Creativity: TW vs fiction writing skills

Subject: Creativity: TW vs fiction writing skills
From: Jane Bergen <janeb -at- AIRMAIL -dot- NET>
Date: Sat, 29 Mar 1997 20:35:52 +600

On 29 Mar 97 at 11:58, Chris Hargens wrote:

> Is it common for technical
> writers to write "creative" work--fiction, poetry, personal essays,
> and so on? Can the practice of technical writing--here I mean
> something like eight hours a day five days a week--inhibit
> "creative" writing? More specifically, does the technical writer who
> aspires to write fiction, let's say, find herself at the end of an
> eight hour day just too enmeshed in the protocols of techical
> writing to think fiction? Or just too (verbally) exhausted?

If I may jump in here... if someone is really a fiction writer, he or
she is seldom too tired to write. It's like being too tired to
breathe. As for the effect of technical writing on fiction writing,
one of my favorite TW professors said she's been told that her
fiction and essay writing improved greatly after studying technical
writing. I find that to be true in my own experience as well.

Maybe technical writers learn to write more economically and that
often means more powerful writing. In TW we stress doing away with
extraneous words, such as substituting "studied" for "conducted a
study" and being very careful to chain sentence topics (A-B, B-C,
etc). One of my pet peeves involves the use of the verb "to be" --
most of the time the writing is more authoritative and has more
impact if we eliminate that verb. That's also true in fiction
writing. (Check out the "e-prime movement"..I think that's the
name... for details) O f course, I still have to fight the urge to
use bullets! ;-)

Thanks for letting me vent..

Jane Bergen
"my opinions are my own..."
Jane Bergen, Technical Writer
janeb -at- airmail -dot- net
AnswerSoft, Inc. Dallas, TX

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