In the spotlight today is Peter Rylands – an in-house technical copywriter and a member of the PCN committee.
Why did you choose a career in copywriting and how did you get into it?
It took me some time to discover what copywriting really was. As an English student I wasn’t made aware of the occupation (as noted in my first piece for the PCN: Writing for work – why don’t students know that copywriting is a viable career?). I chose copywriting because it involved what I enjoyed doing: reading new things, editing and writing.
I got into it through a woman who worked at the Mouthy Poets when I interned with them. She had a friend working in copywriting and put me in touch, she went out on a limb without really knowing whether I was worth taking a punt on and I’ll always be grateful to her for that. So, after gaining some professional experience I then started proofing my friends’ dissertations at university to have some grounding in editing and after that I began the job hunt.
What work are you most proud of?
At this stage, I’m just proud that my hard work paid off and my job is one I want to do.
What piece of copy do you really wish you’d written?
Obama’s acceptance speech for the Presidency in 2008. I can’t quite explain just how that speech made me feel, on such a wave of hope and change to declare this final statement was a moment of pure beauty: “…while we breath, we hope. And where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.”
What do you do if you hit a bit of writer’s block?
Working in technical copy means I’m quite lucky, as the function of the feature I’m talking about provides the copy. But when I have met it in the past I’ve just taken some time out, done something else and returned to it with a fresh mind.
What are you favourite and least favourite writing-related tasks?
I actually really enjoy editing. Making sure a sentence says exactly what you want it to say in the best way possible, it’s a small accomplishment each time you think you’ve hit the mark. My least favourite is more difficult to pin-point, though coming up with a good title is a nuisance!
Any copywriting pet hates?
You’ll often find me going through a comma cull when proofing, overuse – especially with a serial comma – is of huge frustration to me.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?
“Don’t go into city law because you’ll have to sell your soul” – Mum.
What advice would you give to people starting out on a copywriting career?
We all have to start somewhere, make sure you make the most of the opportunity and grow as writer with the feedback you’ll undoubtedly receive.