When Fact Meets Fiction: Is Creative Writing Really All That Different from Writing for a Corporate Publication?

Article excerpt

Almost every communicator I have known has a hidden yearning to write a book--to put pen to paper creatively rather than journalistically. Some want to record an event they reported on, while others dream of following in the footsteps of such giants as Hemingway, Joyce and Dickens, all of whom were journalists too.

When it comes down to it, is creative writing really all that different from writing for the company magazine or daily news blog? And when a communication professional takes the leap into writing fiction, as I have, can they use the knowledge and experience they've learned about certain industries to inform their work?

Whether you are writing for a company publication or controlling the content of its social media, as a communicator you are uniquely exposed to the different aspects of the business you work for. You are one of the few people who has access to the shop floor, visits the branches, talks to the workers, interacts with the trade unions, has lunch with the secretaries and has the occasional discussion with the CEO. Business communicators remain very important people in the company, having insight into the many facets of corporate life that few others are privileged to share. As communicators we all have one thing in common: We write or talk about our company, and we get to know it from the bottom to the top.

Of course, we are also employees, and that is true whether we are paid as consultants or are on the regular payroll we are there to produce what the bosses want. But we are also storing up an amazing amount of information about the company: who pulls the strings, which workers are running the show, when the management will give in, etc. And all of this is--yes, you guessed it--unbelievable material for that book you plan to write one day.

As a communication professional in the mining business, I built close relationships with the people who operated coal, manganese and copper mines and the deep rock gold and platinum mines of South Africa. …