Journalism and creative writing are two opposite ends of the literary rope. Their difference is grounded on the fact that journalism relies heavily on the truth, facts, current events, and knowledge. Creative writing, on the other hand, comprises much on art, fiction, and imagination. This is why these two ends don’t meet.
I am a writer. Although I haven’t exactly labeled myself in any specific genre yet, I consider myself a writer. Apart from publishing my novellas on Wattpad and posting free-verse poetry on my blog, I am also a student of Journalism in college and was once a campus journalist for the university publication. As an aspiring novelist and a student of Journalism, I have gained keen insights on the major differences between writing journalistically and writing creatively.
Let’s focus on journalism first. News articles, feature stories in magazines, sports news, and many others found in broadsheets and tabloids belong to journalism. In this side of writing, the writer must gather credible sources to write informational truth behind current issues. The issues should contain reliable facts that tell the masses any ongoing circumstance or situations happening in the community, country, and the world. It’s typical news. It should be informative, honest, and un-biased.
Now let’s turn our heads to creative writing. Poems, novels, plays, and short stories are all under this category. Creative writing allows the writer to delve deeper into his imagination to bring out the story that he desires to write about. In creative writing, the writer uses words to paint pictures and create worlds, situations, and characters that are fictitious but related to life. Creative writers usually incorporate the art of literature into their works.
In the history of written works, journalism was first conceived during the 1400s in Italy and Germany. That was the time when people started chronicling daily events to disseminate the information in their town. It was popularized throughout Europe in the 1600s when the printing press was invented. By the dawn of the 20th century, journalism spread worldwide and became a profession.
Looking back in the ages past, creative writing already existed way before the term was coined. Our ancestors already practiced this form of literature in the early days of human civilization. Even before language was invented, creative writing already existed. The proof stems on the carvings of ancient caves – paintings and symbols that tell lores of life. Poetry existed long before the existence of Christ. Tales of myth and legend were inscribed on primeval papyrus. Folk tales, fairy tales, ballads, and epics — these are the earliest forms of creative writing that serve inspiration to modern novels, short stories, and plays.
In the context of profession, journalists and creative writers are barred from each other. Their writing styles are far from similar. Based on my experience as a campus journalist, whenever I write a news article, it has to be concrete, understandable, and straightforward. My editor would always advise me to choose words that are easy to comprehend by the readers. Moreover, ideas are rarely used freely since a journalist has to rely solely on facts (except for opinion articles). It’s like writing something that isn’t yours. If you’re a journalist, you are the medium of information. Not to mention, the space on the newspaper or magazine is sometimes limited, so you have to be cautious in using concise words. Additionally, once you’re a journalist, you need to update yourself about any gist of the trending issues or the juicy news. How else can you write informatively to your readers if you don’t know what the news is about?
In creative writing, I always find freedom in exploring my mind and expressing my thoughts. Whenever I discover new ideas, I always find the time to write them down. Eventually, they will evolve into a story. Creative writing relies mostly on self-expression. It gives you the chance to write your testimony of everything around you. It is limitless, entertaining, and sometimes informational (some novels are based on facts but they are still considered fiction since the writer has added his personal ideas into them, thus taking part in the novel’s creation). If you’re a creative writer, you can use a multitude of words as long as they all create the art that magnifies your story. Furthermore, creative writing takes you to places you’ve never known existed, acquaints you to characters more interesting than anyone you know in real life, and introduces you to devices more extraordinary than the tools used in this world. The fiction you create comes from your head. Isn’t it amazing that creativity allows this?
Journalism and creative writing may be on the opposite ends of the literary rope, but each of them is helpful and necessary. Journalism lets us see the truth behind what we know. Creative writing reflects the truth in an art form and makes us envision it in another perspective. As an aspiring novelist and a student of journalism, I daresay that these two are vital in the field of literature regardless of their evident differences.