WRITING: CREATIVE OR TECHNICAL?

©2015 Wendy Scheuring

Writing is the most complex type of communication we have ever known. If it wasn’t for written communication—in any form—we wouldn’t be able to pen our thoughts, walk away, and let someone else to read them the next day, or even weeks, months, or years later. Being able to communicate in this way has changed the way we will think, forever.

Now, for some reason, we, as a people, like to assign labels to different types of writing, like technical, creative, etc. as if they are, in fact, completely different types of writing, not just secluded, but vastly located parsecs from one another. Granted, these “types” of writing show up in different venues: industries need technical writers to write procedures, manuals, and users’ guides. Creative writers write books, blogs, and stories. But, what about marketing materials that sell an industrial service? Creative or technical? Blogs that discuss changes in the financial industry? Technical or creative? An historical novel that takes place during the first manned flight to the moon? Creative or technical? As you can see, it becomes more difficult to choose one or the other.

Someone somewhere sometime came up with the terms, “technical writing” and “creative writing.” Why? We don’t know. But, we suspect it might be the same person who decided to delineate knowledge into school subjects like “History,” “Science,” “Math,” etc. as if life can be neatly tucked into tidy little categories. If history is a subject and science is subject, then what about the history of science? What about the early 1900s when Marie Curie performed her radioactivity experiments? In which class should she be studied? History, Science, or Women’s Studies?

The answer is that all writing is technical and all writing is creative. You simply cannot have one without the other. Whether it’s technical documentation or a business plan, a novel, or a blog, all forms of writing need to be conveyed to the reader in an expected format; they need to follow the rules of grammar and punctuation—for the most part—and create a vision in the reader’s mind. Vision, without conventions—e.g. grammar, spelling, and format—cannot be understood. Nor can conventions without vision make a piece of writing meaningful.

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