As both a fiction and a nonfiction writer, I’ve given the two kinds of writing much thought. For some writers who create memoirs there is a murky line between writing fiction and nonfiction. For me, the writer of mysteries (pure fiction) and business books (pure nonfiction), the line is clearer. Indeed, as a nonfiction writer, I found opportunities to create scenarios for my books. That means I created scenes that gave examples of the particular nonfiction information I was sharing. Nonetheless, the majority of my nonfiction writing dealt with sharing particular tips and research data. It did not require me to tap into the full range of my creativity. That’s the difference between writing the kind of nonfiction I write in which I put ideas and facts together, perhaps in a creative way, but I did not create characters or scenes or events or settings. Recently someone told me he could not write fiction because he didn’t have a creative bone in his body. Nonfiction writing requires some creativity (a different way of looking at something) but not the kind of raw creativity that fiction writers rely on.
For example, in my book Managing Sticky Situations at Work I created a method of communicating in difficult situations. I wanted an acronym that would describe the communication process that my readers would remember. I came up with the Say It Just Right (SIJR) method of communication. Coming up with that name, Say It Just Right, was creative. In my business book, Hire Smart and Keep ‘Em, I wanted the same kind of acronym to describe the strategic interviewing process. I developed the POINT process. Each letter of POINT stands for a part of the process. That, too, was creative.
Indeed, no writer can leave creativity at the door. Nonetheless, the fiction writer has the luxury to allow his or her creativity to expand and reach new (sometimes endless) bounds. Those who write science fiction and fantasy not only create characters they also create worlds and they often people those worlds with uniquely creative creatures.
If you are a fiction writer, you can indeed write nonfiction and vice versa. Good writers appear in all genres.
What are your experiences with creativity? Is it easier to write fiction or nonfiction? Which do you prefer?
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Bernadette Boas says
I find non-fiction to be so much easier than fiction – fiction requires out of the box creativity, vulnerability, emotions and more, which takes guts to dig into and let out. Nonfiction requires expertise; that comes easy to me.
However, I continue working on both, so, too your point, I can write in all genres.
Great post Joan.