James Walsh — ProCopywriters Member Spotlight

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

I didn’t choose it, as such. I was trying to break into film and TV and juggling odd jobs to make ends meet, when a friend invited me to write some copy for his creative agency. As it turns out, copy and scripts aren’t all that different — you need to tell a good story and try not to bore anyone.

That first freelance job led to other freelance jobs and now I write copy more or less full time (with a few screenwriting gigs on the side). I never had much of a plan to speak of, but here I am, happy as a clam.

What work are you most proud of?

I wrote scripts for the new Dennis the Menace animated series and I worked on the display content for a Sea Life exhibit. If I can make a kid in her pyjamas laugh out loud on a Sunday morning, or if there’s a boy who can’t wait to show his Mum this cool jellyfish display, I’m proud of that.

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

There’s lots of good writing out there, I don’t have any favourites.

I do wish someone would pay me to write taglines for movies, though.

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

I just write anything down, even if it’s terrible, and then I send it off and invoice before they realise what I’ve done.

Kidding! No, I curl up in a ball under my desk and scoff mints until it’s safe to come out.

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

I always like getting to know new clients.

I hate hate hate chasing invoices (but I hate the idea of an app doing it for me even more).

Any copywriting pet hates?

“User experience”. We ain’t users, pal, we’re people.

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

What’s that famous copywriting rule? “No-one likes being told what to do…”

I’m not a sentimental person (if you give me advice I’ll probably put it down and forget to take it with me) but here’s a helpful reminder from Stephen King: “The road to hell is paved with adverbs”.

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

Be patient.

Don’t blog unless you have something to say.

And don’t be a sycophant — Twitter’s great and all but nobody likes a suck up.
Use your brain, check your spelling, and have some manners. You’ll be fine.

Why do you find ProCopywriters membership useful?

I’m nosey as f*!$ — I like to spy on other writers and steal their ideas and opinions. And ProCopywriters feels like a community and not a clique; somewhere I can find useful information and support (and where you don’t have to retweet Dave Trott to fit in).

Where can people find out more about you?

You can visit my website, or find me on Twitter @walshpjames.

I take my son to Inverleith Park in Edinburgh every Wednesday too, if you’re that creepy, stalker type.

What do you think?

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