When we think of writing most of us think of Creative writing though increasingly people do think of Technical writing. A hundred and fifty years ago there was no concept of Technical writing. Industry was just beginning and so the need for Technical writing had no yet arisen.
Creative writing saw a huge spurt with the arrival of printing presses and the world saw a rise in Creative writing and this was not just prose but plays poetry and songs.
But today as we stand in the early part of the 21st Century the rise in technical writing and its importance has been a game changer. It has opened a world of immense opportunities for people across the world, especially the English speaking world.
Those who are not of a Creative bent of mind, but have a passion for writing can now indulge in this passion by experimenting with Technical writing instead. But before a person chooses to be a Creative Writer or a Technical Writer a bit of home work to understand what one is more suitable for one, needs to be checked.
There is one sure shot way and that is by taking a holistic training in both Technical writing as well as Creative writing.
The idea behind a course especially one that we at Henry Harvin provide which comes with a dedicated trainer is that you get practice at writing and more importantly having a dedicated trainer means that you get feedback on style and what are your strengths and weaknesses are. This actually helps you to be more confident and makes it easier to take the next step which is ……
What Am I Better Suited For?
To be a Creative Writer or a Technical Writer. Once you take that decision then you need to work on your skill set depending on where your strengths lie.
Before I go further, remember “Rome was not built in a day.”
What do I mean by my earlier statement? It means to be a Technical Writer or a Creative writer needs the following:
Focus, dedication and most importantly a strong hold over the English Language. If all the points are a check then you are good to go as far as looking at a career in Writing be it as a Creative Writer or as a Technical Writer.
FIRST UNDERSTAND THE GENRES
In Creative Writing and Technical Writing there are various genres. So let’s just first understand the wider scope of each arena:
|CREATIVE WRITING||TECHNICAL WRITING|
|Plays||End user Manual|
|Fictions (Novels, Short stories)||Medical Papers|
|Movie and T.V Scripts||Articles for Technical Magazines|
Given above is a list of options for both Technical Writing and Creative Writing: This will give you a greater scope for focusing on what kind of writing you are wanting to take up. I have just mentioned a few areas; but as the world becomes more technology driven the areas in the sphere of Technical writing will grow exponentially.
To Help you on the way to becoming a Creative Writer:
Some pointers to keep in mind when planning on writing a Creative piece. Be it a short story, a novel or a play some basic factors remain the same for instance:
- Static Place: Even before starting a Creative Writing project the first thing you need to do is decide on where you are going to sit and work, this work place cannot change and must stay static. The best authors the world over have a favourite place in their home where they sit and write, its most often the place where they wrote their first hit novel and that becomes their go to place when it come s to writing.
- Journal : Before starting on a Creative Writing project, start keeping a journal, make a note of the various ideas, thoughts, phrases, words and idioms as well as sentences from great literary works that resonate with you.
- Check out Authors: Read a lot of books in the area that you wish to write in; for example if you wish to write a Detective story, then read a few detective books of different authors to understand how they build the plot, the characters in the story, how they flesh out their characters and give substance to the characters, the description of the surroundings be it a house, a town or even a police station. It’s importance of how interesting the setting of the story is.
- Your Hook: What is your opening sentence/ paragraph going to be? Will be strong enough to hook the reader into plunging into the book and reading it with no thought to time or place. Such a book is called a ”Page Turner”, this is because you keep turning the pages of the book as it has so captured the attention of the reader they do not wish to put it down.
- Character Building: How do all your characters come together, how are you seeing your plot through, all this also needs to have been jotted down during step 1. So that you do not hit a dead end.
- The End: Finally what is the ending, many a times it’s the ending that makes a potential reader decide to read the book. Therefore, if that is weak, then your book is sure to fail. How do you make your ending strong by weaving your characters to be effective and for a reader to be able to visualise them.
- Know your audience: By this I mean who are you writing for: Is it for young people of school going age, older teens, middle aged readers, the elderly or are you writing for kids. Once you know decide on who you are writing for, then the entire tone of the writing has be constructed to resonate with the audience, certain phraseology may resonate with older teens but not with middle aged readers.
- Power of Imagery: Your visual imagery has to be powerful to cope with the distractions and competition the world of social media like you tube and facebook offer and not to forget T.V and the movies. Even if your story is for Kindle, it still needs powerful and vibrant imagery.
- Editing: Your editing post the first draft needs to be very fair and critical, it’s very rare that a writer is able to write a flawless piece on the first draft. Even seasoned authors are known to have written many drafts before the final version is ready for publishing.
- Practice writing as no skill improves without practice. Also revise and revise till it reads well and becomes an art.
- Additionally while editing check for spelling errors it’s advisable to refer to a good online dictionary : Merriam Webster is my go to dictionary
- Check for sentence structure; MS word does help to an extent but also check sentences through grammerly
- Also check for Plagiarism, most people put your work through : www.plagscan.com or www.plagspotter.com
- Cover: Whether it is going to be an online publication or hard copy you need to have an appealing cover, if you are able to design it yourself great, else look for a course in Digital Content Writing where you learn how to design on the digital platforms like Word Press, Canva and mail Chimp. This will be an added boost as you would be able to design your own cover and save on hiring someone to do the needful.
- Finally: Last but not least it is very important to have a routine as a Creative Writer the tendency to write when you feel like could result in you never finishing what you started. So a routine has be in place even if you are not in the mood to write on a particular day, it is important to go through the motions of sitting at your regular place and working. The words will start to flow when you make this a habit.
To Help you become a Technical Writer
Some points to keep in mind when wanting to do Technical Writing and this will vary from Creative writing in some ways. However there are some points that overlap with Technical writing. The STEPS that overlap are Steps 1, 7 and 9:
- Understanding the material: This is something that every Technical Writer must do diligently. First understand the subject to be written on and for what purpose is it being written for. Is it for example: an instructional manual , user manual or a technical product brochure
- Know your audience: While this has been discussed earlier as Step 7, in the case of technical writing the writing has to be tailored depending on whether the writing is required for an audience that are “tech savvy” or lay people. This is the most important part of technical writing as depending on the audience your language will be either more technically driven for a tech savvy person or very simple for a lay person. If this is not taken into account you make write it in the wrong manner and it would then require to be re written.
- Testimonials: While these would have been provided by the client it is important to embed this in a tactful way for the reader. It cannot come as a promotion and needs to be subtle not only in its language but also on its placement in the article itself. This requires great tact and focus and a clear understanding of your readers. Only if a testimonial is genuine will your article have credibility.
- Avoid using Acronyms: While using acronyms is common within companies between colleagues in the arena of technical Writing this is not acceptable, not every acronym is known to everyone, also there will be people who are tech savvy in areas other than that of the product you are talking about. Further, if you are writing for a lay audience then they will not understand the acronyms, this warning is also to be kept in mind for jargon, which tends to be industry specific.
- Licence: By this I mean as a Technical Writer you do not have the license to embellish your writing with vibrancy and prose. The language has to be simple, clear and to the point.
- Sentence structure: The best kind of Technical writers, are those that are methodical and their sentence structure is short and simple. In fact the underlying rule for Technical Writing is: Keep it Short and Simple. If you stick to this formula you will see that your resultant effort is well received.
- Appropriate Word usage: This is also a very important factor to keep in mind. There can be no substitution and one has to stick to tried and tested words and phrases. Technical writing is even more focussed on the readers need and not as an arena to unleash your creative steak.
- Formats: For a Technical writer to be a success he/ she needs to keep the format of the Technical Writing piece very neat, with space between paragraphs. Also the fonts need to be simple and easy to decipher even for readers who are not native English speakers. The colour schemes of fonts and formats are pre-determined by the client and are normally the same colour scheme as the client Logo.
What are the 20 Differences Between Creative Writing And Technical Writing?
There are many differences between Technical Writing and Creative Writing, however given below are the differences, which I would like you to make a note of, while on the road to discovering which kind of writing you are best suited for.
- Scope of Opportunity: In the current scenario, where 90% of the nations are in a lock down mode the focus is moving faster toward having everything online. This means that from businesses to education to marketing and retail is all looking to go online. Major retailers the world over are cutting back on brick and mortar and going online. In such a situation people will be on their computers and laptops even more, this where the Technical Writing will have great scope for writing various kinds of user manuals, technical material for online training and technical material for schools and colleges. In the case of Creative Writing the need to write for online readers will pose a challenge for older authors while the younger ones who have not adapted yet will need to.
- Formats of Technical Writing versus Creative Writing: Technical Writing in every category has a certain format. Each format in a given category needs to be adhered to. This is not the case with Creative Writing. In Creative Writing, there is no prescribed format, each author has the license to develop his own style and this has no limits.
- Word usage: In the case of Creative Writing there are no limits to word usage, even foreign words can be introduced in the script and this is increasingly common place. In the case of Technical Writing, the word usage has to be in conformity to a client requirement and has to follow certain protocols where words that are used are often times repetitive. The example I can think off is a Toaster maintenance manual, whether the toaster is manufactured by Bajaj or Braun, the maintenance manual will have the same phraseology, the only difference would be in the features some companies may offer more features than the other but in comparing the language of the Maintenance manual, I have seen that they are pretty much similar.
- Vibrancy: If you look at Creative Writing the words have to be more vibrant and colourful. This is because Creative Writing is meant to draw the reader in to the world that the author is describing. Vibrancy, is therefore, not a requirement for Technical Writing. In Technical Writing the end game is to be understood by the audience or by end user of the product.
- Characters: In Creative Writing the author has to create strong characters that will hold the attention of the reader, if the characters are not well fleshed out, then the reader will lose interest and stop reading. In the case of Technical Writing the reader will read the manual because they have a need to understand how to use the toaster and therefore the only character is the toaster and what will play a part in the selection is its visual appeal (the job of the product design team).
- Plot: Creative Writing is dependent on a plot, and needs a Hook at the beginning to get the reader’s attention. However, this is not a need for Technical Writing. There is no hook needed to capture the reader’s attention.
- Location: In Creative Writing there is a need to capture the location in a descriptive and vivid manner making the build up to the story and the plot interesting. In the case of Technical Writing this is not a point to be considered.
- Methodical: In the case of Technical Writing it is important to be methodical so it is very imperative to first decide how and what you are going to write and then begin your writing. If you don’t the end result will be a mess and would require you to start from the beginning. In the case of Creative Writing however one can work around the text. After the first draft, one can even add or delete when doing subsequent drafts.
- Timelines: In the case of Technical Writing it is important work within timelines diligently. These are set by the client and need to be adhered too. Creative Writing allows for more leeway, especially if this is your first time, however if a dead line is not maintained your work will never see the end.
- Graphics: In Technical Writing it is important to remember that while
- writing your piece you also need to have the appropriate graphic representations and diagrams to make it more appealing and user friendly. However there is in no need for graphics and diagrams in Creative Writing unless you are writing a graphic novel which follows the comic book format.
- Word Limit: In Technical Writing you will also have scenarios where you are given a word limit and you have to stick to the word limit. In Creative Writing the word limit is the decision of the author and can vary from 100 pages to even a 1000 pages. Here it is based on Author discretion.
- Qualifications: It is important to understand that in Creative writing one can read various authors and then decide on what category of writing you want to specialise in. But with Technical Writing there is a need for the person who wants to become a Technical writer to have some basic training either at their place of work or taking a certification in Technical Writing.
- Style: While in Creative Writing there is no requirement to conform to a particular style while writing in a particular genre, this is not the case for Technical Writing has to follow a set format and this will be determined by whether they are writing a User manual or are writing a Release Note. Each category of Technical Writing has a certain style/s but there is not much deviation. Even between writers and companies.
- Ideation: What is Ideation? It’s a Creative process to generate new ideas. However, even though the word Creative is front and centre, this is what a person who is aspiring to make a career of Technical Writing would require. This is not an entirely new concept, but helps with coming up with new ideas to present material in Technical manuals in a more appealing manner.
- Higher skill sets: In some areas of Technical Writing for example (Release Notes and API ( Application Programming Interface), would require greater qualifications and a specialisation/ dense knowledge in Computer hard ware and software. In the case of Creative Writing this is not a requirement. A basic degree and good language control is good enough to kick start your writing career.
- Cooperation: In the case of Creative Writing all you need to do is work on which genre you want to write in and start. In the case of Technical Writing there would be a need for you to work in tandem with a specialist if you are writing in an arena which you are not technically skilled in. Therefore a technical person would work with you and guide you where needed.
- It’s in the detail: In Creative Writing the focus is on being descriptive, but in the case of Technical Writing it is important to get into the details of the topic/ subject you are writing on, keeping in mind the reader might be a novice.
- Stereotypes: In the case of Creative Writing because it is creative there is no stereotyping, however in Technical Writing it tends to get stereotyped and most technical material in a given category tends to look similar and here is where a good Technical writer will succeed if he is able to beat the stereotype and write simple easy to follow material.
- Being able to switch: Here is where I feel that, the difference lies. A Technical Writer could make the effort to write a creative piece and make the jump. But the reverse is not likely.
- Payment: Technical Writing is a lucrative career option for people who want to choose a work from home option. In the near future this arena is going to get more lucrative as the need for good Technical Writing and Writers increases. Creative Writing is also lucrative but only once you make a name for yourself