What Fiction Writing Has Taught Me About Creating Content

I have been writing obsessively ever since I learned how. When I was in first grade, I used to write plays and have the neighborhood kids perform them with me on the driveway. I have written poetry, songs, plays, screenplays, and of course, fiction.

I have a BA in English and an MFA in Creative Writing, and I have gone to countless workshops and participated in playwriting festivals and apprenticeships. I’ve spent the majority of my adult life studying creative writing in some capacity.

It was natural for me to start freelance writing web content and blog posts for various clients, and it was natural for me to transition from that into working as a digital content strategist for WT Digital Agency.

As I’ve been creating content, I have realized how much I use the things I have learned studying creative writing every day in my job.

1. Show, don’t tell.

This is one of the first things you learn in any creative writing class. When you’re writing fiction, it’s not effective to tell the reader that one of the characters is kind of mean. It’s much more effective to show him doing mean things.

You don’t want to tell potential clients and customers how great your products and services are. You want to show them. Give them a testimonial where a previous customer or client talks about how the product or service affected their lives.

Or if you’re creating a piece of content that isn’t directly promotional, you still want to show the reader whatever you’re talking about. Use screenshots and case studies to prove your points.

2. Tell brand stories through the lens of The Hero’s Journey. 

Anyone who has studied storytelling is familiar with Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey. It’s basically a story structure where a hero goes on a journey or quest and comes home a changed person. It applies in everything from The Wizard of Oz to Harry Potter to Star Wars. 

This is a common story structure to study in creative writing, but it’s also a good story structure to tell your brand story in. But your brand isn’t the hero; the customer is. You have to think about what the customer wants, how your brand is going to “take them on a journey,” and how their lives will be different after they have tried your products or services.

3. Read more than you write.

If you’re writing science fiction novels, read a lot of science fiction novels. If you write poetry, read a lot of poetry. If you’re writing a piece of content about lawn care, for example, read other websites and blog posts about lawn care.

You want to do research, but you also just want to keep up with the latest blogs in your niche. This is a great way to stay up to date on what’s going on in your field.

4. Write about what you’re passionate about. 

If you love vampires, write a vampire story. If you love contemporary romance, write a contemporary romance. Write whatever you love, and it will come across in your writing.

The same thing goes for content. I’m actually doing that right now! While I am quite passionate about marketing, I love creative writing more than anything. So I found a way to write about marketing through the lens of creative writing.

You can do that too. Hopefully, you’re passionate about whatever you’re creating content about. If not, find a way to connect it to something you are passionate about.

5. The best writing happens in revision.

Whether you’re writing a novel or a blog post, the first draft is never going to be great. But it gives you somewhere to start revisions from, and the best writing happens while you are revising.

Writing is like carving out a sculpture. The first draft is just the material you have to sculpt with. When you are revising, you chip away at the material enough for the work of art to take shape.

6. Don’t be afraid to break the rules.

While it’s important to know the “rules” of creative writing, it’s also important to break them every now and then. Without rule breakers, we’d never have E.E. Cummings or abstract art.

The same goes for content marketing. You should know all the rules, but don’t be afraid to think outside of the box and break them from time to time.

If you need help with your own content marketing, please contact us. We can get your business on the right track