Writing Beginner

What Is Creative Writing? (Ultimate Guide + 20 Examples)

Creative writing begins with a blank page and the courage to fill it with the stories only you can tell.

I face this intimidating blank page daily–and I have for the better part of 20+ years.

In this guide, you’ll learn all the ins and outs of creative writing with tons of examples.

What Is Creative Writing (Long Description)?

Creative Writing is the art of using words to express ideas and emotions in imaginative ways. It encompasses various forms including novels, poetry, and plays, focusing on narrative craft, character development, and the use of literary tropes.

Bright, colorful creative writer's desk with notebook and typewriter -- What Is Creative Writing

Table of Contents

Let’s expand on that definition a bit.

Creative writing is an art form that transcends traditional literature boundaries.

It includes professional, journalistic, academic, and technical writing. This type of writing emphasizes narrative craft, character development, and literary tropes. It also explores poetry and poetics traditions.

In essence, creative writing lets you express ideas and emotions uniquely and imaginatively.

It’s about the freedom to invent worlds, characters, and stories. These creations evoke a spectrum of emotions in readers.

Creative writing covers fiction, poetry, and everything in between.

It allows writers to express inner thoughts and feelings. Often, it reflects human experiences through a fabricated lens.

Types of Creative Writing

There are many types of creative writing that we need to explain.

Some of the most common types:

  • Short stories
  • Screenplays
  • Flash fiction
  • Creative Nonfiction

Short Stories (The Brief Escape)

Short stories are like narrative treasures.

They are compact but impactful, telling a full story within a limited word count. These tales often focus on a single character or a crucial moment.

Short stories are known for their brevity.

They deliver emotion and insight in a concise yet powerful package. This format is ideal for exploring diverse genres, themes, and characters. It leaves a lasting impression on readers.

Example: Emma discovers an old photo of her smiling grandmother. It’s a rarity. Through flashbacks, Emma learns about her grandmother’s wartime love story. She comes to understand her grandmother’s resilience and the value of joy.

Novels (The Long Journey)

Novels are extensive explorations of character, plot, and setting.

They span thousands of words, giving writers the space to create entire worlds. Novels can weave complex stories across various themes and timelines.

The length of a novel allows for deep narrative and character development.

Readers get an immersive experience.

Example: Across the Divide tells of two siblings separated in childhood. They grow up in different cultures. Their reunion highlights the strength of family bonds, despite distance and differences.

Poetry (The Soul’s Language)

Poetry expresses ideas and emotions through rhythm, sound, and word beauty.

It distills emotions and thoughts into verses. Poetry often uses metaphors, similes, and figurative language to reach the reader’s heart and mind.

Poetry ranges from structured forms, like sonnets, to free verse.

The latter breaks away from traditional formats for more expressive thought.

Example: Whispers of Dawn is a poem collection capturing morning’s quiet moments. “First Light” personifies dawn as a painter. It brings colors of hope and renewal to the world.

Plays (The Dramatic Dialogue)

Plays are meant for performance. They bring characters and conflicts to life through dialogue and action.

This format uniquely explores human relationships and societal issues.

Playwrights face the challenge of conveying setting, emotion, and plot through dialogue and directions.

Example: Echoes of Tomorrow is set in a dystopian future. Memories can be bought and sold. It follows siblings on a quest to retrieve their stolen memories. They learn the cost of living in a world where the past has a price.

Screenplays (Cinema’s Blueprint)

Screenplays outline narratives for films and TV shows.

They require an understanding of visual storytelling, pacing, and dialogue. Screenplays must fit film production constraints.

Example: The Last Light is a screenplay for a sci-fi film. Humanity’s survivors on a dying Earth seek a new planet. The story focuses on spacecraft Argo’s crew as they face mission challenges and internal dynamics.

Memoirs (The Personal Journey)

Memoirs provide insight into an author’s life, focusing on personal experiences and emotional journeys.

They differ from autobiographies by concentrating on specific themes or events.

Memoirs invite readers into the author’s world.

They share lessons learned and hardships overcome.

Example: Under the Mango Tree is a memoir by Maria Gomez. It shares her childhood memories in rural Colombia. The mango tree in their yard symbolizes home, growth, and nostalgia. Maria reflects on her journey to a new life in America.

Flash Fiction (The Quick Twist)

Flash fiction tells stories in under 1,000 words.

It’s about crafting compelling narratives concisely. Each word in flash fiction must count, often leading to a twist.

This format captures life’s vivid moments, delivering quick, impactful insights.

Example: The Last Message features an astronaut’s final Earth message as her spacecraft drifts away. In 500 words, it explores isolation, hope, and the desire to connect against all odds.

Creative Nonfiction (The Factual Tale)

Creative nonfiction combines factual accuracy with creative storytelling.

This genre covers real events, people, and places with a twist. It uses descriptive language and narrative arcs to make true stories engaging.

Creative nonfiction includes biographies, essays, and travelogues.

Example: Echoes of Everest follows the author’s Mount Everest climb. It mixes factual details with personal reflections and the history of past climbers. The narrative captures the climb’s beauty and challenges, offering an immersive experience.

Fantasy (The World Beyond)

Fantasy transports readers to magical and mythical worlds.

It explores themes like good vs. evil and heroism in unreal settings. Fantasy requires careful world-building to create believable yet fantastic realms.

Example: The Crystal of Azmar tells of a young girl destined to save her world from darkness. She learns she’s the last sorceress in a forgotten lineage. Her journey involves mastering powers, forming alliances, and uncovering ancient kingdom myths.

Science Fiction (The Future Imagined)

Science fiction delves into futuristic and scientific themes.

It questions the impact of advancements on society and individuals.

Science fiction ranges from speculative to hard sci-fi, focusing on plausible futures.

Example: When the Stars Whisper is set in a future where humanity communicates with distant galaxies. It centers on a scientist who finds an alien message. This discovery prompts a deep look at humanity’s universe role and interstellar communication.

Watch this great video that explores the question, “What is creative writing?” and “How to get started?”:

What Are the 5 Cs of Creative Writing?

The 5 Cs of creative writing are fundamental pillars.

They guide writers to produce compelling and impactful work. These principles—Clarity, Coherence, Conciseness, Creativity, and Consistency—help craft stories that engage and entertain.

They also resonate deeply with readers. Let’s explore each of these critical components.

Clarity makes your writing understandable and accessible.

It involves choosing the right words and constructing clear sentences. Your narrative should be easy to follow.

In creative writing, clarity means conveying complex ideas in a digestible and enjoyable way.

Coherence ensures your writing flows logically.

It’s crucial for maintaining the reader’s interest. Characters should develop believably, and plots should progress logically. This makes the narrative feel cohesive.


Conciseness is about expressing ideas succinctly.

It’s being economical with words and avoiding redundancy. This principle helps maintain pace and tension, engaging readers throughout the story.

Creativity is the heart of creative writing.

It allows writers to invent new worlds and create memorable characters. Creativity involves originality and imagination. It’s seeing the world in unique ways and sharing that vision.


Consistency maintains a uniform tone, style, and voice.

It means being faithful to the world you’ve created. Characters should act true to their development. This builds trust with readers, making your story immersive and believable.

Is Creative Writing Easy?

Creative writing is both rewarding and challenging.

Crafting stories from your imagination involves more than just words on a page. It requires discipline and a deep understanding of language and narrative structure.

Exploring complex characters and themes is also key.

Refining and revising your work is crucial for developing your voice.

The ease of creative writing varies. Some find the freedom of expression liberating.

Others struggle with writer’s block or plot development challenges. However, practice and feedback make creative writing more fulfilling.

What Does a Creative Writer Do?

A creative writer weaves narratives that entertain, enlighten, and inspire.

Writers explore both the world they create and the emotions they wish to evoke. Their tasks are diverse, involving more than just writing.

Creative writers develop ideas, research, and plan their stories.

They create characters and outline plots with attention to detail. Drafting and revising their work is a significant part of their process. They strive for the 5 Cs of compelling writing.

Writers engage with the literary community, seeking feedback and participating in workshops.

They may navigate the publishing world with agents and editors.

Creative writers are storytellers, craftsmen, and artists. They bring narratives to life, enriching our lives and expanding our imaginations.

How to Get Started With Creative Writing?

Embarking on a creative writing journey can feel like standing at the edge of a vast and mysterious forest.

The path is not always clear, but the adventure is calling.

Here’s how to take your first steps into the world of creative writing:

  • Find a time of day when your mind is most alert and creative.
  • Create a comfortable writing space free from distractions.
  • Use prompts to spark your imagination. They can be as simple as a word, a phrase, or an image.
  • Try writing for 15-20 minutes on a prompt without editing yourself. Let the ideas flow freely.
  • Reading is fuel for your writing. Explore various genres and styles.
  • Pay attention to how your favorite authors construct their sentences, develop characters, and build their worlds.
  • Don’t pressure yourself to write a novel right away. Begin with short stories or poems.
  • Small projects can help you hone your skills and boost your confidence.
  • Look for writing groups in your area or online. These communities offer support, feedback, and motivation.
  • Participating in workshops or classes can also provide valuable insights into your writing.
  • Understand that your first draft is just the beginning. Revising your work is where the real magic happens.
  • Be open to feedback and willing to rework your pieces.
  • Carry a notebook or digital recorder to jot down ideas, observations, and snippets of conversations.
  • These notes can be gold mines for future writing projects.

Final Thoughts: What Is Creative Writing?

Creative writing is an invitation to explore the unknown, to give voice to the silenced, and to celebrate the human spirit in all its forms.

Check out these creative writing tools (that I highly recommend):

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Difference between Technical Writing and Creative Writing

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1. Technical Writing : Technical writing is a piece of writing which focuses on factual and straight forward content and technical papers are published to inform and instruct and educate the user about some specific topic. There exists specific readers who prefers technical papers. It gives readers information about some technical topics or it gives directions on how to do something.

2. Creative Writing : Creative writing is a piece of writing which focuses on imaginative and symbolic content and creative papers are published to entertain, provoke, inspire the user. There is no such specific readers who prefers creative papers. Anyone if wants can read creative paper and it gives readers a theme, message, moral or lesson which is helpful in their real lives or gives a temporary entertainment to the reader.

Difference between Technical Writing and Creative Writing :

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Technical Vs Creative Writing : Concepts and 7 Differences (Table)

Photo of Basir Saboor

Writing is a form of communication that allows individuals to convey their ideas, thoughts, and emotions to others. There are many different types of writing, each with its unique style, purpose, and audience. Two common types of writing are technical and creative writing. While both forms require the ability to write well, they differ significantly in terms of their content, structure, and style. So, in this article, we will get to have a look at the complete difference between technical vs creative writing with the help of a table and different key points.

Table of Contents

Technical Vs Creative Writing (Comparison Table)

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What is technical Writing?

Technical writing refers to writing that is intended to convey technical information or instructions to a specific audience. It is commonly used in fields such as engineering, medicine, science, and technology, where precise and accurate communication is essential. Technical writing typically involves the use of jargon, technical terms, and formal language to convey complex information.

Examples of technical writing include user manuals, instruction manuals, product specifications, research reports, and scientific papers. Technical writers use their expertise in a particular subject matter to create clear and concise documents that are easy to understand for a specific audience.

Characteristics of Technical Writing

Following are some of the main characteristics of technical writing.

  • Clarity: Technical writing is characterized by its clarity and precision. This means that technical writing uses simple and straightforward language to convey complex ideas and information. It avoids unnecessary jargon, slang, or colloquialisms that could confuse or mislead the reader. 
  • Objectivity: Technical writing is objective and factual. Technical writers are expected to present information in an unbiased and impartial way, without personal opinions or emotions. This means that technical writing focuses on the facts and evidence to support its claims, and avoids speculation or conjecture.
  • Accuracy: Technical writing is characterized by its accuracy and attention to detail. Technical writers must ensure that all information presented is correct and up-to-date. They must verify their sources and use reliable data and information to support their writing. 
  • Purpose-Driven: Technical writing is always purpose-driven. It serves a specific function or goal, whether it is to instruct, explain, persuade, or inform. Technical writers must understand their audience and tailor their writing to meet their needs and expectations. They must also be able to anticipate potential questions or objections and provide answers or solutions to address them.
  • Structured: Technical writing is structured and organized. It follows a logical sequence and presents information in a clear and consistent manner. Technical writers often use headings, bullet points, tables, and diagrams to help readers navigate complex information and understand the relationships between different ideas. 

What is Creative Writing?

Creative writing, on the other hand, refers to writing that is intended to entertain, inspire, or provoke an emotional response from the reader. It is often used in literature, poetry, and other forms of artistic expression. Creative writing focuses on using language in unique and imaginative ways to convey emotions, ideas, and experiences.

Examples of creative writing include novels, short stories, poems, plays, and screenplays. Creative writers use their creativity and imagination to create unique stories that engage and captivate their readers.

key Differences Between Technical and Creative Writing

While comparing technical vs creative writing, here we have included some of the key differences between them as well. So let’s have a look at them.

  • Meaning: Technical writing refers to the type of writing is a type of writing that conveys based on facts and concepts in a clear and concise manner. On the other hand, Creative writing is a type of writing that uses imagination, creativity, and artistic expression to convey stories, ideas, and emotions
  • Purpose: The primary purpose of technical writing is to convey technical information or instructions to a specific audience. Technical writers aim to explain complex concepts or procedures in a clear and concise manner. Creative writing, on the other hand, is intended to entertain, inspire, or provoke an emotional response from the reader.
  • Audience: Technical writing is typically written for a specific audience, such as engineers, scientists, medical professionals, or students. The audience for technical writing is often familiar with the subject matter and requires precise and accurate information. Creative writing, on the other hand, is written for a broader audience, including general readers who are looking for entertainment or inspiration.
  • Language and Style: Technical writing uses formal language, jargon, and technical terms to convey complex information. Technical writers focus on using clear and concise language that is easy to understand for their specific audience. Creative writing, on the other hand, uses more imaginative and figurative language to create a unique and engaging story.
  • Structure: Technical writing typically follows a structured format that includes headings, subheadings, and bullet points. The structure of technical writing is intended to make the information easy to understand and follow. Creative writing, on the other hand, has more flexibility in terms of structure and may not follow a specific format.
  • Creativity: Technical writing requires creativity in terms of presenting complex information in a clear and concise manner, but it does not focus on artistic expression. Creative writing, on the other hand, is all about artistic expression and requires a high level of creativity to create unique and engaging stories.
  • Feedback and Revision: Technical writing often involves feedback and revision from subject matter experts or reviewers to ensure that the information is accurate and complete. Creative writing may involve feedback and revision from editors or other writers, but the focus is on artistic expression rather than technical accuracy.

The following table also shows the difference between technical and creative writing.

comparison table for technical vs creative writing

Features for Good Piece of Creative Writing

A good piece of creative writing is one that effectively communicates the author’s ideas and emotions while engaging and captivating the reader. There are several key elements that contribute to a good piece of creative writing, including:

  • Strong Character Development: The characters in a good piece of creative writing should be well-rounded, multi-dimensional, and believable. They should have a clear backstory, motivation, and flaws that make them relatable to the reader.
  • A Well-Crafted Plot: The plot of a good piece of creative writing should be well-structured, with a clear beginning, middle, and end. It should be engaging and keep the reader interested throughout the story.
  • Vivid Descriptions: The use of descriptive language is essential in creative writing. A good piece of creative writing should have vivid descriptions that bring the story and characters to life in the reader’s mind.
  • A Unique Perspective: A good piece of creative writing should offer a unique perspective or point of view on a particular topic or theme. It should challenge the reader’s assumptions and offer a fresh perspective on a familiar subject.
  • Effective Use of Language: A good piece of creative writing should use language in imaginative and figurative ways. It should have a clear and consistent voice, use literary devices such as metaphor and simile, and create a rich and immersive world for the reader to explore.
  • Emotional Impact: A good piece of creative writing should evoke emotions in the reader, whether it be joy, sadness, anger, or empathy. It should leave a lasting impression on the reader and be memorable long after they have finished reading it.

Overall, a good piece of creative writing is one that effectively communicates the author’s ideas and emotions while engaging and captivating the reader through strong character development, a well-crafted plot, vivid descriptions, a unique perspective, effective use of language, and emotional impact.

So, to sum up, this article, we can say that, technical and creative writing are two distinct forms of writing that require different skills and approaches. Technical writing focuses on conveying technical information or instructions in a clear and concise manner to a specific audience. On the other hand,  creative writing focuses on using language in unique and imaginative ways to entertain, inspire, or provoke an emotional response from the reader. 

Understanding the differences between these two forms of writing is essential for anyone who wants to excel in either field. While both types of writing have their unique challenges and rewards, individuals can choose the form that best suits their skills, interests, and career goals. Whether you are a technical writer or a creative writer, developing strong writing skills and adapting to the needs of your audience is essential for success in any writing career.

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Creative Primer

What is Creative Writing? A Key Piece of the Writer’s Toolbox

Brooks Manley

Not all writing is the same and there’s a type of writing that has the ability to transport, teach, and inspire others like no other.

Creative writing stands out due to its unique approach and focus on imagination. Here’s how to get started and grow as you explore the broad and beautiful world of creative writing!

What is Creative Writing?

Creative writing is a form of writing that extends beyond the bounds of regular professional, journalistic, academic, or technical forms of literature. It is characterized by its emphasis on narrative craft, character development, and the use of literary tropes or poetic techniques to express ideas in an original and imaginative way.

Creative writing can take on various forms such as:

  • short stories
  • screenplays

It’s a way for writers to express their thoughts, feelings, and ideas in a creative, often symbolic, way . It’s about using the power of words to transport readers into a world created by the writer.

5 Key Characteristics of Creative Writing

Creative writing is marked by several defining characteristics, each working to create a distinct form of expression:

1. Imagination and Creativity: Creative writing is all about harnessing your creativity and imagination to create an engaging and compelling piece of work. It allows writers to explore different scenarios, characters, and worlds that may not exist in reality.

2. Emotional Engagement: Creative writing often evokes strong emotions in the reader. It aims to make the reader feel something — whether it’s happiness, sorrow, excitement, or fear.

3. Originality: Creative writing values originality. It’s about presenting familiar things in new ways or exploring ideas that are less conventional.

4. Use of Literary Devices: Creative writing frequently employs literary devices such as metaphors, similes, personification, and others to enrich the text and convey meanings in a more subtle, layered manner.

5. Focus on Aesthetics: The beauty of language and the way words flow together is important in creative writing. The aim is to create a piece that’s not just interesting to read, but also beautiful to hear when read aloud.

Remember, creative writing is not just about producing a work of art. It’s also a means of self-expression and a way to share your perspective with the world. Whether you’re considering it as a hobby or contemplating a career in it, understanding the nature and characteristics of creative writing can help you hone your skills and create more engaging pieces .

For more insights into creative writing, check out our articles on creative writing jobs and what you can do with a creative writing degree and is a degree in creative writing worth it .

Styles of Creative Writing

To fully understand creative writing , you must be aware of the various styles involved. Creative writing explores a multitude of genres, each with its own unique characteristics and techniques.

Poetry is a form of creative writing that uses expressive language to evoke emotions and ideas. Poets often employ rhythm, rhyme, and other poetic devices to create pieces that are deeply personal and impactful. Poems can vary greatly in length, style, and subject matter, making this a versatile and dynamic form of creative writing.

Short Stories

Short stories are another common style of creative writing. These are brief narratives that typically revolve around a single event or idea. Despite their length, short stories can provide a powerful punch, using precise language and tight narrative structures to convey a complete story in a limited space.

Novels represent a longer form of narrative creative writing. They usually involve complex plots, multiple characters, and various themes. Writing a novel requires a significant investment of time and effort; however, the result can be a rich and immersive reading experience.


Screenplays are written works intended for the screen, be it television, film, or online platforms. They require a specific format, incorporating dialogue and visual descriptions to guide the production process. Screenwriters must also consider the practical aspects of filmmaking, making this an intricate and specialized form of creative writing.

If you’re interested in this style, understanding creative writing jobs and what you can do with a creative writing degree can provide useful insights.

Writing for the theater is another specialized form of creative writing. Plays, like screenplays, combine dialogue and action, but they also require an understanding of the unique dynamics of the theatrical stage. Playwrights must think about the live audience and the physical space of the theater when crafting their works.

Each of these styles offers unique opportunities for creativity and expression. Whether you’re drawn to the concise power of poetry, the detailed storytelling of novels, or the visual language of screenplays and plays, there’s a form of creative writing that will suit your artistic voice. The key is to explore, experiment, and find the style that resonates with you.

For those looking to spark their creativity, our article on creative writing prompts offers a wealth of ideas to get you started.

Importance of Creative Writing

Understanding what is creative writing involves recognizing its value and significance. Engaging in creative writing can provide numerous benefits – let’s take a closer look.

Developing Creativity and Imagination

Creative writing serves as a fertile ground for nurturing creativity and imagination. It encourages you to think outside the box, explore different perspectives, and create unique and original content. This leads to improved problem-solving skills and a broader worldview , both of which can be beneficial in various aspects of life.

Through creative writing, one can build entire worlds, create characters, and weave complex narratives, all of which are products of a creative mind and vivid imagination. This can be especially beneficial for those seeking creative writing jobs and what you can do with a creative writing degree .

Enhancing Communication Skills

Creative writing can also play a crucial role in honing communication skills. It demands clarity, precision, and a strong command of language. This helps to improve your vocabulary, grammar, and syntax, making it easier to express thoughts and ideas effectively .

Moreover, creative writing encourages empathy as you often need to portray a variety of characters from different backgrounds and perspectives. This leads to a better understanding of people and improved interpersonal communication skills.

Exploring Emotions and Ideas

One of the most profound aspects of creative writing is its ability to provide a safe space for exploring emotions and ideas. It serves as an outlet for thoughts and feelings , allowing you to express yourself in ways that might not be possible in everyday conversation.

Writing can be therapeutic, helping you process complex emotions, navigate difficult life events, and gain insight into your own experiences and perceptions. It can also be a means of self-discovery , helping you to understand yourself and the world around you better.

So, whether you’re a seasoned writer or just starting out, the benefits of creative writing are vast and varied. For those interested in developing their creative writing skills, check out our articles on creative writing prompts and how to teach creative writing . If you’re considering a career in this field, you might find our article on is a degree in creative writing worth it helpful.

4 Steps to Start Creative Writing

Creative writing can seem daunting to beginners, but with the right approach, anyone can start their journey into this creative field. Here are some steps to help you start creative writing .

1. Finding Inspiration

The first step in creative writing is finding inspiration . Inspiration can come from anywhere and anything. Observe the world around you, listen to conversations, explore different cultures, and delve into various topics of interest.

Reading widely can also be a significant source of inspiration. Read different types of books, articles, and blogs. Discover what resonates with you and sparks your imagination.

For structured creative prompts, visit our list of creative writing prompts to get your creative juices flowing.

Editor’s Note : When something excites or interests you, stop and take note – it could be the inspiration for your next creative writing piece.

2. Planning Your Piece

Once you have an idea, the next step is to plan your piece . Start by outlining:

  • the main points

Remember, this can serve as a roadmap to guide your writing process. A plan doesn’t have to be rigid. It’s a flexible guideline that can be adjusted as you delve deeper into your writing. The primary purpose is to provide direction and prevent writer’s block.

3. Writing Your First Draft

After planning your piece, you can start writing your first draft . This is where you give life to your ideas and breathe life into your characters.

Don’t worry about making it perfect in the first go. The first draft is about getting your ideas down on paper . You can always refine and polish your work later. And if you don’t have a great place to write that first draft, consider a journal for writing .

4. Editing and Revising Your Work

The final step in the creative writing process is editing and revising your work . This is where you fine-tune your piece, correct grammatical errors, and improve sentence structure and flow.

Editing is also an opportunity to enhance your storytelling . You can add more descriptive details, develop your characters further, and make sure your plot is engaging and coherent.

Remember, writing is a craft that improves with practice . Don’t be discouraged if your first few pieces don’t meet your expectations. Keep writing, keep learning, and most importantly, enjoy the creative process.

For more insights on creative writing, check out our articles on how to teach creative writing or creative writing activities for kids.

Tips to Improve Creative Writing Skills

Understanding what is creative writing is the first step. But how can one improve their creative writing skills? Here are some tips that can help.

Read Widely

Reading is a vital part of becoming a better writer. By immersing oneself in a variety of genres, styles, and authors, one can gain a richer understanding of language and storytelling techniques . Different authors have unique voices and methods of telling stories, which can serve as inspiration for your own work. So, read widely and frequently!

Practice Regularly

Like any skill, creative writing improves with practice. Consistently writing — whether it be daily, weekly, or monthly — helps develop your writing style and voice . Using creative writing prompts can be a fun way to stimulate your imagination and get the words flowing.

Attend Writing Workshops and Courses

Formal education such as workshops and courses can offer structured learning and expert guidance. These can provide invaluable insights into the world of creative writing, from understanding plot development to character creation. If you’re wondering is a degree in creative writing worth it, these classes can also give you a taste of what studying creative writing at a higher level might look like .

Joining Writing Groups and Communities

Being part of a writing community can provide motivation, constructive feedback, and a sense of camaraderie. These groups often hold regular meetings where members share their work and give each other feedback. Plus, it’s a great way to connect with others who share your passion for writing.

Seeking Feedback on Your Work

Feedback is a crucial part of improving as a writer. It offers a fresh perspective on your work, highlighting areas of strength and opportunities for improvement. Whether it’s from a writing group, a mentor, or even friends and family, constructive criticism can help refine your writing .

Start Creative Writing Today!

Remember, becoming a proficient writer takes time and patience. So, don’t be discouraged by initial challenges. Keep writing, keep learning, and most importantly, keep enjoying the process. Who knows, your passion for creative writing might even lead to creative writing jobs and what you can do with a creative writing degree .

Happy writing!

Brooks Manley

Brooks Manley

definition of creative writing and technical writing

Creative Primer  is a resource on all things journaling, creativity, and productivity. We’ll help you produce better ideas, get more done, and live a more effective life.

My name is Brooks. I do a ton of journaling, like to think I’m a creative (jury’s out), and spend a lot of time thinking about productivity. I hope these resources and product recommendations serve you well. Reach out if you ever want to chat or let me know about a journal I need to check out!

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the five minute journal

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1: Introduction to Technical Writing

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  • Define technical communication.
  • Distinguish technical writing from academic writing.
  • Explain the features of technical writing style.
  • Introduce the concepts of audience, culture, and ethics as they apply to technical writing.

What is Technical Writing?

You are probably wondering what this "technical writing thing" is. Someone may have even told you, "It's this course where they make you write about rocket science and brain surgery." Well, not really, as you will see in a moment. The field of technical communication is essential in a wide range of fields and occupations. It is a fully professional field with degree programs, certifications, and—yes!—even theory. It is a good field with a lot of growth and income potential, and an introductory technical-writing course for which this book has been developed is a good way to start if you are interested in a career in this field.

Technical writing is designed for users in technical fields such as engineering, chemistry, computer information software and systems, medical professions, aeronautics, robotics, automotive, etc.

Technical writing is designed to:

  • inform by anticipating and answering audience questions;
  • instruct the audience to perform a task or follow a procedure, and
  • persuade the audience via explanations, analysis, and solutions.

Technical writing is an audience-centered means of communication that provides a reader with clear and easy access to information. In the business world, time equates to profit, and profit is the force behind all professional interactions. The technical writer and reader have a vis-à-vis relationship. The writer recognizes, respects, and addresses the importance of time in effective and efficient communication by providing documents written in specific formats, using unambiguous language to send clearly accessible information. The reader in turn thoroughly understands the information in order to give a thoughtful response.


Technical communication is an audience-centered means of communication that provides the reader with clear, accurate, and ethically represented information. According to the Society for Technical Communication, technical writing includes the following characteristics:

  • “Communicating about technical or specialized topics, such as computer applications, medical procedures, or environmental regulations.”
  • “Communicating by using technology, such as web pages, help files, or social media sites.”
  • “Providing instructions about how to do something, regardless of how technical the task is or even if the technology is used to create or distribute that communication.”

The Meaning of "Technical"

Technical communication—or technical writing, as the course is often called—is not writing about a specific technical topic such as computers, but about any technical topic. The term "technical" refers to knowledge that is not widespread, that is more the territory of experts and specialists. Whatever your major is, you are developing an expertise—you are becoming a specialist in a particular technical area. And whenever you try to write or say anything about your field, you are engaged in technical communication.

Academic Writing Versus Technical Writing

Technical communication is distinct from the academic forms of writing you may be more familiar with. The academic writer’s purpose may be to write an essay, a story, a research paper, etc. Such assignments are often designed so that students can “write to learn” and show mastery of information covered in class. Additionally, in academic writing context, student-writers join a conversation that is occurring on a particular topic.

Technical communication, however, is intended for another purpose. These documents convey information to audiences who may or may not have prior knowledge of the material discussed. Technical communicators must, therefore, determine the needs of their audience and design documents that convey information in an accessible and appropriate manner. Depending on the context of communication, it might also be necessary to convey information in a concise and efficient manner, succinctly presenting points and cutting extraneous or potentially distracting material.

Workplace Writing

However, the focus for technical writing courses is not necessarily a career as a technical writer but an introduction to the kinds of writing skills you need in practically any technically-oriented professional job. No matter what sort of professional work you do, you're likely to do lots of writing—and much of it technical in nature. The more you know about some basic technical-writing skills, which are covered in this guide and in technical-writing courses, the better job of writing you're likely to do. And that will be good for the projects you work on, for the organizations you work in, and—most of all—good for you and your career.


Professional technical writers rely on these strategies to ensure the technical accuracy of their work:

  • Study of books, articles, reports, websites related to the product.
  • Product specifications: what the product is supposed to do, how it is designed.
  • Interviews with subject matter experts: the product specialists, developers, engineers.
  • Product meetings during the development cycle.
  • Live demonstrations of the product.
  • Familiarization with similar, competing products.
  • Experimenting with working models of the product.
  • Most importantly, subject matter experts' review of technical writers' work for technical accuracy and completeness.

Considerations of Technical Documents

There are key components of what makes a document strong. Therefore, writers keep these items in mind while constructing technical documents.

The Importance of Audience

Another key part of the definition of technical communication is the receiver of the information—the audience. Technical communication is the delivery of technical information to readers (or listeners or viewers) in a manner that is adapted to their needs, level of understanding, and background. In fact, this audience element is so important that it is one of the cornerstones of this course: you are challenged to write about highly technical subjects but in a way that a beginner—a nonspecialist—could understand. This ability to "translate" technical information to non-specialists is a key skill to any technical communicator. In a world of rapid technological development, people are constantly falling behind and becoming technological illiterates. Technology companies are constantly struggling to find effective ways to help customers or potential customers understand the advantages or the operation of their new products.

Cultural Communication

Technical writers need to be aware of the differences between the behavior and the norms, beliefs and values of specific cultural. According to Edward T. Hall and Mildred Reed Hall, In Understanding Cultural Differences, each culture operates according to its own rules (1990, pp. 3-4). Hall and Hall add that problems occur when members of one culture apply the rules to another culture (1990, pp. 3-4). To communicate effectively with other cultures, the technical writer needs to not only be aware of rules governing behaviors that can be observed but also of the not-so-obvious rules that govern the norms, beliefs, and values of the people of a culture. The invisible rules of a culture dramatically impact the acceptance of ideas, plans, and strategies. The Cultural Iceberg illustrates patterns of world communication, showing indicators of Institutional Culture (the obvious behavior of a culture), which can be clearly seen as the tip of the iceberg, and People Culture (the norms, beliefs and values of a culture), which cannot be seen and which are the barriers to successful communication.

Figure 1 The Cultural Iceberg

definition of creative writing and technical writing

Technical writers have a responsibility to their readers and to their employers to follow ethics when writing reports. Technical writers must use words that demonstrate valid appeals to reason, avoiding emotional words and phrases that appeal to basic emotion instead of justifiable reasoning. In addition, technical writers must use valid references to support ideas and strategies, avoiding referencing non experts to sway readers’ support. Also, technical writers must use accurate numbers to report data, avoiding charts and tables that skew data. Using any type of fallacies in technical writing is unethical and could result in dire consequences. Not only do technical writers have a responsibility to report accurate information, but they also have a responsibility to credit accurate sources of information. At no time is it acceptable to rearrange information in order to attempt to indicate that the writer is the source of someone else’s idea or to indicate that the writer read a report that included information he/she cited, when the primary source of the information was cited in another report. All sources must be referenced accurately in the text and cited on a reference page.

Overview of the Technical Writing Style

Technical writing takes complicated ideas and organizes and explains those ideas in easy-to-understand language. The reader of technical documents does not read to engage in a discussion or be entertained. The audience of technical documents wants information. In short, technical writing provides information and seeks to solve problems and help the reader learn.

While some technical writing is composed for experts within the field, most technical writing is composed for the ordinary user - the consumer. While technical writing can organize information so it persuades the user, it must always present complete and accurate information. Technical writing does not use emotionally charged language, redundant adjectives, colloquialisms, or words or phrases that are open to interpretation. As the Society of Technical Writing explains, technical communicators employ a user-centered approach to provide "the right information, in the right way, at the right time to make someone’s life easier and more productive."

Features of Technical Writing

Technical documents must be reader-centered. The information is explained and presented in a style that is easy to navigate and understand. Technical documents value the reader’s time by using the following features:

  • Accessible – Think about the users of your document. You understand the material and created the document based on that knowledge and understanding, but for your audience, this is new information. So the information must be explained and presented in a style that is easy to understand and follow.
  • Collaborative - technical documents must consider multiple perspectives; therefore, they are frequently composed by a team of writers.
  • Concise –To write concisely does not mean to use fewer words. Instead, it means to use all the words you need but only the words you need.
  • Efficient page design: Use headings, numbered or bulleted lists, tables, easy-to-read fonts, white space, and other elements to help the reader navigate through the material.
  • Logical organization: use chronological order and emphasize important information.
  • Meaningful content: include all of the information needed but none of the information that is not needed.
  • Supplemental material: Abstracts, footnotes, glossary, appendix, definitions, etc., provides readers with additional information when needed.
  • Visual elements: Use charts, graphs, or images to clarify written concepts or relationships.

Formatting and Language

Formatting and appropriate language are the basic design elements of all technical documents. A format that shows a hierarchical structure and a coordinate structure of information leads the reader through the text. Readers should be able to identify a writer’s organizational pattern very quickly when reading a technical document. This sometimes refers to a document being “reader-friendly.” In addition, using appropriate language is significant in providing the reader with a thorough understanding of the purpose of the document, how the document relates to the reader’s needs, and what action is expected of the reader.

A document may also have one audience (the primary reader) or multiple audiences (the secondary readers). A primary reader is the person who ordered the report to be written or the person for whom the report is intended. These readers will usually read the entire report. Secondary readers are those readers who will read only the sections of the report that relate to them, their jobs, their departments, responsibilities, etc. For example, if a report was sent that detailed funding for different departments, a piping superintendent may only want to read the section that relates to piping. This is where format, the use of headings, is significant in allowing the reader easy access to information. When the piping superintendent can scan through the document and clearly find the heading that identifies his department saves time.

The following table provides general specifications for many types of technical writing documents:

Table 3.1. Document Formatting

Readability in Publications

The way a text looks matters to a reader, so it should matter to a writer. Letters, reports, and websites are more than just words on a page or a screen. How ideas are arranged and delivered in physical form, whether electronically or on paper, can make reading seem intimidating, confusing, or downright unfriendly, even if the content itself is perfect. Your text is like a room for your ideas. Sometimes you want readers to get in and get out quickly, but often, you want them to sit down and make themselves comfortable, put their feet up and stay awhile. Whatever the case, you should be in control of the reader’s experience.

To make a document more reader-friendly, many technical writers rely on visuals to achieve this goal. See Chapter 15, "Visuals in Technical Documents " for detailed information about using visuals.

Ways effective design enhances a document

Effective design makes a document accessible

  • Good design helps readers understand your information.
  • Good page design helps readers locate information quickly.
  • Good design helps readers notice highly important content.

Effective design affects readers’ attitudes, thereby increasing a communication’s persuasiveness.

  • Good design encourages readers to feel good about the communication itself.
  • Good design encourages readers to feel good about the communication’s subject matter.

Because page design can have such a significant impact on your communication’s usability and persuasiveness, you should approach design in the same reader-centered manner that you use when drafting text and graphics. Think continuously about your readers, including who they are, what they want from your communication and the context in which they will be reading.

It helps to think about the building blocks of a page design in the way that professional graphic designers do. When they look at a page, they see six basic elements:

  • Text : Paragraphs and sentences.
  • Headings and titles : Labels for sections of your communication.
  • Graphics : Drawings, tables, photographs, and so on — including their captions.
  • White space : Blank areas.
  • Headers and footers : The items, such as page numbers, that occur at the top or bottom of each page in a multi-page document.
  • Physical features : These include paper, which may take many shapes and sizes, and bindings, which come in many forms.

Figure 3.1. Overview of design elements. Notice how your eye is drawn to the blue header and the boxed elements. In these spaces, you can highlight the important parts of your message:

Technical writing is designed to inform, instruct, or persuade an audience. It is informative and concise. Technical writers often collaborate with others in their organizations to develop documents that are formatted and designed to inform their audience in accessible ways. All forms of technical writing -- memos, letters, proposals, reports, and so on -- have different conventions for format and design. Technical writing differs from the academic writing to which many students are accustomed. As you continue exploring concepts of technical communication in this course, remember these introductory concepts to technical writing and work to apply them to the documents you create.


  • Remember that technical writing is not just about computers or engineering. The term should be considered more broadly than that.
  • Audience is crucial. Before creating any technical document, be certain you understand your audience's identity and needs.
  • Format your technical documents differently than you might format an academic writing assignment.
  • Consider cultural and ethical concerns and complications as you develop your documents.

Hall, E.T. & Hall, M.R. (1990). Understanding Cultural Differences. Intercultural Press.

Society for Technical Communication. (2021). Defining Technical Communication. https://www.stc.org/about-stc/defini...communication/ .

This work "Introduction to Technical Writing" is a derivative of " What is Technical Communication? " by Chelsea Milbourne, Anne Regan, Morgan Livingston, & Sadie Johann, Technical Writing for Technicians CC-BY Will Fleming, and " ENGL 145: Technical and Report Writing " by Amber Kinonen,used under a CC BY license. "Introduction to Technical Writing" is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by Tamara Girardi and Mary Richards.

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What is Creative Writing?

definition of creative writing and technical writing

Written by Scott Wilson

what is creative writing

Creative writing is any kind of writing that employs creative literary or poetic techniques in the service of either fiction or non-fiction writing. It involves original composition and expressiveness of the individual author.

Ask ten creative writing professors what creative writing is, and you’ll get eleven different answers. Turn to the dictionary and the definition invokes invention and incorporation of imagination. But what are the limits of imagination? Where does invention begin?

Every sentence in every work ever written began as an act of creation in the mind of the writer.

Creative writing may be most easily defined by what it is not…

  • Technical writing
  • Professional or business writing
  • Scholarly or academic writing

Creative writing is the entire body of the writer’s craft that falls outside the boundaries of the ordinary.

Yet you will find many entries in the canon of those fields that might also be considered creative writing. No one would consign Truman Capote’s groundbreaking In Cold Blood to the sterile cells of mere journalism. But that haunting novel is unquestionably also an important work of investigative reporting.

So, what is creative writing, if a non-fiction novel of a horrific quadruple murder falls into the same scope as a classic of American literature like To Kill a Mockingbird ?

It has to do with style and art. Creative writing goes to the heart of the individual expressiveness of the writer. It breaks the boundaries of the typical. That’s an exercise of artistic skill that can happen in any topic, toward almost any goal. And it’s the heart of what it is to be a writer, no matter what you write about.

Defining creative writing isn’t easy. Rooms full of the best authorities routinely disagree. But what is creative writing , isn’t the most interesting question to ask here. Instead, we would be best served by asking another:

Why Is Creative Writing Important?

at peace writing

Storytellers were plying their craft thousands of years before the written word was invented. The creative spark doesn’t belong to words. It may not even depend on language. It draws instead on a deep part of what it is to be human. Invention, imagination, the urge to create… these are all deep and vital parts of the human experience.

Creative writing is important because it is evocative.

That well of creativity flows forth in many arts and forms of expression. But in creative writing it has found a medium where it can be both preserved and shared. It’s a method of human connection that has no expiration date, no geographical or even cultural limit.

Writers touch the souls of their contemporaries first. But like Shakespeare, Wordsworth, and Lady Murasaki, their reach may also span generations.

Creative Writing Fuels Communication in All Forms of Writing

Although fiction is the first refuge of creative writing, that expressiveness serves the purposes of just about any kind of author.

The goals of most other forms of writing are focused on various kinds of literal communication. A journalist seeks to convey the facts and the context of important news stories. Technical writers need to communicate the details of operating programs and machinery, clearly describing all kinds of minute details with zero ambiguity. Business communications are created with a view toward clarity and concision—helping readers get the main points of the piece quickly and without confusion.

Creative writing can also help to serve these purposes.

Creative writing taps into a different level of communication. While it may, and often does, aspire to other goals like offering clarity and detail, it also goes toward developing emotional connection. The reader will take away more than mere words from a piece of creative writing.

Creative Writing is Important For Making Other Kinds of Writing Compelling

Just as importantly, creative writing entertains. In a story about the importance of algorithmic and high-frequency trading, all kinds of technical details must be absorbed to make sense of the issues. Both technological and economic concepts have to be introduced. In a comprehensive article about the subject, readers from outside the field could be expected to nod off about two pages in.

But put the story in the hands of Michael Lewis, and you get Flash Boys , a New York Times Best Seller.

It’s not important that Flash Boys did well because it was entertaining, however. It’s important because the market trends and activities it described have real impacts on many of the readers. Retirement funds, college savings, family investments… all are affected by the story Flash Boys tells. Today, millions of readers who would never otherwise have understood how their investments were being handled can make an informed assessment… thanks to creative writing.

How To Separate Creative Writing From Less Creative Forms of Writing

focused creative writing

In general, it’s safe to say that a piece of writing is creative when it makes use of literary devices such as:

  • Narrative development
  • Imagination and invention

In Cold Blood passes this test due to Capote’s use of characterization, plot development, and world-building. It’s considered today to be a pioneering example of the non-fiction novel, a paragon of the creative writing world.

The original crime reports, local newspaper articles, and subsequent court documents detail the same events with the same participants. Yet they are not works of creative writing. The incident is described in dry, straightforward, technical language. The timeline is linear and offered without consideration of pace or drama.

Both Capote and the authors of those other articles and documents set out to inform. But Capote’s goal was also to captivate.

New Journalism Tells the Story of How Creative Writing Has an Important Role in Non-Fiction

abstract clippings

Books like Wolfe’s The Right Stuff mixed truth and dramatization, documentation and invention, to tell larger stories about serious events. In dramatizing those stories, New Journalism writers also drew more readers and achieved broader awareness of the stories.

At the same time, long-form New Journalism pieces, deeply researched and documented, were able to report stories in depth in a way that traditional journalism often did not. By invoking plot, characterization, and narrative structures, the New Journalists could keep readers involved in long and complex issues ranging from crime to politics to culture.

New Journalism is important in defining what is creative writing because it is clearly an example of both creative and journalistic writing. It demonstrates the ways that creative writing can serve other forms of writing and other kinds of writers.

Of course, it’s also possible to come at the divide from the other shore. Categories of writing that are clearly creative in nature include:

  • Novels and novellas
  • Flash fiction and short stories
  • Plays and film scripts

These works incorporate elements of storytelling that may not always be present in other forms of writing. A newspaper article will often have a setting, action, and characters; creative writing will offer plot, pacing, and drama in describing the same story.

What is Creative Writing Coursework Like in College Degree Programs?

university student on steps at school

All university students are exposed to basic coursework in English language and communication skills. These all go to the elementary aspects of writing—the ability to construct a sentence, a paragraph, a paper. They teach grammatical rules and other elements that make a work readable to any reader of the English language.

Even the general education requirements in college programs touch on creative writing, however. Students may be assigned to write essays that explore creative styles and imagination. They’ll be assigned to read novels and stories that are time-tested examples of the finest kinds of creative writing. And they’ll be asked to explore their impressions and feelings, and to exercise their imaginations and analyze the intent of the author.

Creative writing programs go beyond the basics to touch the imagination of the writer.

Creative writing exists just on the other side of those general English and literature courses. Students in creative writing classes will be asked to take the extra step of creating their own stories using the techniques they have learned.

In fact, they may be encouraged to break the same rules that were so laboriously learned in their regular English writing classes. Creative writing works to allow writers to tap into their own imagination and emotion to forge a deeper connection with readers.

Student Workshops Offer an Interactive Way of Learning What Creative Writing Is All About

Creative writing degrees will go much further into developing a sense of what creative writing is. they continue to include many reading assignments. but instructors also introduce concepts such as:.

Genre is the method used to categorize written works. Creative writing programs explore the tropes and expectations that exist for different genres and deconstruct them for better understanding.

Story structure and form

The structure and form of a novel and a short story are very different. Creative writing programs explore different formats and how they impact creative storytelling.

Plot is not a universal feature of creative writing, but a good plot can make or break a creative work. Classes look at the features and composition of plot, and also teach plotting.

Voice, tone, and creative expression all come out of the narration of a piece of creative writing. Creative writing courses explore both the textbook forms of narrative and show how to use it to serve plot and story.

Style and rhythm

One clear feature of creative writing in all genres is that it rests on a sense of rhythm and of styling that other types of writing ignore. Many courses found in creative writing degree programs explore the ways in which writing style serves story and hooks the reader.

In addition to formal classes, students will better learn why creative writing is important and the purposes it serves through workshops. These informal gatherings are designed to foster discussion, to present examples of different types of writing, and to critique and hone individual creative writing skills .

Through that process, creative writing degrees help students better identify what creative writing is and how to use it effectively.

Creativity is Important No Matter What Your Career Goals in Writing May Be

dedicated student at coffee shop studying

Creative writing training allows writers in any genre to develop more complete, more meaningful, and more memorable ways to get a point across. Using the skills and techniques learned in creative writing courses can inject humor, gravity, and other sensations into any piece of writing. And those very techniques can improve concision and clarity.

Figuring out what creative writing is and what it is not, is the first thing you should leave behind in a writing career. The dry definitions of the dictionary or droning English professors are the last place you should look.

Creative writing is the process of engaging your imagination and talent to serve the purpose of whatever piece of writing you are working on. And that’s why creative writing is important.

Technical vs. Academic, Creative, Business, and Literary Writing: What Is the Difference?

definition of creative writing and technical writing

Technical writing is all about the content that focuses on providing detailed and clear information on the product or service. It contains a factual and straightforward message. Technical writers convert complex technical information into useful and easy-to-understand language. You should know that there are different types of technical writing , for example, online tutorials , instruction manuals, API documentation, and so on.

The main idea of all types of technical writing is to help the end-user understand any technical aspect of the product or service.

In addition to technical writing, there are many types of other writings, such as creative, business, and literary writing. All of them have distinctive features. Let’s compare these writings to technical writing and see what they have in common and what makes them different.

Technical Writing vs. Academic Writing

Some people might think these two types of writing are similar. The truth is that these are two completely different categories. It may seem that academic writing should be more complicated since it is focused on some specific and narrow discipline. Indeed, this type of writing may describe very complex concepts and provide specialized knowledge.

Technical writing is intended to describe technical information. It may vary depending on the specifics of a particular industry.

Academic writing is aimed to present a certain point of view on a particular subject. Academic papers show results of research and demonstrate someone’s knowledge. In turn, technical writing explains something to readers and informs them. Technical papers often explain how to use a particular product or service. Technical documents can also describe procedures used by the manufacturer to perform certain tasks. What technical and academic writing have in common is that both types may contain jargon.

Academic and technical writing target different audiences. Academic papers are usually intended for fellow scholars. However, there are also academic pieces of writing intended for a broad audience. Technical writing is intended for people who use a product or service.

Technical Writing vs. Creative Writing

Creative writing is a piece of writing for entertainment and education. It focuses on imaginative and symbolic content, and creative papers are published to entertain, provoke, inspire the user. Technical writing, on the other hand, is not done to amuse its reader. It is used to inform someone. Some technical articles are sometimes made to trigger the reader to take action.

There is no such specific reader who prefers creative papers. Anyone can read the creative paper if they want to, and it gives readers a theme, message, moral, or lesson which is helpful in their real lives or provides temporary entertainment to the reader.

Creative writing has many genres and subgenres. If you want to write creatively, you should have talent. Of course, talent alone is not enough - practice is everything here.

It doesn’t mean that creativity can’t be used in technical writing. Technical articles contain so many facts and data that they can bore and overwhelm readers. This is where creativity in technical writing might come in handy. A tech writer should be creative to encourage their readers to continue reading the document.

hands pointing on documents with a pen

Technical Writing vs. Business Writing

Business writing is just about any kind of writing people do at work, if we are not talking about journalism or creative writing. Business writing includes reports, emails, proposals, white papers, minutes, business cases, letters, copywriting, bids, and tenders.

However, many reports, bids, and proposals contain technical data and specifications. So business writers may find themselves editing technical content, and technical writers may be called upon to write persuasive documents for a non-technical audience.

The main objective for both these writings is to inform, be useful, build something or operate the equipment.

The language needs to be clear, concise, and accurate. Wordiness, repetition, and unfamiliar words that the audience may not understand do not belong in either business or technical writing.

Of course, you can use technical jargon in documents where the audience has the same technical background. But too much jargon tends to be a huge problem. So, if in doubt, avoid jargon or explain it.

Some business documents need to be persuasive, whereas technical documents tend to be neutral and objective.

However, there are differences in the content, language, and style of technical and business writing. More on technical writing in business is in our article What Value Technical Writers Bring to Business?

Technical Writing vs. Literary Writing

The main difference between technical writing and literary writing is that literary language is used in literary work while technical writing is used in writing for a particular field. Literary writing is used in fiction. Examples of literary writing include poems, novels, short stories, dramas, etc. The language used in literary writing is creative, imaginative and uses literary techniques like hyperbole, personification, similes, metaphors, etc.

Technical writing is the style of writing that is mostly observed in non-fiction. The language used in technical writing is direct, factual, and straightforward.

Literary writing appeals to emotions. Technical writing appeals to the mind.

Technical writing is aimed at people who have knowledge about a particular subject area. Literary writing is written for general readers.

flatlay pens pencils notebook laptop

Every writing style is important in its own way. They are used by writers depending on the subject matter, purpose, language, and target audience. Below is the table that summarizes what you found out about the types of writing mentioned in this article:

comparison table of writings

It doesn’t matter what you write: essays, business materials, fiction, letters, or just notes in your journal, your writing will be at its best if you stay focused on your purpose and target audience.

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Introducing Technical Writing

Dawn Atkinson and Sarah Raymond

Chapter Overview

This chapter aims to help you understand what technical writing is, what it is used for, and what characteristics and conventions help to define it.

A Definition of Technical Writing

Although you may not yet be fully familiar with the characteristics of technical writing, you have likely experienced technical writing at one time or another in your daily life as a student, employee, or consumer. Technical writing , according to this book’s definition, aims to help individuals perform workplace tasks, carry out a series of operations, understand concepts or research, solve problems, operate technology, or communicate in a professional manner. You may have encountered technical writing in textbooks, operations manuals, company policies, or illustrations in magazine articles. To extend our definition of technical writing, textbook author Last (2019, p. 6) explains that this form of non-fiction writing communicates information for practical and specific purposes, takes document design into account, and is usually intended for particular readers.

The Characteristics of Technical Writing

When we employ technical writing, we strive to keep readers in mind and tailor our communication for a particular purpose. The audience for a piece of technical writing is the individuals who will read the text. Since technical writing may be used in multimedia documents, such as presentations, videos, and podcasts, an audience might also include listeners, viewers, and users. The purpose for a piece of technical writing signifies the reason it has been produced. In general, the purpose for a piece of communication is either to entertain, sell, inform, or persuade; however, documents may also address more than one of these purposes. Technical writing, in comparison, may be produced with more specific purposes in mind, such as to provide or ask for information, record details, or convince readers of something (Last & Neveu, 2019, p. 18). Again, technical documents may also reflect more than one of these purposes.

Seven attributes help to define technical writing and ensure that it adequately addresses audience and purpose. Specifically, technical writing is clear, coherent, concise, concrete, correct, complete, and courteous. The following definitions of these characteristics are adapted from Last (2019, pp. 43-44).

Clear writing communicates a writer’s ideas and purpose in a straightforward manner. It targets a particular audience by being precise and moderating technical words, obscure phrases, and jargon , specialized language or terminology used in a particular field of study or workplace environment. It also foregrounds important information for the benefit of readers and conveys one main idea per paragraph.

Coherent writing builds links between ideas so readers can easily follow them. One idea should lead logically into the next via use of transitional words and phrases, intentional repetition, sentences with clear subjects, specific and informative titles and headings, parallel lists, and consistent document design. When writing is coherent, readers can easily track thoughts and lines of reasoning; incoherent writing, in comparison, is choppy and hard to follow since its ideas appear to be disconnected or incomplete.

Concise writing is efficient: it delivers its message clearly without using extraneous words that slow readers. To produce concise writing, avoid unnecessary padding in sentences, awkward phrasing, overuse of be verbs ( is , are , was , were , am , be , being , been ), long preposition strings, vague language (words like good , bad , and do ), unnecessary repetition, and redundancy. In addition, use active verbs whenever possible, and take the time to select a single, expressive word rather than using a long or clichéd phrase. Think of your word count like a budget; be frugal by making sure every word you choose works hard to communicate meaning.

Concrete writing uses specific, exact language so readers can easily understand points. If you have to explain an abstract concept, use familiar examples, everyday comparisons, and precise language. In addition, use measurable or specific descriptors whenever possible instead of words that encompass a range of interpretations (e.g., big , little , very , extremely , and great ).

Correct writing uses conventional English punctuation, capitalization, grammar, and sentence structures; provides accurate information that is communicated in an ethical way; and employs the right document type for the task.

Complete writing includes all requested information and answers all relevant questions. Carefully read and follow specifications to ensure your documents are complete.

Courteous writing employs an intuitive design that is easy to scan; uses respectful language; addresses readers appropriately; and avoids potentially offensive terms and tone.

Writing that is clear, coherent, concise, concrete, correct, complete, and courteous establishes credibility with readers, demonstrates dedication and care, and communicates messages convincingly.

The Conventions of Technical Writing

Documents typically follow conventions , expectations about key features that affect how they are organized, designed, and written. Conventions help readers recognize and categorize documents into genres , or types of writing; conventions also help writers to produce texts in line with accepted standards.

Certain conventions typify technical writing as a means for communicating information clearly and effectively to people who need it. Table 1 provides an overview of these conventions.

The conventions outlined in Table 1 help make technical writing easy-to-navigate and reader focused.

Activity A: Identify the Audiences for Pieces of Technical Writing

Read the extract.

An extract from the article “Remote Reefs and Seamounts are the Last Refuges for Marine Predators across the Indo-Pacific” (Letessier et al., 2019, “Abstract”)

What can you tell about the intended audience for the text?

Read another example of technical writing.

A set of instructions for a Creative Commons game adapted from Northwest Vista College Library

Creative Commons Matching Game. Introduction: this hands-on activity will help players 1)recognize the characteristics of each of the six Creative Commons license logos adn two Public Domain licenses and 2)understand what each license gives them permission to do. Materials: each group should have six of the following at their table: CC logo cards, CC description cards, examples of resources that use CC licenses. Instructions: 1)work as a group to match the CC logo cards to the appropriate CC license description cards. 2) find the appropriate resource that matches each license. Hint: each resource will indicate which CC license it uses but some of them are easier to find than others.

Figure 2: “ Creative Commons Matching Game ” by AmandaMG is licensed under CC BY 4.0. Information and images about the licenses are from Creative Commons.

What can you tell about the intended audience for this document?

Now read a third example of technical writing in Figure 3. I nfographics combine text, visuals, and numbers to communicate dense information in quick and easy-to-read formats.

An infographic focusing on how overfishing affects coral reefs (NOAA, 2018)

Infographic that describes how overfishing destroys coral reefs using imagery of fishing boats, sea life, and reefs coupled with informational paragraphs.

Lastly, read the document in Figure 4.

Comparative Essays

Writing a comparison usually requires that you assess the similarities and differences between two or more theories , procedures , or processes . You explain to your reader what insights can be gained from the comparison, or judge whether one thing is better than another according to established criteria. Helpful tip: When you are asked to write a comparative essay, remember that, unless you are instructed otherwise, you are usually being asked to assess both similarities and differences . Such essays may be called comparative essays , comparison essays , or compare-and-contrast essays .

How to write a comparative essay

  • Establish a basis of comparison A basis of comparison represents the main idea , category , or theme you will investigate. You will have to do some preliminary reading , likely using your course materials, to get an idea of what kind of criteria you will use to assess whatever you are comparing. A basis of comparison must apply to all items you are comparing, but the details will be different. For example, if you are asked to “compare neoclassical architecture and gothic architecture,” you could compare the influence of social context on the two styles.
  • Gather the details of whatever you are comparing   Once you have decided what theme or idea you are investigating, you will need to gather details of whatever you are comparing, especially in terms of similarities and differences . Doing so allows you to see which criteria you should use in your comparison, if not specified by your professor or instructor.

Helpful tip: Organize your criteria in columns or a Venn diagram ; using visual methods to map your pre-writing work can help you to stay on track and more clearly get a sense of how the essay will be structured.

Based on the information in the above table, you could focus on how ornamentation and design principles reveal prevailing intellectual thought about architecture in the respective eras and societies.

  • Develop a thesis statement After brainstorming, try to develop a thesis statement that identifies the results of your comparison. Here is an example of a fairly common thesis statement structure: e.g., Although neoclassical architecture and gothic architecture have [similar characteristics A and B], they reveal profound differences in their interpretation of [C, D, and E].

Helpful tip: Avoid a thesis statement that simply states your obvious purpose. e.g., The aim of this essay is to compare [A and B] with reference to [X, Y, and Z].

  • Organize your comparison You have a choice of two basic methods for organizing a comparative essay: the point-by-point method or the block method. The point-by-point method examines one aspect of comparison in each paragraph and usually alternates back and forth between the two objects, texts, or ideas being compared. This method allows you to emphasize points of similarity and of difference as you proceed. In the block method , however, you say everything you need to say about one thing, then do the same thing with the other. This method works best if you want readers to understand and agree with the advantages of something you are proposing, such as introducing a new process or theory by showing how it compares to something more traditional.

Sample outlines for comparative essays on neoclassical and gothic architecture

Building a point-by-point essay.

Using the point-by-point method in a comparative essay allows you to draw direct comparisons and produce a more tightly integrated essay. Helpful tip: Note that you can have more than three points of comparison , especially in longer essays. The points can be either similarities or differences. Overall, in order to use this method, you must be able to apply criteria to every item, text, or idea you are comparing.

  • Introductory material
  • Thesis: Although neoclassical and gothic architecture are both western European forms that are exemplified in civic buildings and churches, they nonetheless reveal, through different structural design and ornamentation, the different intellectual principles of the two societies that created them.
  • Why this comparison is important and what it tells readers

Building a block method essay

Using the block method in a comparative essay can help ensure that the ideas in the second block build upon or extend ideas presented in the first block. It works well if you have three or more major areas of comparison instead of two (for example, if you added in a third or fourth style of architecture, the block method would be easier to organize).

  • Thesis: The neoclassical style of architecture was a conscious rejection of the gothic style that had dominated in France at the end of the middle ages; it represented a desire to return to the classical ideals of Greece and Rome.
  • Text 1: History and development
  • Text 2: Change from earlier form; social context of new form
  • Synthesis and analysis: What does the comparison reveal about architectural development?

How do the audiences for the four examples you looked at differ? How might these differences have shape the documents’ development? Please be prepared to discuss your ideas in class.

Activity B: Consider the Implications of Integrity in the Workplace

As this chapter mentions, correct technical communication is truthful in its message and is communicated ethically. To explore what these concepts mean from various perspectives, read the following piece, composed by Sarah Raymond, Director of Career Services at Montana Technological University. In 2020, Ms. Raymond conducted a series of informational interviews with employers to discover what integrity means to them. After you have read the text, work with classmates to address the questions that follow. Be prepared to discuss your team’s responses in class.

What do you do when no one is watching?

Although integrity, by definition, is “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles” (Lexico, 2020, definition one), it is one of those abstract personal traits that can be difficult to pin down. Regardless, most people know what it is when they see it. You have probably witnessed times when people have disregarded integrity and may or may not have been caught. It can be devastating to watch when someone does get exposed, either as a result of a serious infraction or several small infractions that have previously been overlooked. In either case, the repercussions can be great.

Integrity is certainly important in academics, as academia is a training ground for the workplace. During her interview, Koren Vining, Vice President and Branch Manager at Cetera Investors, concurred with this view: “College gives you time to practice integrity and hone those skills, [and]…if you screw up, it isn’t life altering.”  Mistakes can, in fact, help people learn. Vining said she hopes her children learn from their mistakes before they enter employment—before their actions can really hurt their lives. To be sure, lapses in judgement, integrity, and ethical decision making can lead to substantial costs in the workplace (for example, your job, your money, your time, other people’s time, and other people’s money).

Companies recognize integrity in their employees and tend to promote those who work hard, do a good job, and have impeccable behavior. What leaders do and how they behave matters because people are always watching. Quality leadership correlates with a high degree of integrity (as well as transparency, accountability, responsibility, self-awareness, and other traits). Vining explained,

There comes a time when you are ready to take the next step; by having worked the right way , you have put in the effort, you have practiced the skills for future success. If you have been accidentally successful, there will come a time when it will crash.

Working in an investment firm, Vining has unfortunately seen this destructive situation happen to former employees. In a highly regulated business, someone is always watching.

As a testament to her integrity as a leader, Vining has shared pieces of her management style and has been open with members of her work team. This transparency allows her team members to be successful on their own terms. To encourage their success and self-sufficiency, Vining shares the following guidance with her team members:

Do your work. If you need a boss, someone to stand over you, this isn’t going to be a successful working relationship. However, if you need some structure and a coach, you can dictate your own success. Are you working on your own plan, or are you working on a plan that belongs to someone else?

Vining clearly values her employees’ beliefs in their ability to be successful and is transparent in her expectations.

In today’s new abnormal, remote work is something many people have experienced for a sustained period of time. Maybe you have even experienced a remote classroom that was not what you had planned when you registered for the term. In this type of situation, discipline and focus will serve you well as opposed to trying to avoid hard work by taking short cuts. In relation to this point, Vining asked, “How do you want people to think about you?”  In other words, what do they say about you when you are not there? Your personal brand and what you stand for matter in the workplace.

Putting in extra effort and time on tasks can cause stress, but Vining shared an alternate view: “Unless you are really a crappy person, there is stress involved with taking the short-cut too.”  In other words, taking short cuts to circumvent hard work is stressful because of the fear of getting caught.

Vining offered sage advice as a 19-year recruiting veteran: “Cultivate personal integrity. You will be more apt to have more success.”  At the companies she has worked, she has been fortunate to witness corporate America elevate people who have integrity. And, conversely, she has seen those who do not demonstrate integrity suffer. “Eventually it comes out, it may be post-mortem and that is certainly not how you want to be remembered.”  When you are responsible for someone else’s resources (money, time, property) in a job, people expect you to value that position. Employers trust you to make the next right decision.

According to Glen Fowler, the former President of Mountain Pacific Association of Colleges and Employers (MPACE) and the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), the adjectives integrity and credibility are synonymous. “Everything you say, if you are credible, I believe you without question. It is a distraction if you have to spend time and second guess people.”  Credibility is something that most employers are able to identify early in someone’s career. Similarly, lack of credibility on the job—for example, when steering a team or when reporting back on its work—can be career limiting. “Credibility is about your personal reputation. Once it is marred, it is all over,” according to Fowler. “People underestimate how small the world is. Leadership or decision makers know each other and if not, they will reach out to someone.”  Again, integrity is central to effective workplace performance.

Fowler echoed that academia is the time to develop and hone behavioral integrity. “This is how you are going to conduct yourself in the future.”  During his professional career, while onboarding staff and hiring scores of people, he observed that individuals entering his industry were Type A personalities. “These [were] people who [were] used to having all the answers. We had to break them of that mentality, break the conditioning they had developed. We had to give them the license to say ‘I don’t know.’”  Fowler stressed, “You are better off saying that you don’t know. You are hired for your expertise, but if you start your response with a conditional statement, ‘I think,’ people don’t hear that qualification.” Fowler also emphasized, “A sign of maturity is to admit you don’t have all the answers,” and quickly added, “But you can get them!”

Another subtlety of integrity and a way in which people can get into trouble, according to Fowler, “Is not just what you share, but what you didn’t share even when you knew it would help and yet still withheld it.”  People may not openly communicate for a variety of reasons, none of which may be malicious or self-serving. Maybe they do not communicate because they want to avoid confrontation or uncomfortable situations. Or, they may tell themselves it is not their place to be forthright. Regardless, “A junior-level person can question or stand up to a senior person, based upon perceived facts and still be respected,” according to Fowler. “To become a true leader, it is important to be engaged with your career and know yourself.”  In other words, recognize and own the values that underlay your actions and behaviors.

Employers use job interviews to assess a number of things: for example, skills, past performance, technical expertise, and level of workplace integrity. Some recruiters use behavioral or situational questions to help them better understand how job applicants would handle real-life problems or common situations. Here are a few interview questions for you to consider. How would you answer them during an employment interview?

  • Tell me about a time you were new to a company or work group. What steps did you take to build trust with co-workers and/or staff?
  • Give an example of a time when you over-committed yourself. How did you handle it?
  • Describe a situation when you worked with someone you did not like or respect. How did you cope with the relationship?
  • Tell me about a time when your values were in conflict with your employment organization’s values. What did you do?

Describe what the terms integrity and ethics mean to you. Tell me about a time when your integrity or ethics were challenged. What did you do?

Employers likely will not tell you outright when you are being asked questions about ethics or integrity. They may be more subtle and lay out situations to uncover your core values. Fowler shared, “Employers ask questions in…clever ways. They…[will] tee up a scenario that is specific to their industry. It gets at the heart of your personal judgement, conflict resolution, or teamwork.”  How will you respond? Will you make the next right decision? Are you a match for the team they already have in place?

As an employee, you will be evaluated on the quality of work you produce. That is another way your employer will measure your credibility. Are you performing the responsibilities of your post with integrity? Your employer will trust that you are going to do your work correctly, produce credible deliverables, and communicate effectively throughout projects. Your employer, in short, will rely on you to do what you say you will do in order to uphold the organization’s reputation and your own.

Integrity is clearly more than just the definition of honesty and moral uprightness. Ultimately, all you have is your word. The ability to follow through on your promises contributes to your professional reputation, and relationships and interactions with others count for a great deal. If people are not able to trust or rely on you in the workplace, you will miss opportunities for personal and professional success. Barb Crump, Director of Human Resources at Northern Montana Hospital, deals with people every day in her role. She values fairness in the workplace, and people come to her because they rely on her expertise and trust her willingness to guide them correctly. Crump shared, “Recently there was a post on Facebook that sums up what we are discussing: ‘I no longer listen to what people say. I watch what they do. Behavior doesn’t lie.’”

What are your responses to these items?

  • A new employee received training from someone else in the office. The person responsible for the training withheld information that was critical to completing a particular task. The new employee struggled to complete the task, and the trainer eventually shared the proper information.
  • How might the new employee feel?
  • Why would the person conducting the training withhold information?
  • What was wasted during the process: time, money, opportunities for collaboration and peer-to-peer learning, mental energy, or something else?
  • What might happen to team morale? What might happen to the overall morale in the office?
  • What did the company lose?
  • An employer contacted a university’s career services office to inquire about an intern’s transcript. The employer had worked with this office for some time to offer internship opportunities to students. The intern was required to provide the transcript as a condition of employment, but the employer had concerns about the document since its format did not resemble transcripts that had been provided in the past.
  • What do you think might have happened with the transcript?
  • What was damaged in this situation?
  • How should the employer respond?
  • How should the career services office respond?
  • How should the university respond?
  • Imagine you had the opportunity to interview for a dream job in your field and were provided the list of interview questions in advance. How would you respond to these questions?
  • Tell me about a time you were new to a group. What steps did you take to build trust with its members?
  • Tell me about a time when you encountered a conflict with someone, either at work or in school. What communication strategies did you use to resolve it?

Homework: Email Your Instructor about Your Experiences with Technical Writing

Consider this textbook chapter in relationship to your experience as a student, employee, or consumer. Compose an email to your instructor in which you address the following prompt: What are two kinds of documents you have written or encountered that could be characterized as technical writing, and why? Use standard conventions for professional emails when completing this task. For help with composing and formatting your email, consult the “Writing Electronic Correspondence” chapter of this textbook. This exercise is adapted from Last (2019, p. 9).

Remember to edit, revise, and proofread your message before sending it to your instructor. The following multipage handout, from the Academic Writing Help Centre, Student Academic Success Service, University of Ottawa (2016), may be helpful in this regard.

Sentence Structure

definition of creative writing and technical writing


Academic Writing Help Centre, Student Academic Success Service, University of Ottawa. (2016). Sentence structure . License: CC-BY 4.o . https://sass.uottawa.ca/sites/sass.uottawa.ca/files/awhc-sentence-structure.pdf

Last, Suzan (2019). Technical writing essentials: introduction to professional communication in the technical fields. License: CC-BY-SA-3.0 . Retrieved from https://pressbooks.bccampus.ca/technicalwriting/

Letessier, T.B., Mouillot, D., Bouchet, P.J., Vigliola, L., Fernandes, M.C., Thompson, C., Boussarie, G., Turner, J., Juhel, J.B., Maire, E., Caley, M.J., Koldewey, H.J., Friedlander, A., Sala, E., & Meeuwig, J.J. (2019). Remote reefs and seamounts are the last refuges for marine     predators across the Indo-Pacific. PLoS Biology, 17 (8), e3000366.  https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.3000366

Lexico. (2020). Integrity. In Lexico . Retrieved June 3, 2020, from https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/integrity

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (2018). Threats to coral reefs: Overfishing [Infographic]. https://www.noaa.gov/multimedia/infographic/infographic-how-does-overfishing-threaten-coral-reefs

Northwest Vista College Library. (n.d.). Creative Commons matching game . License: CC-BY 4.0 . https://nvcguides.libguides.com/ccmatchinggame

Writing and Communication Centre, University of Waterloo. (n.d.). Comparative essays . License: CC-BY-SA 4.0 . https://uwaterloo.ca/writing-and-communication-centre/sites/ca.writing-and-communication-centre/files/uploads/files/comparative_essays.pdf

Mindful Technical Writing Copyright © 2020 by Dawn Atkinson and Sarah Raymond is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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What Are The Similarities Of Creative And Technical Writing?

Within the expansive universe of written expression, two seemingly divergent galaxies—creative writing and technical writing—find themselves orbiting around shared principles of communication. The question arises: What are the similarities of creative and technical writing? Beneath their apparent dichotomy lies a convergence of essential elements that serve as the cornerstone of effective writing.

Both realms demand clarity, structure, audience consideration, language mastery, and a commitment to revision. Creative writing, with its artistic tapestry of emotions and imagery, converges with technical writing’s precise architecture of information delivery. These disciplines, seemingly poles apart, intersect in various domains, often resulting in a fusion that marries creativity with technical precision.

Let’s know how both creative and technical writing contribute vital threads to the fabric of effective communication. As we delve deeper, the shared traits and intertwined nature of these writing forms emerge, illuminating a path to harness their combined strengths for comprehensive and impactful expression.

Also Like To Know: Technical writing examples in creative writing

Table of Contents

Meaning of Creative Writing

Creative writing, often seen as the artistic expression of thoughts and emotions, encompasses various forms, including fiction, poetry, drama, and creative nonfiction. It thrives on imagination, symbolism, and the ability to evoke emotions through language. The creative writer is an artist, painting vivid landscapes with words, and crafting narratives that captivate, inspire, and entertain.

Technical Writing Unveiled Meaning

On the other hand, technical writing stands as the backbone of structured communication, offering clarity and precision in conveying complex information. It’s the architect laying the blueprint for user manuals, reports, instructions, and documentation. The technical writer navigates through data, facts, and procedures, aiming for clarity and comprehension rather than artistic expression.

Is technical writing the same with creative writing?

No, technical writing and creative writing are not the same. They represent distinct styles and serve different purposes in the realm of writing.

What Are The Similarities Of Creative And Technical Writing?

Technical Writing :

  • Purpose : Technical writing aims to convey information, instructions, or explanations in a clear, concise, and structured manner. It’s primarily used in fields such as science, technology, engineering, and business to communicate complex ideas to specific audiences.
  • Style : It emphasizes clarity, accuracy, and precision. Technical writing often uses a formal tone, employs industry-specific terminology, and follows a structured format. The goal is to provide information that is easily understandable and actionable for the intended audience.
  • Examples : User manuals, scientific reports, technical guides, instruction manuals, whitepapers, and any documentation that requires clarity and accuracy fall under technical writing.

Creative Writing :

  • Purpose : Creative writing focuses on expressing emotions, imagination, storytelling, and literary artistry. It aims to entertain, inspire, or evoke emotions in readers through narrative, descriptive language, and storytelling.
  • Style : It allows for artistic freedom, exploring various literary techniques like metaphors, similes, imagery, and unique narrative structures. Creative writing often involves character development, setting, themes, and plot development.
  • Examples : Novels, short stories, poetry, plays, scripts, and any form of writing where the primary goal is to engage the audience through creativity and artistic expression fall under creative writing.

Here are the major differences between Creative And Technical Writing

1. Clarity and Precision in Expression

Both creative and technical writing demand clarity and precision in their expression. While creative writing focuses on crafting imagery and emotions, technical writing aims for clear, concise language to convey information accurately. In both realms, the choice of words and their arrangement is deliberate, aiming to resonate with the intended audience.

2. Structure and Organization

Structure is the backbone of effective writing in both creative and technical spheres. Creative writers weave narratives with a well-defined structure, utilizing elements like plot, character development, and pacing. Similarly, technical writers employ logical structures, headings, bullet points, and numbered lists to organize information in a coherent and easily digestible manner.

3. Audience-Centric Approach

Understanding the audience is pivotal in both creative and technical writing. Creative writers craft stories to evoke emotions, engage readers, and create a connection. Likewise, technical writers analyze their audience to tailor content that meets their needs, ensuring information is accessible and comprehensible to the intended users.

4. Mastery of Language and Style

Both genres require a mastery of language and style, albeit with different objectives. Creative writers explore language for its aesthetic appeal, playing with metaphors, similes, and imagery. Meanwhile, technical writers employ a consistent and formal style, focusing on clarity and simplicity while adhering to industry-specific terminologies.

5. Revision and Iteration

Revision is a common thread in both creative and technical writing . The process of refining, editing, and polishing is integral to achieving the desired impact. Creative writers often undergo multiple drafts to refine their narratives, while technical writers meticulously review content to ensure accuracy and coherence.

The Intersection of Creativity and Technicality

Amidst their apparent disparities, creative and technical writing intersect in certain scenarios, resulting in a hybrid form that marries creativity with technical precision. Consider marketing copy, where creativity is employed to engage the audience, but technical accuracy is crucial in conveying product specifications or features.

Similarly, instructional manuals or scientific articles often demand a fusion of creativity to maintain reader interest while ensuring precise information delivery. The balance between engaging storytelling and factual accuracy exemplifies the amalgamation of these two writing domains.

Embracing the Fusion: Advantages and Opportunities

Understanding the similarities between creative and technical writing unveils a spectrum of advantages for writers venturing into both realms. A writer proficient in creative expression can infuse storytelling elements into technical content, making it more engaging and accessible to a broader audience.

Conversely, a technical writer well-versed in conveying complex information with clarity can lend precision and structure to creative narratives, enhancing readability and coherence.

Major Similarities of Creative and Technical Writing

These are the 13 key differences between creative writing and technical writing:

Conclusion: Bridging the Divide for Holistic Expression

So, that’s all about “What Are The Similarities of Creative and Technical Writing?” reveals an intricate web of shared elements within these seemingly distinct domains. Despite their apparent differences in purpose, style, and audience, creative and technical writing converge on essential aspects of effective communication.

Both creative and technical writing necessitate a profound understanding of audience needs, emphasizing clarity, precision, and effective organization. They share a commitment to language mastery, albeit with divergent objectives—one aiming for artistic expression and the other for informational delivery.

Moreover, structural elements like organization, revision processes, and audience engagement remain pivotal in both realms. The intersection of creativity and technicality, though manifesting differently, highlights their complementary roles in the broader spectrum of written expression.

What are the similarities and differences between creative writing and academic writing?

Both creative writing and academic writing involve the use of language, require clarity, and necessitate revision for effective communication.

What is the purpose of technical writing and creative writing?

The purpose of technical writing is to convey information, instructions, or explanations in a clear, concise, and structured manner, aiming for accuracy and comprehension in fields like science, technology, and business.

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Technical Writing

  • An Introduction to Punctuation
  • Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia
  • M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester
  • B.A., English, State University of New York

Technical writing is a specialized form of exposition : that is, written communication done on the job, especially in fields with specialized vocabularies, such as science, engineering, technology, and the health sciences. Along with business writing, technical writing is often subsumed under the heading of professional communication .

About Technical Writing

The Society for Technical Communication (STC) offers this definition of technical writing: "the process of gathering information from experts and presenting it to an audience in a clear, easily understandable form." It can take the form of writing an instruction manual for software users or detailed specifications for an engineering project—and myriad other types of writing in technical, medicine, and science fields.

In an influential article published in 1965, Webster Earl Britton concluded that the essential characteristic of technical writing is "the effort of the author to convey one meaning and only one meaning in what he says."

Characteristics of Technical Writing

Here are its main characteristics:

  • Purpose :  Getting something done within an organization (completing a project, persuading a customer, pleasing your boss, etc.)
  • Your knowledge of the topic:  Usually greater than that of the reader
  • Audience :  Often several people, with differing technical backgrounds
  • Criteria for evaluation:  Clear and simple organization of ideas, in a format that meets the needs of busy readers
  • Statistical and graphic support:  Frequently used to explain existing conditions and to present alternative courses of action 

Differences Between Tech and Other Types of Writing 

The "Handbook of Technical Writing" describes the craft's goal this way: "The goal of  technical writing  is to enable readers to use a technology or understand a process or concept. Because the subject matter is more important than the writer's  voice , technical writing  style  uses an objective, not a subjective,  tone . The writing style is direct and utilitarian, emphasizing exactness and clarity rather than elegance or allusiveness. A technical writer uses figurative language only when a figure of speech would facilitate understanding."

Mike Markel notes in "Technical Communication," "The biggest difference between technical communication and the other kinds of writing you have done is that technical communication has a somewhat different focus on  audience  and  purpose ."

In "Technical Writing, Presentational Skills, and Online Communication," computer science professor Raymond Greenlaw notes that the "writing style in technical writing is more prescriptive than in creative writing. In technical writing, we are not so much concerned about entertaining the audience as we are about conveying specific information to our readers in a concise and precise manner."

Careers & Study

People can study technical writing in college or technical school, though a student doesn't have to earn a full degree in the field for the skill to be useful in his or her job. Employees in technical fields who have good communication skills can learn on the job through feedback from their team members as they work on projects, supplementing their work experience through taking occasional targeted courses to further develop their skills. Knowledge of the field and its specialized vocabulary is the most important piece for technical writers, just as in other niche writing areas, and can command a paid premium over generalist writers.

  • Gerald J. Alred, et al., "Handbook of Technical Writing." Bedford/St. Martin's, 2006.
  • Mike Markel, "Technical Communication." 9th ed. Bedford/St. Martin's, 2010.
  • William Sanborn Pfeiffer, "Technical Writing: A Practical Approach." Prentice-Hall, 2003.
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  • Paragraph Length in Compositions and Reports
  • How to Use English Grammar for Writing Instructions
  • Collaborative Writing
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  • Definition and Examples of Rhetorical Stance
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What is Technical Writing?

What is Technical Writing?

Table of Contents

Traditional definition of technical writing, new definition of technical writing, how is technical writing different than business writing, what is the job of a technical writer, career outlook for a technical writer, types of technical writing, a day in the life of a technical writer, skills needed for technical writing, how to improve your technical writing skills, the world is a tech writer’s oyster.

Are you looking to understand what technical writing is and how you can become more proficient?

Technical writing continues to be a highly coveted skill in the professional workplace. Demand is expected to grow at 10% from 2014 to 2024. This is faster than the average for all occupations.

In this article, we cover the exact definition of technical writing. We also show you an average day for a technical writer, how to improve your skills when writing complex documents, and why the field is quickly changing.

What is technical writing? The traditional definition of technical writing is:

Technical writing is the practice of documenting processes, such as software manuals or instructional materials. Traditionally, it was limited to user manuals of some sort.

Frankly, this definition has become outdated. Technology moves quickly, and lexicographers are often left playing catch up.

Today, technical writing encompasses all documentation of complex technical processes. It includes reports, executive summary statements, and briefs. Any time technical information is conveyed in writing at work, it is, by definition, technical writing.

This can include high-tech manufacturing, engineering, biotech, energy, aerospace, finance, IT, and global supply chain.

The format is no longer bound to lengthy user manuals. Technical information must be distilled and presented unambiguously. This can come in the form of technical reports, emails, policy, briefs, and press releases.

The bottom line is if you work in a technical field you are most likely performing technical writing.

The new definition starts to sound a lot like the definition of business writing .

However, a business writer focuses on business plans, case studies, e-books, and sales/marketing collateral. They are experts in strategy and business management. 

In contrast, technical writers have a strong aptitude in the field of science, engineering, or IT. They are tasked with the compilation of technical documents such as instruction manuals and other instructional materials, guidebooks, technical product descriptions, and research reports.

There are quite a few differences between the two, which you can read about in this article .


Become a technical writer today and advance your career in our course

Our Technical Report Writing course includes instructor feedback and guidance at key points while you write an actual work document. Receive one-on-one coaching to review your final document.

The job of a technical writer will differ depending on the industry and company that they are employed with. But t he important task of a technical writer is taking the highly complicated and sometimes confusing subject matter, and putting it in a digestible format.

This is of particular importance in a variety of industries but specifically science or technology such as biotech, engineering, manufacturing, software, and healthcare. 

Technical writers often work on multidisciplinary teams functioning as the mediator between the more technical staff and less technical readers. They will work closely with these teams to develop a communications strategy.

Their responsibilities can extend beyond just writing. They must understand the entire project from high-level goals to the intricacies of implementation.

Educational experience for a technical writer can vary, but the majority of professionals hold a BA in English with an emphasis in writing, journalism, communications, curriculum development, IT, software/computer, or engineering. Some also possess an MA in technical writing. 


Over the past couple of years, the workplace has undergone a revolution in terms of how we communicate with colleagues, clients, and end-users. Due to fewer face-to-face meetings, technology , and the written word have become more important. This is a perfect platform for the burgeoning of the field of technical writing. 

Technical writing jobs are growing at a faster rate than average, at 12%. The salary range of a technical writer varies, but the average median wage is $61,671 . A technical writer is defined as one who authors descriptive manuals and guides as it relates to the complex subject matter. Job duties include:

  • Researching topics
  • Writing technical documentation
  • Editing for publications
  • Revising technical documents (guidebook, reports, brochures, articles)

Check out the summary table below highlighting the differences in types of technical writing and industries that need these documents:

At first, it may be overwhelming to see so many different types of technical documents. But each document uses a similar writing process and draws on an established set of skills. If you develop a process, you can apply it to any technical document you are creating.


Many excellent writers are intrigued by the work environment of a professional technical writer . They find the quiet and tranquility of the atmosphere as a genuine job perk. Being alone with just a computer for researching and crafting documents through a technical writing process appeals to the introverted. Writers from all corners of the globe share their love for a job that can be more of a passion. 

When defining what technical writing is , it’s important to look at the persona of a technical writer and explore dominant character traits. Unsurprisingly, a professional in this field is marked as artistic and investigative . They are especially inquisitive. A fun fact is that Leonardo da Vinci is deemed the most famous technical writer of all time. Apparently, during the period of the Renaissance, he wrote ‘user manuals’ for his unique inventions.

As you further your understanding of technical writing and your technical knowledge, you may want to evaluate if it matches your personality type. It’s recommended to do a self-assessment and consider your personal strengths and talents when pursuing a new professional career.

To be a successful technical writer, there is a core set of skills that you will want to master. Here are some of the most common skills needed to be successful:  

Research is one of the first steps in technical writing. After you have an assignment, you will be responsible for collecting the data (numerical and non-numerical) and turning it into valuable information.

Research can come from a variety of places including:

  • On-Site Data
  • Online and Intranet Publications
  • Libraries and Research Databases

After you have researched, you will need to synthesize and begin planning your document organization.

Audience perception

The technical information you research and gather has to be shaped for reader interest, understanding, and perception.

Technical writers often have to communicate highly technical information to a non-technical audience. Therefore, an early step in the most effective technical writing process is analyzing your audience carefully so you can match information to their needs.

Communication skills

Communication skills are imperative to be a successful technical writer. You will likely be working with multiple teams and individuals from differing roles.

Your ability to listen, record, and communicate will be crucial.

Technical skills

It is imperative that you understand the technical nature of the content you are writing about.

It is difficult to convey a concept that you have not mastered clearly. Many technical writers have academic or work experience in the topic they are writing about and many technical writers have job titles of engineer, geologist, seismologist, financial analyst, or business analyst. They are employed in technical positions and have to summarize information cross-functionally to other areas of the company.

Technical writing is slightly easier if you come from the technical side and are learning to write. It is sometimes more difficult if your background is in writing and you are trying to learn the technical content.

Excellent writing skills ensure your documents are easy to read and are free of errors. Writing encompasses many of the other skills on this list.

It is important that you have the correct tone, style, and format for your document.

Often these rules are outlined by the employing organization in a style guide.

Document design

It is important that the graphics aid the reader in comprehending the information. Graphs, tables, and charts are commonplace in technical reports.

You will also need to be proficient in formatting documents. The formatting should be professional and aid the reader in navigating the document. Headings should be easy to skim, and the content should be organized logically.

A poorly designed document will make it more difficult for the reader to understand the content. Document design is a key aspect of technical writing.

Fluency with digital tools

Today, writers must use multiple tools during the technical writing process. This often goes beyond basic text editors. Technical writers are expected to be able to create graphics and annotate images and screen captures and extract data from Excel and convey that data in charts and tables.

User research and testing

Some forms of technical writing may require user research and testing. An example application where detailed research and testing would be appropriate is a written guide instructing engineers how to fix a faulty mechanism on a deep ocean oil rig.

It is important that the documentation is easy to follow, especially if the application is crucial to a major function. To accurately write the guide, the writer may first observe how engineers solve the problem. They may use recording devices or just notes to write down the research. This type of research is closely related to testing.

Testing is necessary to ensure your document functions as intended.

After the writer has completed a draft of the document, they may give it to a test group to read. They can then observe the end users following the instructions in real-time.

They may follow up with a focus group or survey to get feedback on the usefulness of the document. They will use these real-world insights as they revise the document.

Even in less complex or critical applications, it is always a good idea to have a third party read over the text. This helps combat the curse of knowledge. The curse of knowledge is a cognitive bias that an individual has when trying to explain something they already understand. As an expert, it is hard to put yourself in the shoes of a learner who is less experienced.

This is why having a second set of eyes look at the document can help alert you to areas that need to be improved. 


Write any technical document and get instructor feedback and live coaching on your actual writing.

Our technical writing course is available for individuals and groups.

Here are several ways to improve your overall technical writing skills:

One of the best ways to become a better writer is to read. Reading helps you train your brain to understand how to write. The more you read, the easier writing will become for you.

It is critical that you are reading relevant and high-quality documents. Look for documents produced by competitors or writers in related industries. Examine their writing to determine how they organize information through written text.

Create a process

Having a process keeps you from “getting stuck” while writing. Having a clear workflow will help you systematically accomplish your work. We teach a specific process for technical report writing in our technical writing course .

Seek feedback

Getting subjective and objective feedback on your writing is one of the fastest ways to improve your skills. That is why we emphasize individual feedback in all of our courses.

To improve your writing, you need someone to review not only the grammar and syntax but also your approach and methods as a writer.

To truly master technical writing you need to get feedback from a mentor. This may be someone in your organization or through a professional development group. Another great option if you are taking an online course is working with your instructor to improve your writing techniques.

Take a course

Taking a class can be one of the most efficient ways to boost your writing skills quickly. You want to ensure you are enrolling in a course that specializes in technical writing.

It is imperative that the course includes one-on-one feedback and instruction. If you are considering taking an online course (or hiring an instructor to conduct an on-site or virtual workshop) make sure to check out our guide on how to choose an online business writing course .

Repetition is the key to cementing your new skills. Look to incorporate new concepts into your work. You can even review old work to critique what you would do differently if you were to write the document today.

Verify that the course you take includes practice opportunities. For example, does the course require you to map the organization and sequence of a technical document? Since this is a core technical writing skill, you want to make sure you get professional feedback on your ability to do this.

Now that you know precisely what technical writing is , it is an easy path forward. For the curious, educated, and lover of being alone with a laptop and cup of joe, you may view the prospect of a technical writer as the perfect gig. 

The future is bright and the availability of job opportunities is wide. This is the ideal position for those seeking a second promising career or fresh out of school and in search of a writing position that holds great promise. For professionals who claim techno-savvy combined with writing prowess, this is a time of opportunity. Check out the multitude of job openings and job titles in technical writing spanning industry segments. 

Online courses can help you become a stronger technical writer, increase your knowledge level, and hone excellent writing skills. To get ramped up ASAP, enroll in a special technical writing course tailored to aspiring and seasoned technical writers. 

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