{Flickr photo by psyberartist}
{Flickr photo by psyberartist}

You’re a writer. Fiction, nonfiction it’s all the same. Or is it?

To me, they feel like two different literary monsters. One’s like breathing. The other? It’s what I imagine skydiving would feel like. Super fun and exhilarating, but also vomit-inducing.

Which one you experience all depends on your comfort level.

For me, nonfiction is safe. There are research, experts, facts to back up my words. Fiction? Fiction is like free falling. I never know where my imagination will take me. It’s part thrilling, part walking on the edge scary.

When I’m feeling particularly insecure, my left-brain tries to pry out logic from the illogical. It grasps on in desperation for something concrete. The left-brain is my worst critic. It’s the one that gobbles up any creative idea, late-night inspiration and spits it out in disgust. “Crap,” it says. “It’s just crap.”

While it does an equal job of tearing apart anything nonfiction, there’s also editors and fellow writers who can critique it. It’s like math. You can filter out what’s right, from what’s dead wrong.


Fiction’s a lot murkier.

It’s why I have 3 stories mid-written. There’s always another way it can go. I can’t control my imagination, the way I can push around words here and there in a nonfiction article, for example. It’s a constant battle-this desire to create, compose and let be. My right brain’s continuing working, running amok while my left-brain’s trying to manage and understand it all. It’s like a funnel trying to filter through all the stuff that’s in there and translate it into something that makes sense.

Is it just me?

Do you have a hard time juggling fiction and nonfiction too? Let’s commiserate.

3 Replies to “The Difference Between Fiction and Nonfiction”

  1. My greatest challenge with fiction writing is doing it. I am the classic business writer who always puts my work behind client work, I am quite certain there is a heavy dose of fear that dictates that. It is something I am trying to overcome.

  2. Cathy you’re speaking my language. This is exactly the debacle I’m having lately. I’m keeping busy making a living, and at the cost of my fiction getting stuck mid-sentence permanently. It’s fear definitely rearing its ugly head. But I’m also afraid of not finishing it. Thanks for making me feel less alone in this!

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