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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Differences Between a CREATIVE WRITER and a CRITIC

In November 2010 when I 'poped' a friend of mine, Dami  Ajayi, up on facebook, I thought it was going to be the normal chatter that one indulges in on the social media while other important things pile up for attention. As it turned out, the conversation we had became a foray into a topic that would never stop leaving controversy in its trail whenever it is dragged into any discourse. Within the hours that my subsisting Internet connection could allow and many eye-blinks at the glare that beamed from our various computers' screens at different ends of the cyberspace, we gave our opinions on what could differentiate a Writer from a Critic. To shed more light on the topic, I have also enlisted the pen of a friend, whose write-up shows nothing but the assiduousness that could only come from the effort one makes after one sleeves had been rolled up to the elbow before picking up the pen to write. Oyebanji Ayodele's versed article on the topic comes up after the chat history.



The Chat History


Omotayo: how are you doing?

Dami Ajayi: i am fine

nice work with ur reviews

Omotayo: you read them?

thank you.

Dami Ajayi: yeah, i did read them

but is that what u really like, reviews?

Omotayo: what do you mean?

I don't understand your question, could you simplify it more?

Dami Ajayi: are u a critic or a creative writer? or both?

Omotayo: both.

Dami Ajayi: now, that is dicy

cuz they are opposite roles that are not necessarily equal

Omotayo: It quite depends on the perspective you are taking them from.

Dami Ajayi: no perspectives man

am laying it down like it is

Omotayo: well, I'm open to learning, tell me more about the two as they are.

Dami Ajayi: i will always take a creative writer over the critic

its like balance and checks

balance is d creative writer, who churns out literature

critics seek patterns in this works by comparison and aligning it with deir personal aesthetics and pass a verdict

Omotayo: so you are saying a critic could be personal and imbalanced in his judgement of a work?

Dami Ajayi: of cuz d crtic can be personal, but imbalanced? u wud have to dilate that

Omotayo: could this not also be aligned with writers too as their pieces could be fed from their experiences which could at times be shallow and not rational enough?

Dami Ajayi: d writer seeks to create or in this context recreate

d crtic seeks to assess the created works. sort of like an exam

Omotayo: creation can be deceiving when the origin is not well defined too.

Dami Ajayi: creation cant be defined

i think

creation is an act rather than an act

it is a subliminal process that spurts from the act of living

Omotayo: what if the view the origin is defined from is blurred by faulty reasonings?

Dami Ajayi: there are a lot of faulty reasonings that have given birth to real works of art

faulty reasoning is not a setback; it's not of importance at all, i think

Omotayo: then where is the beauty in the works that are riddled with hoaxes that only set out to confuse?

Dami Ajayi: pls be exact

are u refering to a piece of work

Omotayo: call me to correction if I have deviated... where was that?

Dami Ajayi: ur last statement connotes that u have a piece of work that u are referencing

Omotayo: I'm sorry for the grammar... I really sidetracked there.

Dami Ajayi: ok

Omotayo: I have really enjoyed the lessons my man.

Dami Ajayi: lessons?

no man

there are no absolutes in literature

i cud be telling lies, for all i care

Omotayo: lessons are eye-openers to some resources that could still be explored - they are not necessarily the absolutes as you said.

They nudge one to keep searching to build more flowery arguments around things that might not actually exist in the real sense.

Dami Ajayi: ok sir

it was nice engaging u

Omotayo: u are welcomed. I've been indeed engaged.

thank you.

Dami Ajayi: tk u too.




Oyebanji Ayodele's Article on the topic

When a subject like this comes into view or is meant to be discussed, a sight of frowned faces, crossed legs and grins at inexplicable intervals among the discussants cannot be prevented. This is because a perfect treatment of the subject takes what philosopher will refer to as "critical thinking". It is because as inseparable as a creative writer and critic are, they are both germane to the art of writing.

Creative writing requires the ideas of an individual; his proficiency in the use of language and how distinctly he achieves that; his painstaking discipline to labour by his desk putting and ideas together and more than not cross-checking or distilling his output with his aesthetic sense. Thus, a creative writer has the following trappings:

·         He is more concerned with how his ideas are germane to his environment.

·         He is interested in charging language with the vigour of his experience. Therefore, he rhapsodizes.

·         He is prone to every detail he encounters and consigns them a place in his art.

·         He is interested in getting public recognition and making money.

Someone said, "Writing is a witty way for recognition and money". Writer of all genres of Literature fall under this category. Writers of essays and articles are not left out.

A critic on the other hand is a person who forms or gives judgments about works of art, especially Literature. A critique can be as positive as it can be negative sometimes. Something is worthy of note about a creative writer and a critic is that between them exists a sort of symbiotic relationship. Thus, a critic is as dormant as an animal on hibernation until a literary work is released.

Moreover, one other thing one must not ignore is that a creative writer can be critical in the presentation of his work. Nathaniel Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown and The Scarlet Letter, Odia Ofeimun's Go Tell The Generals, Athol Fugard's  Sizwe Bansi is Dead and the like are examples of this. Therefore, taking a closer look at the two kinds of writing, it becomes glaring that they have their similarities as well as discrepancies. The following are the criteria with which one can examine the differences between the two:


A very important way of differentiating between a creative writer and a criric is the motive for which they do what they do. The primary aim for writing to a creative writer is quenching the thirst to live up to the epithet "creative". The secondary aim can be seen from two perspectives. First is the recognition and the other, making money. These are intertwined – a creative writer's prowess ascertains his level of recognition and probably, the amount of money he makes.

However, the case is different when one examines a critic. All a critic is poised for is to appreciate or find faults in the works of writers. A critic cogitates on the subject matter, the thematic preoccupation and the other devices in the creative work.


The flow of ideas in the mind of a writer based on his experiences or day-to-day encounter in his environment and the like are some of the things that trigger picking a pen for scribble. The paper then assumes life as it inhales everything that diffuses out the writer's mind as well as his wealth of creative experiences.

In contrast to a creative writer's source of inspiration, a critic is inspired by what the creative writer produces {output}. Writing is not scientific and thus, a critic sees either praiseworthy side or otherwise of the book.



The massive or otherwise acceptability of the works of creative writer and a critic is another point that emphasizes the differences between them.

Every literary age produces a sizeable population of admirers of creative work irrespective of age, sex or area of specialization. These admirers go extra mile to satisfy this urge. For instance, an age like ours has taken creative writing to another level – the internet which enhances a wider acceptability of creative works.

The case is not the same with a critic. Literary works like critiques can never be appreciated efficaciously without attaining a particular level in Literature. As a result, the rate of acceptability of critiques is in no way equal to that of the works of creative writers as most issues treated in critiques go beyond the cognizance of laymen. A creative writer, most times bridges the furrow between laymen and specialists in the field.

If getting a Philistine to appreciate a work of art is close to impossibility, getting a laymen who finds pleasure in reading a critique compared to a short story is closer.


Functions in Inter-relatedness:

Being a creative writer and a critic are two threads in the same web. Considering the ebb and flow of their activities asserts that a critic despite his creativity depends solely on the creative writer to achieve his aim

To the creative writer, a critic is a builder. The critic tends to build the confidence, credibility and creativity of the creative writer by means of "constructive criticism". The life span of a creative work depends on nothing else but its ability to withstand criticism. Anglo-Saxon writings {such as "Beowulf"}, Shakespearean works and other works that have failed to bow out of the stage of this literary age possess this ability.

A summation in the case of a subject like this seems impossible even if it is taken to a place farther that Timbuktu. "Literature is life", most people will say. Critics and creative writers make this possible.


·         Dami Ajayi of Saraba Magazine featured in the chat.

·         Oyebanji Ayodele, a poet, contributed the article


  1. Great article by Oyebanji.

    as to the chat, I guess you're both entitled to your opinions.

    But Dami should understand that none is better than the other, and they are not mutually exclusive. For example, Helon Habila is a creative writer, and also reviews and critics other books, same with Ahmed Maiwada, and Myself. Most judges of writing contests are authors and writers themselves. Only a true creative writer can accurately critique a creative work because they know where the originator of the work is coming from.

  2. Lovely article, great post. I will say i have learnt a few things....didnt know they were so different tho.

    visit my blog

  3. by the way,how do u put up individual sites on ur page ant the top, like the Myne whiteman one? thanks

  4. @Myne.It's possibly true a creative writer critiques a work because he knows where the originator of the work is coming from, but a thin line still however separates the two. A critic could be creatively analytical in his verdict on a book based on the versed knowledge he possesses about how better the writer should have tailored his/her work. A critic might not always be a creative writer, it takes an inspiration to write a story skillfully, it requires another when writing what your taste is on a work of art.

    Thanks for the comment, Myne. It is enlightening.

  5. @Sisi Yemmie ™. I'm happy you know that there are differences between the two now. Thanks for checking on my blog. I'm subscribing by e-mail to yours straight away. Thanks for reading.

    As for the question; I was able to set individual sites on the top of the blog through a Google gadget called 'Newspapers; amps and Books'. Browse through the gadgets on blogger and check it out. The gadget allows you to have favourite sites on your blog. I hope that helps...

  6. thanks Oh Mr Strong Self, ill check it out right away! i really like it on your blog

  7. i checked oh...i couldnt find it :(((

  8. @Sisi Yemmie ™. I'm sorry, it must have been that Blogger has removed the gadget. You know, sometimes they experiment with a gadget and discard later... That should be the issue. I will go search for it and see if it has really been deleted.

  9. Hello , i would thank you for this great article ! and that great comparison ! i'm gonna be asked about the diferrences between creative writers and critics in the 1st exam of the literary criticism class ! and i think that this article gonna help me alot !!!

    With respect
    Ghayda Yousef

  10. @Ghaida Yousef. I am happy the article was a source of help. You are always welcome on the blog. I hope you visit the blog soon. And good luck in your exam.


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