I have written a lot in my life. Like, a metric ton. But 98% of that writing has been for philosophy and completed while I was working towards my bachelors degree. Comparing philosophical writing to creative writing is like comparing apples to oranges. They’re similar in that they’re both writing (or fruit) but different in that they are different styles of writing (or types of fruit). And I have to admit, maybe it’s because I’m used to philosophical writing or maybe I’m just not that kind of creative, but creative writing is WAY harder than philosophical writing. Let me give you an example of what it was like to write a philosophy paper.
Obvious first step- what are we writing about, what is our topic? This is usually the easiest step, particularly in school when your professor is already telling you what your topic options are. Once we have picked a topic, then we need to decide how we are going to present the issue, or argument, as we philosophers refer to it. Since there are so many philosophical branches and methods of which one can argue a point of view, determining your approach is more difficult than choosing a topic, but still not as difficult as creative writing. Finally, we pull it all together and lay out the argument, most commonly expressing our position, and then providing an opposing view which we then attempt to unravel and (hopefully) crush into the ground with our superior reasoning and arguments.
It may sound complicated, but the biggest part of philosophy is kind of already done for us. Philosophy has been around forever and most of us “do philosophy” in our every day conversations without even realizing it. But having the ability and the innate skill to create a story out of nothing, to build a world with characters that you have breathed life into and to bring their tale into reality through words alone – THAT is truly difficult. And definitely not something I can do.
Writing is hard, but it is hard in different ways for different people. For me, formulating an argument and laying it down in such a way that my (real or potential) opponents will be slain by my wordly prowess is something that comes naturally. For others, creating that magical world that is unlike anything we have seen before, or even taking a known world and molding it into something different and unique, is what comes easily to them. Fortunately, there are so many amazing creative writers out there that I get to sit back and enjoy the fruits of their labor, while not having to worry my little noggin over how they could have created such a world, simply by imagining it. Either way we cut this cake, though, writing is hard, in one way or another.