.

Here’s a nearly comprehensive list of content writing examples:

  • SEO blogs
  • Advertising copy
  • Social media copy
  • Product descriptions
  • Web copy
  • Technical manuals
  • White papers
  • Marketing video scripts
  • Infographics

Careers in Content Writing

Content writing careers include:

  • SEO writers
  • Copywriters
  • UX writers
  • Technical writers

The Blurred Lines Between Creative Writing and Content Writing

You’ll find that looking at the examples of both creative writing and content writing, the type of writing can be even further sectioned off. You won’t find romance novelists and news journalists agreeing they do the same type of writing. Just as someone working in UX writing considers themselves far different from a marketing copywriter producing ad copy. The world of writing is massive and there are many types of writing that seem to be in a category all their own which is why dividing between creative writing vs. content writing, to me, is an odd differentiation.

If you’re looking for a career in words, you should consider first if you want to tell fiction or nonfiction and then if you want to persuade or simply distill information in easily comprehensible explanations. That will get you far closer to the type of writing you’re interested in rather than picking between creative writing or content writing. And remember, as writers we often end up doing both if you’re approaching this career hoping to make a living.

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