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Difference of creative writing and journalism

The Difference Between Creative Writing and Journalism

Lets start with Journalism. The differences and similarities of creative writing.

Have you ever asked yourself how a story comes together? Or asked why in a newspaper the main topic of the story is always in the first paragraph?

The difference between the two are far reaching, and very close together. It just depends on how the ‘story’ is put together.

In Journalism, one is taught the five W’s. Who, What, Where, When and Why. Who the story or article is about, what it is about, where it happened, When it happened and why it happened. Of course these are broad general terms. One would not of course put in an article about an Otter named Clyde, Who he was. You already know from the description. An Otter named Clyde. But what if the Otter named Clyde had done an amazing thing? Such as swim from one side of the ocean to the other. Then you would want to know why he swam that far and how. How his journey had got started, where he started from, and how long it had taken him. The Headline to such an amazing article may appear as such:

An otter named Clyde finished his long swim home.

When you saw such a headline, you would want to know more about the otter named Clyde. It would capture your attention and you would want to know more about him. That’s when you would get into the details of the story or article. Why he swam that far, when he started his swim, maybe into a short paragraph into the lives of otters and then back to Clyde. Why he started his swim in the first place. Who set him free? Why was he set free? Who had him and how he had come to have him.

Does all of this sound familiar? It is known as ‘Pyramid Writing’. The most important points first, to attract attention and get someone to read your article, then ‘The body’ of the story, and finally, the ending.

Difference Between Journalism and Creative Writing

Key Difference – Journalism vs Creative Writing

Journalism and creative writing are two arts of writing between which a number of differences can be highlighted. Journalism refers to the activity of writing on events that take place in the world. This entails all forms of news and other information. A person who engages in this art is known as a journalist. Journalism is often a rather difficult profession. Creative writing, on the other hand, is an activity in which the writer has free reign to be creative and produce an original piece of writing. The key difference between journalism and creative writing is that while one reports everyday happenings in journalism, in creative writing, the writer uses his imagination. Hence, in creative writing, the element of truth is not very important as in the case of journalism. Through this article let us examine the differences between these two forms of writing.

What is Journalism?

Journalism refers to the activity of writing on events that take place in the world which entails all forms of news and other information. A person who engages in this is known as a journalist. Becoming a journalist requires a lot of commitment. A journalist has to stick to the truth of the events that take place in the area or country and be able to write it in an interesting manner so that it catches the eye of the reader.

This, however, does not denote that journalists can use their imagination to make the story interesting. On the contrary, for the journalist language or words are the only means of reaching out to the reader. Hence in order to keep the readers engaged the journalist uses simple yet powerful language.

What is Creative Writing?

Creative writing is an activity in which the writer has free reign to be creative and produce an original piece of writing. To become a creative writer one must have a flair for words and an interest to comprehend the human life and experiences. He should seek inspiration not only from the world around him but also from his imagination. Becoming a creative writer is a fascinating profession as it allows the individual to create life as well as to live in his works.

When we speak of creative writing, there are many variations of it. Poetry, drama, play, fiction are all different types of creative writing. A creative writer should develop his language so that he can create a new world through his work. This is not a simple task and at times it can be rather tedious. However, becoming a creative writer can be a very fulfilling profession.

What is the difference between Journalism and Creative Writing?

Definitions of Journalism and Creative Writing:

Journalism: Journalism refers to the activity of writing on events that take place in the world which entails all forms of news and other information.

Creative Writing: Creative writing is an activity in which the writer has free reign to be creative and produce an original piece of writing.

Characteristics of Journalism and Creative Writing:

Time Constraint:

Journalism: In journalism, the writer or journalist often has to struggle with time as he needs to meet deadlines.

Creative Writing: In creative writing, the writer does not face any time constraints.


Journalism: The journalist is at the heart of the public domain.

Creative Writing: The creative writer is at the private domain although he may seek inspiration from the public setting.

Use of Language:

Journalism: A journalist usually uses simple, concise language as he wishes to convey the message as clearly as possible.

Creative Writing: In creative writing, the writer can use language to give life to his imagination.

1. “CBC journalists in Montreal” by Conrad Poirier [Public Domain] via Commons

2. “Stipula fountain pen” by Power_of_Words_by_Antonio_Litterio.jpg: Antonio Litterioderivative work: InverseHypercube [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Commons

Truth And Creativity: Journalism Vs. Creative Writing

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.