When we talk about creative writing, fiction and poetry often take the spotlight, but there are many other types of creative writing that we can explore.
Most writers develop a preference for one form (and genre) above all others. This can be a good thing, because you can specialize in your form and genre and become quite proficient. However, occasionally working with other types of writing is beneficial. It prevents your work from becoming stale and overladen with form- or genre-specific clichés, and it’s a good way to acquire a variety of techniques that are uncommon in your preferred form and genre but that can be used to enhance it.
Let’s look at some different types of creative writing. As you read through the list, note the types of writing you’ve experimented with and the types you’d like to try.
Types of Creative Writing
Free writing: Open a notebook or an electronic document and just start writing. Allow strange words and images to find their way to the page. Anything goes! Also called stream-of-consciousness writing, free writing is the pinnacle of creative writing.
Journals: A journal is any written log. You could keep a gratitude journal, a memory journal, a dream journal, or a goals journal. Many writers keep idea journals or all-purpose omni-journals that can be used for everything from daily free writes to brainstorming and project planning.
Diaries: A diary is a type of journal in which you write about your daily life. Some diaries are written in letter format (“Dear Diary…”). If you ever want to write a memoir, then it’s a good idea to start keeping a diary.
Letters: Because the ability to communicate effectively is increasingly valuable, letter writing is a useful skill. There is a long tradition of publishing letters, so take extra care with those emails you’re shooting off to friends, family, and business associates. Hot tip: one way to get published if you don’t have a lot of clips and credits is to write letters to the editor of a news publication.
Memoir: A genre of creative nonfiction, memoirs are books that contain personal accounts (or stories) that focus on specific experiences. For example, one might write a travel memoir.
Essays. Essays are often associated with academic writing, but there are many types of essays, including personal essays, descriptive essays, and persuasive essays, all of which can be quite creative (and not especially academic).
Journalism: Some forms of journalism are more creative than others. Traditionally, journalism was objective reporting on facts, people, and events. Today, journalists often infuse their writing with opinion and storytelling to make their pieces more compelling or convincing.
Poetry: Poetry is a popular but under-appreciated type of writing, and it’s easily the most artistic form of writing. You can write form poetry, free-form poetry, and prose poetry.
Song Lyrics: Song lyrics combine the craft of writing with the artistry of music. Composing lyrics is similar to writing poetry, and this is an ideal type of writing for anyone who can play a musical instrument.
Scripts: Hit the screen or the stage by writing scripts for film, television, theater, or video games. Beware: scripts are a director’s medium, not a writer’s medium, but they have the potential to reach a non-reading audience.
Storytelling: Storytelling is the most popular form of creative writing and is found in the realms of both fiction and nonfiction writing. Popular forms of fiction include flash fiction, short stories, novellas, and full-length novels; and there are tons of genres to choose from. True stories, which are usually firsthand or secondhand accounts of real people and events, can be found in essays, diaries, memoirs, speeches, and more. Storytelling is a tremendously valuable skill, as it can be found in all other forms of writing, from poetry to speech writing.
Speeches: Whether persuasive, inspirational, or informative, speech writing can lead to interesting career opportunities in almost any field or industry. Also, speech-writing skills will come in handy if you’re ever asked to write and deliver a speech at an important event, such as a graduation, wedding, or award ceremony.
Vignettes: A vignette is defined as “a brief evocative description, account, or episode.” Vignettes can be poems, stories, descriptions, personal accounts…anything goes really. The key is that a vignette is extremely short — just a quick snippet.
Honorable Mention: Blogs. A blog is not a type of writing; it’s a publishing platform — a piece of technology that displays web-based content on an electronic device. A blog can be used to publish any type of writing. Most blogs feature articles and essays, but you can also find blogs that contain diaries or journals, poetry, fiction, journalism, and more.
Which of these types of creative writing have you tried? Are there any forms of writing on this list that you’d like to experiment with? Can you think of any other types of creative writing to add to this list? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment, and keep writing.