Creative Nonfiction Writing


An Introduction to Creative Nonfiction Writing

 

What is creative nonfiction writing? The genre of creative nonfiction (literary nonfiction) is broad. It includes travel writing, nature writing, science writing, sports writing, biography, autobiography, memoir, the interview, and both the familiar and personal essay.

 

Among other things, Nonfiction text must be factually accurate and written with attention to literary style and technique. 

 

“Ultimately, the primary goal of the creative nonfiction writer is to communicate information, just like a reporter, but to shape it in a way that reads like fiction.”


Creative writing doesn’t have a specific definition. The act of writing creatively involves writing all types of non-fiction including some of the categories listed below:

 

Articles, Short stories, Children’s stories, Novels of all kinds, Non-fiction books, Journalism, Radio, TV and the Stage.

 

Evolving Genre- Creative Writing

Huber, S. (2011), contributory author to “Digital Suspicions” and “How Do I Write?” acknowledges that nonfiction is a fourth genre equivalent to poetry, fiction and drama. This includes nonfiction’s subgenres: memoir, nature writing, personal essays, literary journalism, cultural criticism, and travel writing. 

 

Huber, S anthology is aimed at drawing a common ground between the practising writer and the practising scholar so we connect creative writing practice and composition theory. 

 

In doing this, Huber achieved to bridge the gaps between the teaching of composition, creative writing and Literature in the English department.

 

Writing Reports Creatively

Caulley, D. (2008) recommends the use of creative nonfiction techniques in writing reports to make reports less boring. He adds that despite being creative the writer is supposed, to tell the truth. 

 

Gutkind, L describes Creative Nonfiction as the voice of the genre of nonfiction that is packed with news, long-form essays that blend style with substance, writing that pushes the traditional boundaries of the genre, notes and crafts.

 

Is Writing Self-Taught?


There is a myth around the subject of writing. Some people believe writing is self-taught. On the contrary, the Creative Writing course at the University of East Anglia (UEA) produced some impressive results that prove a writer can actually be taught the craft of writing.

 

Bell’s book, The Creative Writing Course (2016) supports the same idea. Bell believes Creative Writing can be taught and this can be achieved in three stages. The first stage is the process of gathering facts and information. Before looking at the information gathering process, let’s address the question below.

 

How do I start writing?

 

We often hear people saying skilful writing comes with practice. Knowing exactly when to pick up your pen and to start writing can be tricky. This can be stemming from a lack of confidence. This is when you don’t believe in yourself.

 

The moment I realised that to generate ideas I had to start writing was the initial step I took to start writing.

(1) Learning to make observations and using your memory. 
Your observations are a useful source of a large pool of information your creative ideas will come from. Writing down some notes is a clever way of starting. Make it a habit to jot things down and keep notes.

 

(2) Choose a concrete subject to write on
To break the ice, just put your pen to paper. Start writing randomly about any subject you like. It’s like someone who is fumbling around and trying to find their way in the dark until they see a ray of light at the end of the tunnel. As you continuously write, you will eventually find your voice.

 

(3) Writing creatively takes a considerable amount of concentration.
Use your notebook to capture things. Everyone is different. Keeping a diary of activities does not suit everybody. So, find what is right for you. Personally, I have come to realize that I work well during quieter spells. Especially in the early hours of the day. I prefer writing down ideas, as they come, on my iPad.

 

(4) Start off with a mind mapping 
Let’s say, you were planning to write a novel, you could start off with doing a mind mapping exercise. This is just to give you a skeletal picture of the themes you want to feature in your novel.  

 

A sketchy plan, to begin with, gives you a guide to follow as you work and continue to add more flesh or ideas. The good side to having a plan is that you can decide where and when to write. Once, you have a plan in place it becomes easier to adhere to it.

 

(5) Boost your vocabulary 
No one knows it all when it comes to writing. Some authors improve with more practice they do. Creative Writing embraces things like developing your imagination and how to develop your powers of observation. To be able to write in a vivid and attention-grabbing manner, a good vocabulary is a must have. This is where you see the benefits of reading widely.

 

(6) Be organised 
To succeed in your creative writing journey, you need to be organized. As mentioned earlier, a plan of action is one such tool that will help you accomplish this goal. Including personal qualities such as perseverance, determination, self-organisation, resilience and confidence.

 

(7) Deal with writers’ block
It’s not a smooth sailing journey, though. Writer’s block can be an issue. More importantly, knowing how to overcome it. There shall come days when you feel you don’t have a creative bone left in your body and you just want to throw in the towel.  

 

Basically, writers’ block means you can become mentally tired and stale if you overdo your writing. One way of getting out of writers’ block situation is going out to meet other writers.

 

The Writers Workshops are good places to hang out with fellow writers. At such events, you get the exposure to engage during brainstorming sessions. This helps you in shaping your ideas and it gives you a picture of what works and what doesn’t work in this area of work. 

 

(8) Networking and sharing of ideas
Networking and sharing ideas at Writers Workshops are key. You get help on how to write your novel up to the finishing stage and publishing. You also learn about the rules for developing a good style and how to avoid common mistakes. Including how to sell your writing.  

 

Why do people write in the first place?
People write out of different motives. Some find solace in writing. Others see writing as a source of pleasure. And some perceive writing as a way to express themselves, to have a voice.

You have to remember that no one can write exactly as you do. ”You are the unique product of unique life history. Even if you had an identical twin, they could never write precisely the poems and stories as you. So if you don’t write in your own particular way, then no one else ever will.” These are words of wisdom from Julia Bell (2016). 

 

There is still a debate going on to prove if creative writing is a skill that can be passed on through teaching. 

 

Looking at the global situation today, the formal teaching of writing is gaining popularity. And it has become evident in the sheer number of courses that are currently available in Britain and elsewhere in the world. 

 

The Writer’s Bureau Comprehensive Writing Course is a good example of writing courses that are available today. 

 

Creative Nonfiction Writing Samples


References

(1) Bell, J. The Creative Writing Coursebook: Forty Authors Share Advice and Exercises for Fiction and Poetry (2004), Pan MacMillan, London.

 

(2) Caulley, D. N. Making Qualitative Research Reports Less Boring: The Techniques Of Writing Creative Non-fiction’ Sage Research Article, Publications,(April:2008).

 

(3) L. Gutkind, L. Creative Non-Fiction: A Movement, Non-A Movement, Journal Article No. 29, Special Issues: A Million Little Choices: The ABCs of CNF, (2006), p. 6-18.


If you have any questions in relation to my blog post, Creative Nonfiction Writing,
please leave them below. I am more than happy to respond as soon as I can.

 

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12 Comments to “Creative Nonfiction Writing”

  1. Josh Ellery says:

    Creative Writing is actually something I was blessed with a gift to have but I didn’t realise until recently when I started my business. I can remember when I was younger and I used to write my own story books and they were really good. What you said about needing concentration is very true, very cool article:-)

    1. Femia says:

      Thank you so much, Josh, for taking time out of your busy schedule to leave a  comment. Thanks again for sharing your own lived experiences. I feel so humbled, knowing that you have walked on the same route of Creative Writing.

  2. Seun Afotanju says:

    Thanks for this interesting review on Creative Nonfictional Writing to clarify that the content of creative nonfiction comes from real life or the experience of the writer. Say, for instance, the writer is using techniques from literary journalism to create a portrait of a person interviewed but how can you know nonfictional writing when you see one? 

    1. Femia says:

      Hi, Seun, thanks so much for the time to read my post and leaving invaluable comments.

      I’m glad to hear that you found my post informative. Coming to your question, ‘How you know nonfictional writing when you see one?

      The answer is despite being creative the writer is supposed, to tell the truth. Hopefully, that answers your question. Please feel free to leave any questions you may still have. I will try my best to respond as soon as I can.

  3. charles39 says:

    I think writing comes with experience the more  you devote your self in writing articles could be books journals or poem or books the more you write the more the word flows will come with it and hence you start being creative in sense  that although  you are not writing abook  your choice of words matters most and where to  use specific words.

    1. Femia says:

      Hi, Charles, thanks so much for the time to read my post, ‘Creative Nonfiction Writing’ and for leaving invaluable comments.

      I completely agree with you that experience and more practice can mould someone into an expert writer. 
      It reminds me of taking driver lessons which gets better with more driving and getting familiar in using different roads on different terrains.

      Once again, many thanks for stopping by and sharing your experiences.

  4. Zayn Hiew says:

    Hey Femia,

    Despite l am having my own website and writing my own content,  still my biggest weakness is creative writing skill. 

    Luckily l landed on your page about Creative Nonfiction Writing, l have learned a lot on how to improve my writing skill with your 8 steps. l will take a look at The Writer’s Bureau Comprehensive Writing Course.

    Thank you for this very informative article.

    Best luck

    1. Femia says:

      Hi, Zayn, thank you for the time to read my post, ‘Creative Nonfiction Writing’ and for leaving great comments.

      I’m also pleased to hear that you found my post helpful and informative. 

      The Writers Bureau is an excellent training provider which offers a range of home-study courses including writing for the web and proofreading. Also, you are free to complete your modules at your own pace. Even if you decide to quit, you are welcome to resume whenever you are ready.

      Once again, many thanks for stopping by.

  5. DaiPH says:

    The view you mentioned that writing is not self-taught is new and meaningful to me. I know that my writing is really lacking in heat and I don’t know how to improve it, but your article has given me a lot of inspiration.I’m not a native speaker of English, so I think the first thing I need to do is to boost my vocabulary and imitate the way those writers write ,thank you.

    1. Femia says:

      Hello, many thanks for the time to read my post, ‘Creative Nonfiction Writing‘ and leaving awesome comments.

      I’m glad to hear that you found this post helpful and informative. I also speak English as a second language and what has helped me is reading other people’s work. I usually read the ones I find interesting.

      Also, writing gets better with more practice. All the best for the future!

  6. Olympia Francesca says:

    Thank you for the creative writing tips! This is just the information I have been looking for. I want to write more, anf write better. Writing is an ongoing battle for me. I admit I am not always inspired to write, even when I know I should.  I enjoyed reading your article very much. It was pleasant and flowed nicely. The font and color scheme is easy on the eyes. I wish you all the best.

    Oly

    1. Femia says:

      Hi, Oly, I can’t thank you enough for the time to read my post, ‘Creative Nonfiction Writing’ and leaving invaluable comments.

      I’m pleased to hear that you found this information helpful. Writing does not come easy for us all. It depends on a lot of factors. The best way is to keep writing and never give up.

      Also, reading other people’s work will inspire you to use your own style you are comfortable with.

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