Caitlin Milne

PRO

17 December 2015

Caitlin Milne

Caitlin MilneWhy did you choose a career in copywriting and how did you get into it?

I’m not sure I did, I think it chose me. I’m a big reader and always thought I would work in publishing. But my first real job was for a charity and I loved it.

I ended up working in communications for various third sector organisations where I found myself having to write and edit a lot.

I only started to think of myself as a copywriter when I left my permanent job and went freelance and people kept asking me to write things. Now I run Kindlemix and I write every day.

What work are you most proud of?

I love writing case studies and giving people a chance to tell their stories, especially if it’s in support of a cause I feel strongly about. There’s a particular annual report I wrote where I feel proud that my writing gave the charity’s service users a voice and let them tell the organisation’s story.

What piece of copy do you really wish you’d written?

I read things every day that I wish I’d written. Family legend has it that my grandfather (when working as the Observer’s first ever TV critic) coined the term ‘gogglebox’. I wish I’d come up with that one.

What do you do if you hit a bit of writer’s block?

Sometimes abandoning the keyboard and going back to good old pen on paper releases something in your brain. If I’m really stuck I go and get some fresh air and do something else for a while.

I find with writing there’s often a period of time when it’s necessary to focus on something completely different so that your brain can process information behind the scenes. Allow time for that to happen and when you come to write it will often come out ready-formed (or somewhere near). You’ve been working on it without realising it.

What are your favourite and least favourite writing-related tasks?

I quite enjoy the editing process, honing it all down at the end. Often the hardest bit is getting started on a blank page.

Any copywriting pet hates?

Oh the usual. Jargon, waffle, etc. I always seem to be deleting people’s exclamation marks.

What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?

Being asked, ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’ when I was dithering about whether to go freelance.

What advice would you give to people starting out on a copywriting career?

First, learning how to edit other people’s work is a really good tool for making your own writing better.

Second, don’t be too precious. It’s rare that you get to write something that doesn’t get tweaked by someone else at some point.

At the same time, if you think you can see how something could be done differently, suggest it. Often people are just doing something a certain way because that’s the way they’ve always done it.