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Combining journalism with creative writing to simply be 'a writer'

Journalism and creative writing don't have to be separate. Journalists can write creatively, often seen in the form of feature writing (Northern Review photo/Kasy Long).

Journalism and creative writing don't have to be separate. Journalists can write creatively, often seen in the form of feature writing (Northern Review photo/Kasy Long).

April was National Poetry Month. As a poet, I enjoy exploring the creative side of my brain. I’ve published various works in online and print journals across the nation. Sitting down and writing a brief, condense little poem transports me into my “happy place.” Poetry is a nice, much-needed break from my studies but also from another area of writing—journalism.

I’m not saying I hate journalism; that’s not even close to what I’m saying. If I hated journalism, I would have never allowed myself to become Editor-in-Chief of the Northern Review. I would have quit during my freshman year. I define myself as a journalist in most areas, but I’m a creative writer in others. Maybe I’m just simply...a writer.

As I have learned more about journalism and creative writing from various courses here at Ohio Northern University, I find myself repeatedly combining the two forms together: creative writing + journalism = creative journalism.

There’s one division of journalism I’ve grown to love over the years, and that’s feature writing. This is where I can write someone’s story—effectively describe all of the factual information for an audience but deliver the material in an engaging, story-telling manner. This is where I combine my two loves together; I’m a creative journalist when it doesn’t even feel like journalism anymore. It’s just simply...a story.

I’m a passionate individual who believes everyone has a story. There’s always a story; my job as the writer is to successfully describe it for the general public. I often begin these feature articles with a story—a “hook” to draw readers into the article. If you don't grab the readers' attention within the lead of the story, then you’ve failed as the writer. They’ll stop caring and move on to another article.

I move from the story to the information I must provide for my audience. Within this information, I include some creative phrases or interesting facts about the individual I’m featuring to keep my reader’s attention. I’m both telling a story and delivering the important facts. In journalism lingo, I’m answering the “so what” question.

Writing feature stories is what I love most about being a journalist. It’s the venue where I can combine my two loves together. In fact, my first “big girl” job after graduation is for a magazine that specializes in writing feature stories about powerful women—a magazine by women writers for women readers. I will go to work every day and simply write and edit stories. I’ll be working for a journalism organization, but I’ll also be using my creative mind to tell someone’s story. I couldn’t have chosen a more perfect first job for me.

So yes, you can be a journalist and still write creatively. There’s an existing stereotype that all journalists are “boring” or don’t know how to write a creative story. I guess I prove those individuals wrong. I’m a journalist. I’m a poet. I’m a feature writer.

I’m a writer.