If you’ve spent any time in academia or the literary world, you know there are some people who are dead set on drawing lines around what’s considered “real” writing. There are plenty of professors and professionals who dismiss commercial novels, celebrity memoirs, and/or fanfiction. This leads some to wonder, if those subgenres “don’t count”, is blogging creative writing?
This is a complex topic that largely hinges upon subjective opinions regarding what makes something “creative”. However, a close look at the similarities and differences between blog posts and work that is traditionally considered “creative writing” may shed some light on the subject.
In this post, I’ll tackle the question “Is blogging creative writing?” and attempt to provide an answer. Let’s dig in.
5 Similarities and Differences Between Blogging and Creative Writing
There are a few key elements that play pivotal roles in both blog posts and creative work such as short stories and poetry. Let’s take a look at how they compare to determine whether blogging is creative writing.
1. Formatting and Structure
First, let’s consider the foundation of every piece of quality writing – the structure. When it comes to blog posts, this element is fairly straightforward. Most blog posts follow a logical sequence in which a problem or question is presented and then solved or answered by the blogger.
While there are many different forms bloggers can use to achieve this result, they all tend to be somewhat formulaic. This is largely because people seek out online content because they want specific information. Blog posts need to deliver this information effectively and efficiently in order to hold readers’ attention.
However, people seek out short stories, novels, poems, and even personal essays and other literary nonfiction for different reasons. Usually they’re looking for entertainment. Others may want to appreciate the writer’s skill with language, or meditate on some larger theme or concept.
This gives creative writers a chance to be more artistic when structuring their work. Poems obviously rely on verses to convey meaning, but even prose can play with chronology and point of view to make the piece more interesting or get a certain point across in a unique way.
In this sense, blogging can sometimes be more similar to technical writing than it is to creative writing.
2. Titles and Headlines
Every piece of writing needs a title or a headline to identify it by. However, this element also serves other functions, including:
- Giving readers an idea of what the piece is about
- Grabbing people’s attention and making them want to read the rest of the story, essay, or post
This is true for poems, fiction, nonfiction, journalism, research papers, literary criticism, and blog posts. Being able to craft captivating titles is a must-have skill across all types of writing. It can often significantly impact the success of a piece.
Titles are an area where there’s a lot of overlap between blogging and creative writing, even if short story writers don’t have to think about SEO.
3. Use of Language and Literary Devices
Anyone can tell a story. What makes it interesting and creative is the way you tell it. A strong command of language – including thoughtful word choice, variations in sentence structure, and use of devices such as alliteration, rhythm, and metaphor – is what takes a piece of writing to a higher level.
These elements absolutely come into play in blog posts. It’s easy for them to become dry lists or boring technical pieces, but if you work at it, there’s definitely room to flex your literary muscles online.
Food blogs are a stellar example of this concept in action. While some are still just digital cookbooks, others incorporate anecdotes from the blogger’s life that relate back to the dish they’re featuring. This technique breathes some additional meaning into the posts and helps readers feel more invested in the content.
The quality of the language in a blog post is all dependent on the writer, of course. Not every blogger will pay attention to such details – some just want to get information out to readers quickly. However, if elevating blog posts is important to you, there’s nothing to stop you from utilizing creative writing techniques in your content.
4. The Importance of Proper Grammar
This may seem like a no brainer, but grammar is important, no matter what you’re writing. It’s main purpose is to make sure readers can understand exactly what you’re trying to say.
However, correct grammar is also important for your reputation as a writer. A poor understanding of the “rules” of language can make you seem unprofessional and serious limit your opportunities for success.
When it comes to creative writing, you’re dealing with a highly competitive arena. Agents and editors receive hundreds if not thousands of queries and submissions. Rejecting work that’s full of errors is a quick way to cut down on the amount of reading you have to do.
Blogging is extremely competitive, too. Anyone can publish content online, so you need to make an effort to be more authoritative than other blogs in your niche. Otherwise, why would anyone read your site over another blogger’s? No one wants to invest energy in subpar articles on the internet. Bad grammar is a quick way to make readers think your content isn’t worth their time.
5. Research and Citations
Research plays a significant role in every type of writing, but it looks different depending on the type of piece you’re working on. For poetry and fiction, it’s usually just for the author to improve their descriptions and make their work more realistic or accurate to real life.
In creative nonfiction, research is much more involved and is usually presented to readers in some form, even if it’s just a footnote or a line in a bibliography. The extent and quality of the research can influence the credibility of the final piece.
Blogging also tends to involve a fair amount of research, although the extent of it will depend on what you blog about. Some posts require the support of statistics and studies. Others just need support from additional articles to provide readers with further information on subjects you only have time to briefly touch on in your post.
Additionally, “citations” in blogging generally take the form of links to other online content. This is considered a perfectly acceptable way of crediting others for information you’ve incorporated into your own work, but it doesn’t require as much creative thinking as working research into a short story or essay.
Is Blogging Creative Writing?
Ultimately, my answer to the question “Is blogging creative writing?” is, it can be. Some blogs read more like technical guides. Some read more like personal diary entries. But when you apply creative writing skills to your blog, the result may be something on the level of a best-selling book.
As a matter of fact, more than one successful writer has gotten their start blogging. Jenny Lawson, author of Furiously Happy and Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, has been running her site The Bloggess for more than ten years. Samantha Irby, who’s responsible for We Are Never Meeting In Real Life, Meaty, and Wow, No Thank You, chronicles her life on Bitches Gotta Eat.
A blog can be the perfect place to practice your craft and hone your writing skills. It’s quality relies on your approach to your content and your attention to detail and language.
At the end of the day, there’s not really one person or group of people who gets to decide whether a piece of writing – be it a poem or a blog post – is “creative”. However, there are some staple elements of quality writing that may influence the perception of your work and on which side of this dividing line it falls.
Here are five factors blog posts and literary pieces share that can make or break how readers see your content:
- Formatting and structure: Blog posts and creative works tend to be very different in terms of formatting and structure. The former need to be more linear. Fiction, poetry, and even some creative nonfiction can use nontraditional chronology and other techniques to enhance tension and meaning.
- Titles and headlines: Both blog posts and creative writing rely on eye-catching titles to draw readers in. However, blog headlines have additional factors to take into consideration, such as SEO.
- Use of language and descriptions: While elevated language and literary devices and commonly thought to be the domain of creative writers, bloggers can also utilize these techniques. That said, it’s not expected of them.
- Proper grammar: Using correct grammar is important for the credibility and professional appearance of both creative writers and bloggers. Since both are operating in highly competitive arenas, the stakes are equally high.
- Research and citations: Research is vital to all types of writing, but how it shows up in the final draft varies between genres and styles. Blog posts tend to require less investment when it comes to working third-party resources into your writing.
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