3 tips for balancing creative and journalistic writing

Posted by Cecily Miniaci

In my years at Drake, I have encountered all types of writing styles. From formal theory essays, one act plays, news stories, poems, to news releases, I’ve done it all. At times it became difficult to keep the two styles separate. Especially when the journalism and writing departments don’t always agree on the use of the oxford comma. Thankfully, I have learned how to balance both styles to develop my overall writing skills.

Cecily Miniaci’s photo

 The following 3 tips are for those of you who are attempting to juggle these spinning plates as well.  

 Find your voice(s)

Don’t write a cold, lifeless manuscript for a creative essay, and no cliché, fluffy press releases. Find your voice for both, and use them accordingly. Once you distinguish your separate voices, feel free to play around with them. They’ll become your new best friends!

Take risks

Even in journalism writing, it is important to take risks. If you always write the same way for a feature story, your writing will never grow. With creative, try a new perspective or tone. How about a story told from the point of view of a couch? Sure! It’s like trying a new dish, you’ll never know unless you try it.

Read everything

Reading different types of writing will make you appreciate them and want to try out that new style. On my desk I currently have a public relations publication, Moby Dick, a poetry anthology, and my AP stylebook. Reading different types of writing is like pumping iron for my brain. Who wants a wimpy brain or wimpy writing? No one.

Since I recommended consuming different types of writing, I’ll give you all some links to some unique writing styles I have encountered. Enjoy!

After reading/viewing these, what are your immediate thoughts? Does this seem like a writing style you would try out? Is it important to you to write and read different styles?

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5 responses to “3 tips for balancing creative and journalistic writing

  1. Being both an English and Journalism major, I have these same problems. It is really difficult to weed out some of my voice and write like a scholar for English essays, then turn around and write a fun, creative story about hairstyles or home decorating the same day. Your tips are helpful and I especially agree with suggestions number two, taking risks. Writing in an individualized style can make you stand out as a writer both in the English world and the Journalism world. Mixing all kinds of writing styles together can create some really interesting pieces like the ones you provided. I especially enjoyed the interactive aspect of the Sydney’s Siberia one. Thanks for those links!

  2. Jennifer Heartley

    I agree that you have to find your separate voices, but sometimes you can use them for both. Last year I was writing an adaptation of a children’s novel into a news article.

    Something else that happens to you often, though, is that you get called out for it when you’re not even using it.

    I had the same English teacher from the class where I was writing that assignment for another class that was completely fiction writing. So naturally, she knew I was a journalism major as well. When she wanted to get a point across, she used it against me. She told me that a portion of my story was too factual and emotionless. She said it was my journalistic side working against me.

    I had meant for that part of the story to be factual and emotionless. I was using it for effect. But when the teacher throws your other major at you and says it’s a fault, what can you do?

  3. Leah, I am glad you enjoy the works I provided. They are definitely interesting and make me want to be more creative. I also agree with what you said about your style making you stand out. I think that my dual degrees will make me stand out, and hopefully an interest for future employers.

    Jennifer, I know exactly what you are talking about. I have had some of the same situations happen to me before. It really is frustrating, and it hurts your overall self-esteem. But sometimes it takes those professors who don’t understand to really make our writing grow. I guess the only advice I have is to understand that you aren’t writing for them, your writing for the audience/readers.

  4. I think it never hurts to be bi-lingual as a writer. Being able to transcend style becomes the mark of a superior writer. Your tips work for all types of writing. Writers should celebrate who they are and make the world interesting by their opinions and art.

    Writing is a process of knowing yourself and knowing your audience. Once you can do those things, you can theoretically write for anything. Of course, many things work in theory and fall apart in practice.

  5. Agree completely, Cecily. And if any of you guys are up for some really unique writing, check these two out. Some of my all time faves. Maybe over Thanksgiving break, though. They’re long for sure.

    “The things that carried him”: It’s written backward chronologically. Insane reporting. http://www.esquire.com/print-this/things-that-carried-him?page=all

    “Eating Jack Hooker’s Cow”: The tone in the writing matches the dialect of the two different groups of people: Laotian immigrants and Kansans, both trying to live the American Dream. Favorite ever.

    http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:JQhgO6hR2UcJ:www.davidabrahamson.com/WWW/IALJS/Paterniti_EatingJackHooker%27sCow_Esquire_Nov1997.doc+Michael+Paterniti+%22eating+jack+hooker%27s+cow%22&cd=4&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

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