Twenty years ago I moved into copywriting and public relations after a decade as a reporter to escape the negativity and misery associated with hard news. Covering murder, mayhem and rising council taxes is very bad for the soul.
What made you want to be a copywriter?
I enjoy nuance, tone and all the magical qualities of words. I failed my O Level Maths exam miserably so accountancy was never an option.
What types of copywriting do you do, and for what clients?
I have written for clients in the nuclear industry, higher education, local authorities, wholesale and retail businesses. My work has included pamphlets, brochures, adverts, websites and packaging copy.
What do you enjoy most?
Hmm, well I hate technical stuff and raw copy stuffed with jargon that is so alienating. I have lost work – willingly I must say – because the odd client has taken exception to my plain English interpretation of their original prose/remit. I am a huge fan of the Plain English Campaign and I relish the simple sentence.
What sort of working setup do you have?
I work from a dedicated office at home and insist that either Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here or Bach’s Orchestral Suites are playing in the background.
What one book should copywriters read, and why? (Not necessarily about copywriting.)
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell for imagining Newspeak and all its associated anti-human horrors. By the way, Newspeak is well established in this country. It’s everywhere!
How have things changed in the time you’ve been a copywriter? What’s better, and what’s worse?
I’ve noticed a creeping arrogance amongst a growing minority of clients that they know best, even when their original emails contain spelling howlers.
What are you most proud of in your copywriting career?
I enjoy writing for Grasmere Gingerbread® because they give me free biscuits.
If you could change one thing about your working life as a copywriter, what would it be?
Get a better office chair earlier in my career. My back kills me some days!
What advice would you give other copywriters?
Read everything and anything and then ignore it and go your own way. Trust your instincts.