It’s akin to asking ‘Which came first – the chicken or the egg?”
I came across two divergent viewpoints in the last month.
One creative writer said that writing non-fiction is very easy because it comes naturally to her. While writing fiction takes some amount of time to ideate the plot, conduct research, flesh out the characters, and boil it all down to a satisfying conclusion.
On the other end of the spectrum, a Corporate Communications professional dismissed fiction writing, belittling all such works as a mushy blob of goop.
I don’t agree with either. It’s like comparing apples to oranges honestly.
For The Cause Of Non-Fiction
Non-fiction writing is not easy. It looks deceptively easy, but it’s not. A lot of novice writers find it easy because they can read a lot of diverse views from books, off the internet, and other sources. They generally tend to get carried away by a singular linear point of view, weigh in their two cents, and think that they are done. But, therein lies the problem.
Most non-fiction writing is anything but original and balanced. Most of the non-fiction articles, be it opinion posts, reviews, and likes are like half-baked potatoes, spiced with fancy vocabulary, and excessive verbiage.
Ultimately, it ends up being lapped up by a minority group who adheres to that philosophy or puked out by the opposing group and the balanced centrists.
For The Love Of Fiction
Fiction writing is not easy. It’s not rocket science either.
But, you need a lot of patience and have the gumption to sit through several drafts of work to come up with something spectacular.
Fiction writing is not for the faint-hearted. More so, if you are planning to venture into writing full-fledged novels. You need the patience and commitment to pull through the entire project. If you have the access and money to hire a good editor, you’re in luck as you can save time there because editing is another back-breaking job.
The great thing about fiction is that you can be as bizarre as you desire. And you’ll still be worthy of respect. In fact, the more outrageous, the more respect you command. You can let your imagination loose and fly over unexplored territories. Unlike non-fiction writing where you need to make whole sense, or you’re rubbished as a pseudointellectual.
The Reality Check
If you think that it’s easier to venture into non-fiction writing, then it’s time to do a quick reality check. You need to be extremely cautious when you write non-fiction. It’s an over-saturated market that’s filled with expert thought-leaders, change-makers, achievers, and more. The non-fiction genre is where the big bucks are. So, you have to conduct proper research, and your thoughts have to be original, ground-breaking, and create value to the readers.
Fiction is a much smaller market with low growth or audience. Not everyone has the talent, business acumen, patience, and access to/money for a high-quality publishing house to come up with spectacular fictional work.
Mediocrity is hailed and floods both the markets in the current times.
The Final Say
Both non-fiction and fiction writing have their worthy merits and challenges. And, neither of the two categories can be dismissed as being ‘too easy’ or some mushy gibberish by either camps.
For me, the challenging part is to switch my state of mind, mood, and style to be true to a particular category, and its genre.
But you know what I find even more challenging than the two of late?
But let’s keep that for another day — another article.
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I’ve never tried my hand at nonfiction before, but I imagine it would be very difficult since one would have to stay within the constraints of reality.😀
Like I said at the start, it’s as tricky as asking which came out first – the chicken or the egg. Both have very different structure and style, and in my eyes, they hold equal value. Some are good at non-fiction, others at fiction. Few can adapt seamlessly to both the genres. In fiction, you can stretch your imagination and boundaries. In non-fiction, you need to be very conscientious, and mindful of the message that you’re sending out. And you have to create value to the reader.
Not that I haven’t attempted non fiction but I’m a fiction person. Maybe because it helps me to escape while allowing me to let out the “mushy gibberish”.
Likewise, Sonia. Fiction is my first love. It’s more fun, in my opinion. But having done both, I know both have their own challenges. I don’t think it’s fair to dismiss either category or group of writers.
For some reason, I have never faced difficulty while writing non-fiction. It has always been fiction I have problems with. Maybe the issue is subjective. For example right at the moment when I am writing this comment I am in a total creative rut. For the past three months I have been trying to write flash fiction and short stories. There was a time when I used to write 100 word, 200 word pieces and short stories quite easily. And those pieces of writing were appreciated a lot. But for the past 3 months, quite often I had to give up when I tried to write fiction. Even if I managed to come up with a fictional piece, the quality of the writing has been very mediocre. This state of affairs never occurs with non-fiction, at least in my case.
Hi Jai! I hear you and can relate so much. While writing fiction is a lot of fun, it’s also an arduous task to be inventive, creative, and come up with something spectacular. It’s an art and it needs a lot of patience to sit through several drafts.
Well said, Tina. Non fiction seems easier, but the originality is the key. I write non fiction more, and I know it very well. I always try to write my own emotion, own thought. And yes, I find Poetry the toughest one.
Hi Swarnali! Non-fiction looks deceptively easier, but it’s not. I think one needs to be mature, perceptive, and balanced in outlook to write good non-fiction. In fiction, anything goes. You can let your imagination fly in any direction you want, and it still works. You can take such liberties in fiction. Poetry needs a certain finesse ….I hear you. I find Poetry exciting as well.
Yes though. Poetry feeds the soul, don’t? You know Tina while writing non fiction pieces, I find myself there. That’s why I prefer to write non fiction. I mean, I can put my soul here. And I think it’s the most important thing. Whatever you like you just write, and make sure it’s coming from the heart and you are keeping your soul here. 🙂
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