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Let's say I divide all writing activities in two classes:

  1. Artistic writing
  2. Non-artistic writing

Artistic writing includes fiction and non-fiction. Its purpose is either to entertain the reader (fiction) or tell them something they don't know (non-fiction).

Non-artistic writing includes writing e-mails, newsletters, blog posts, white papers, landing pages, social media content etc. The purpose of non-artistic writing is to sell something to the reader, either now or later, either to them personally or to someone they influence.

I consider it non-artistic because it is order of magnitudes easier to write a good, say, white paper than a good fiction or non-fiction book (there is much more good copywriters than there are good fiction and non-fiction writers).

What is a better (shorter) word than "artistic writing" that can be used for both fiction and non-fiction?

Possible answer: Journalism and fiction writing

But it's even longer than the term I want to get rid of.

Example of using the sought expression in a sentence:

Before F. Scott Fitzgerald, Joseph Heller, and Steven Pressfield became masters of <blank> they used to work as copywriters.

<Blank> -- better word for "artistic writing".

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  • 4
    The common term is creative writing. And I think you undervalue and underestimate the other kind.
    – Dan Bron
    Dec 14 '19 at 16:18
  • @DanBron It sounds like OP is including journalism in their 'artistic writing' category, which is usually not in scope for 'creative writing', as I understand it. Dec 14 '19 at 19:03
  • I realize you wanted to be more specific, but simply saying 'masters of writing' would seem to work well in that sentence. I don't think any reader will suspect that you mean they are good at drafting social media copy. The word 'wordcraft' might also apply. Dec 14 '19 at 19:06
  • 2
    Literary writing covers some journalism as well as fiction and poetry.
    – Xanne
    Dec 15 '19 at 7:49
  • "There is much more good copywriters..."?
    – KannE
    Dec 15 '19 at 21:36
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According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of literature includes all of these senses:

1 a (1) : writings in prose or verse
especially : writings having excellence of form or expression and expressing ideas of permanent or universal interest
// literature stands related to man as science stands to nature
— J. H. Newman
1 a (2) : an example of such writings
// what came out, though rarely literature, was always a roaring good story
People
1 b : the body of writings on a particular subject
// scientific literature
1 c : the body of written works produced in a particular language, country, or age
// French literature
// Renaissance literature
1 d : printed matter (such as leaflets or circulars)
// campaign literature
2 : the production of literary work especially as an occupation
// Literature is his profession.

The fact that the definition includes "printed matter (such as leaflets or circulars)," means that it can also cover "e-mails, newsletters, blog posts, white papers, landing pages, social media content etc."

As such:

Before F. Scott Fitzgerald, Joseph Heller, and Steven Pressfield became masters of literature they used to work as copywriters.

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