To the untrained eye, content and creative writing might seem very similar on the surface. After all, you’re just putting words on the page, right? The reality couldn’t be further from the truth.
In many ways, content and creative writing are entirely different beasts. One is all about informing the reader on a specific topic in the most in-depth but succinct way possible. The other has you pouring your imagination onto the page to share stories and poems.
Both require different mindsets and skills to produce great pieces of work. But just because they’re very different, doesn’t mean one can’t help you improve the other.
Here are five ways creative writing can improve your content writing skills.
Learning to research only what you need
Anyone who’s involved in creative writing, especially authors, will know that you need some understanding of the topic you’re writing about in order to make it seem real on the page.
However, a good creative writer also knows that you don’t need to spend hours of the day researching said topic in order to gain an understanding of it. Otherwise, you won’t spend any time actually writing, and your work will be clogged full of needless information.
The same is true for content writing. You might be tempted to research everything you can for the topic in front of you, but the truth is that there simply isn’t enough time in the day to do that. And even if there was, you wouldn’t be able to fit all the information you researched into your blog piece without bloating it.
With content writing, it’s all about being succinct and engaging, providing enough information to help the reader understand the topic, and hopefully encouraging them to do their own further research. So, if you’re already researching only what you need with your creative writing, all you need to do is transfer that mindset to your content writing.
Getting creative on the page
If there’s one thing creative writers do well, it’s making a piece of text sing with creativity. Every author and poet wants their readers to be fully engaged with their work, and the same should be true with a piece of content.
Bland and uninspired writing is the death of any article. With the wrong words, even a topic as thrilling as travelling the capitals of the globe can be made dull and uninteresting. If you’re already writing creatively, there’s no reason you can’t take that style and apply it to your content writing.
Even painting the barest picture with your words can bring a piece of writing to life. If you have no experience with creative writing, take some time out to describe different objects and places to flex your creative muscles. And above all, keep a thesaurus handy so you can mix up any repetitive word choice.
Succinct but informative sentences
As we’ve already mentioned, a key part of content writing is getting as much information to the reader as possible while minimising irrelevant information. But there’s a lot of content out there that fails to follow this fundamental rule.
There’s a term for this in creative writing; purple prose. Pretty much everyone has read at least one book where the language has been so overblown and flowery that it becomes a nightmare to read, which is why a golden rule of creative writing is to keep every sentence as short as it needs to be. Every word you put on the page should be necessary; if it’s not, it can be cut.
You can apply this same philosophy to your content writing. If you can explain a point in a single sentence or two, there is absolutely no reason to fluff it up. By all means, make your writing interesting to read, but don’t go overboard with excessive and unnecessary word vomit.
Paragraphs and white space
No one likes to read a single solid block of text. Even the most diehard of readers are going to take one look at a wall of words and give up before they’ve finished the first sentence.
Paragraphs are your best friend in both creative and content writing. They break up information into relevant sections and make the page more readable by introducing white space, space on the page devoid of text or images.
And the best part about paragraphs is that they don’t have to be any set length. When learning to write, you may have been told that a paragraph must be at least four sentences long or contain everything about a particular point. But the truth is that a paragraph can be as short as a single sentence.
Take the cliffhanger ending of any good book chapter. How much less of an impact would that have if it was the last sentence of a huge paragraph instead of being separate?
By taking the idea of short paragraphs and applying it to your content, not only will the reader be more grateful for its easy readability, but you can also make the most important sentences of the article really stand out.
Write now, edit later
Let’s face it, sometimes content writing can be a bit of a slog, especially if the topic at hand isn’t the most thrilling subject matter. It can make it that much harder to find your hook and reel the reader in.
A similar kind of writers’ block can be found in creative writing, particularly when you’re faced with a difficult scenario on the page and you’ve no idea how to get past it.
This comes up far more often than you’d think with creative work, and the best solution is often just to start writing. Even if it’s terrible, it gives you something to work with, something you can change later.
If there’s one rule to bear in mind with any kind of writing, it’s the honest truth that the first draft of any piece of work usually sucks. And that’s ok, because once you have something to work with, it becomes that much easier to make it better. Even something as mundane as the benefits of an office desk can be made mildly engaging on a second edit.
But the best part about following this tip is that the more you’re faced with tricky topics and situations, the more this problem will disappear. Given enough time and practice, you’ll find yourself coming up with creative solutions to even the most banal topics in the blink of an eye.
Bonus tip: learning grammar as you go
If you’re someone who writes as a job, then it’s a safe bet that you actually enjoy the craft of writing and want to improve your skills. Of course, sitting down and learning all the grammatical minutia, while important, is fairly tedious, and nowhere near as interesting as crafting a story of your own.
Which is why you should be doing just that in your spare time.
By studying creative writing and putting it into practice, not only will you create a piece of work entirely your own, but you’ll wind up learning all the different parts that make up correct grammar usage.
Given time, this will all become second nature to you, meaning you’ll be able to turn your creative focus on that tricky article that needs a professional tone of voice without a second thought.
And there you have it; those are our top 5 ways you can use your creative writing skills to improve your approach to content writing. By putting these into practice, you’ll soon be producing content that can not only rival your competitors but blow them out of the water.
Of course, there are plenty of other ways you can make your content more engaging. Why not take a look at our articles on proofreading and blog post optimisation to make sure you’re nailing all the technical areas of your articles. You can find both these pieces and more over on the c3 blog.