Why did you choose a career in copywriting and how did you get into it?
I would say it was more that copywriting chose me.
Long story: As a child, I loved drawing. I would sit on my little wicker chair with a stack of paper and a black felt tip, draw a bubble-shoe shape and then turn it into an animal – that one shape could be a mouse, a dog, a cow. My dream job was to, and I remember saying it, replace the man who drew Dennis the Menace or Desperate Dan when they died. No wonder adults looked at me funny when I said that!
Anyway, my degree was in Graphic Design, but I was really interested in advertising. I actually would sit and watch ads. Still do to be honest. And at am end of year design show, I was told that while my ideas were great, my design wasn’t and that maybe I should look into being a creative…unkind words maybe, but true.
So I went to Watford (RIP) as an art director, teamed up with someone who categorically said, I won’t touch copy at all. I don’t want to. And here I am.
Luckily, I fell in love with writing after reading Matilda and Mariel of Redwall when at school (cliché but Shakespeare is my favourite writer and to be honest, art, history and English were my strongest subjects) and I just wanted to get into advertising, so…
Short story: I’ve been a creative and copywriter since I was 24 and don’t know any different. I wouldn’t want it to be different either.
What work are you most proud of?
I would have to say my work for Amazon Music. The brief had TWO messages (which we all love, right?): 1. Show that Amazon Music has something for everyone and 2. You can use Alexa to find that something. It feels funny writing this, but I love how I managed to tell a story and leave the reader asking questions and get across the messages in a couple of words.
They’re not Hemmingway’s Baby Shoes but they’re my Baby Shoes.
What piece of copy do you really wish you’d written?
There’s so many pieces that I really wish I’d written that I’ve started a folder on my desktop called “Copy Inspo”. I keep them there and look at them and cry that it wasn’t me who wrote them. They’re my Marlon Brando moment – I could have been a contender!
What do you do if you hit a bit of writer’s block?
I go for a walk. I take a mini notebook with me and wonder around scribbling in it because for some reason, as soon as I walk out of the door, take 20 steps to the end of the road and my brain suddenly word vomits. Another thing that seems to work is to go for a wee. It seems to make room. Don’t ask me how that works, it just seems to. *shrugs shoulders*
What are your favourite and least favourite writing-related tasks?
They’re the same. Starting the process. Staring at a blank Word doc terrifies me. Staring at a blank piece of paper excites me.
Any copywriting pet hates?
It’s probably the same as everyone else’s. When the creativity is sucked out of it. I know we shouldn’t be precious but it’s hard not to be when sometimes your heart is on that page. (Dramatic, I know, but true)
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever been given?
There’s two bits my parents instilled in my sister and I: 1. Do what makes you happy and 2. Just be yourself. And they’re what I tell junior creatives too. There’s a job out there that’s right for you. It’s a bit like finding a partner in that sense. And it doesn’t matter what size the agency or company is, it’s about being happy and looking forward to what you’re doing that day.
What advice would you give to people starting out on a copywriting career?
Read all the books. Learn off those who have gone before you. In fact, learn off everyone – even those on your course. Admire the words they wrote and then hate the fact you didn’t write it. But then, get back up and start writing again. How I see it is that you need to hear (see?) what everyone else’s voices sound (look?) like because it helps you find yours.
I’m a massive, MASSIVE Beatles fan. They copied the looks and sounds of their favourites. A Hard Day’s Night is the first album that consists entirely of original music. It was their 3rd album. So, it takes time, but it’s worth it. And if learning off others was good enough for them…
Why do you find ProCopywriters membership useful?
I’m a new-ish member so still learning about everything that comes with being one but I’m enjoying being connected with so many fellow writers, and learning from the talks and workshops that are on offer. The thing I’m enjoying the most at the mo, is reading the spotlight blogs. It’s nice to know we’re all different but the same – it’s not just me!
Where can people find out more about you?