Creative writing vs content writing: More different than you might think

by Harriet Swartout-Phipson

Creative writing vs content writing: differences and similarities

Creative writing vs content writing: Table of content

If you’re a writer, or you’ve considered writing, then you’ve likely already had the conversation with at least one loved one or colleague about your work. These conversations, in general, tend to go along the lines of considering someone who writes to be good at every aspect of writing. From copywriters being asked to write poetry to novelists being tapped up for press releases – to the broader world writing is, well, just writing.

While from an external perspective the concept of ‘writing’ as a whole can often be considered a general area of work or study, there’s far more nuance to what writing can mean than simply a blanket answer. We take a closer look at the difference between two very distinctive types of writing – creative writing vs content writing – to look at the significant differences between each kind of writing, and why you might be suited to one more than the other.

Read on to find out more about creative writing vs content writing, and what exactly it all means:

What does creative writing mean?

In many contexts, creative writing is the type of writing we’re typically brought up with from school age. Shakespeare, poetry, and even creating our own stories are all forms of creative writing that we either study or create ourselves.

As the name suggests, creative writing is more on the creative side. It is often considered more artistic thanks to it falling outside the typical rules for professional writing, or even academic and business writing. Creative writing can have many distinctive flairs, but typically it is descriptive or tells a story, and includes the development of scenes, plots, characters and narratives.

Creative writing is typically read for enjoyment, whether it’s in the form of non-fiction, poetry, novels or even in the form of movies and video games. Generally, when we’re talking about writing that can be considered creative, it also follows typical literary tropes in terms of its storytelling, its use of themes and the level of emotion used in writing created.

As such, you can’t expect to find creative writing in your next office meeting or the majority of marketing copy (though there are exception, we’re looking at you Nationwide poetry ads).

What does content writing mean?

In comparison to creative writing, content writing – also known as copywriting – falls into a clear-cut set of rules and requirements. In the majority of cases, the creation of content writing is for a particular purpose and goal.

Rather than personal enjoyment, content of this type is designed for easy consumption by a target audience and has the purpose of being persuasive and attractive to the reader. Typically, content writing is included as marketing materials and brand campaigns, and many companies have a specific style or tone of content that writers are required to comply with.

Content writing covers a vast range of different forms of writing, including writing for Search Engine Optimisation, to encourage conversions and sales and generally to make a brand or business look more attractive and appealing to a broader audience. Social media, blogs, e-books, infographics and more all utilise content writing to add to their professionalism as well as to give a brand-specific flair to created materials.

Generally, content writing is used in a business or workplace setting and is intended for a general virtual audience, defined by the marketing plan of that business.

The key differences between creative and content

Now we’ve got a better understanding of the difference between creative and content writing; we can examine what makes them so different from each other.

As you might expect, a range of factors is at play that makes these styles and forms of writing so different. Once you’ve seen them, you’ll never be able to look at writing as ‘just writing’ again. These key differences include:

  • The purpose of writing – While creative writing is intended to express feelings, stimulate thoughts, and provide entertainment, content writing is designed to attract an audience and achieve a measurable outcome.
  • The style of writing – Creative writing can be very floral and verbose, painting a picture of a setting or person leisurely. In contrast, content writing should be to-the-point, clear, and offer a persuasive reason for the reader to learn more about that brand.
  • Where the writing is used – Creative writing is often confined to online sites, novels and e-books, whereas content writing is more freely available online, from website copy to press releases and social media marketing.
  • Tone of voice – Creative writers have a great deal more freedom when it comes to the tone of voice they set out for their writing, whereas content writers are required to stick within the particular parameters and tone decided by the broader branding of a company.
  • Time constraints – While you might have been used to spending hours on a creative piece and days editing, the reality is that time is of the essence when it comes to content writing. You may find you are asked to come up with an article or web page at the drop of a hat, so having faith in your abilities to produce content quickly that is spot on is imperative.

Similarities between creative and content

While there are some similarities between creative and content writers, namely their skill in putting words onto paper or screen, much of that similarity ends there.

While those skilled at writing may find themselves pulled towards more profitable content creation as opposed to more emotion-led creative writing, if they are more inclined to greater freedom in their writing, they may find the transition a challenge. Which isn’t to say it’s not achievable – but content writing often isn’t quite as easy as people think it should be.

Which fits you best?

So, which is the best fit for you? Perhaps your heart lies with creative writing, or you find yourself more drawn to the analytical and methodical style content writing provides. In some cases, part-time creative writers also supplement their income with content writing on the side, which does mean it’s possible to have the best of both worlds – if you’re good at flipping the switch from one style to the other.

For those looking into writing for the first time, your best bet is to play on your strengths. If your writing is flexible, to-the-point and persuasive, then content writing might be your ideal fit.

If you’d like to flex your writing muscles with content creation that’s more flexible than most, then Copify is the place to start. Sign up today to discover copywriting that’s perfectly suited to the more methodically minded out there, from press releases to blog posts and everything else in-between.

Main image credit: Photo by Kat Stokes on Unsplash

Internal image credits: Photo by Hannah Olinger on Unsplash, Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash, Photo by Fred Kloet on Unsplash

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Harriet Swartout-Phipson

Harriet is a 20-something Digital Marketer/Creative Copywriter based in not-so-sunny North Somerset. Her passions include writing, for business and pleasure, as well as blogging and video games.