“You’re a writer? Oh, I got an A in English.” Or “It must be so great to just sit and write all day.”
Those are two of the worst things you can say to a writer. Any writer. While we often enjoy what we do, this is not a hobby. Writing is our career and it’s not always easy.
People often think that writers are born with a talent, hone their skills in high school English class, and are set for life. Nothing new to learn. No obstacles to overcome. This is not even remotely true. Writing clear, concise and entertaining copy is not something you can do in your sleep. It takes hard work and experience… a lot of experience.
However, there are a few tricks to the trade. A few “hacks” to keep in mind when you put pen to paper as a copywriter.
- Screw high school English – You can start a sentence with “And”. And you can start a sentence with “But”. No one is grading your work anymore, but they are reading it. You want your copy to read well. You want it to flow. If that means throwing in a few incomplete sentences for effect, why not? Yes, it does hurt a little at first, but you get used to it. In fact, after a while, you may even enjoy throwing the rule book out the window.
- Don’t get pretty – Everybody wants to write cool sentences. But using fourteen adjectives to describe one object takes the reader on an unnecessary journey. In the world of 140 characters, attention spans are limited. So sell your story, but know the difference between engaging your reader and indulging yourself.
- Don’t write for yourself – Writers are often told to write for themselves and not the public. That’s terrible advice for anyone working in marketing or advertising. You’re writing for the reader and you’re writing for the client. You have to please both of them, all of the time. What you want doesn’t always come into the equation. That’s just not how this works.
- Get into the reader’s mind – In journ school they always tell you to write for the lowest common denominator. But that’s not always true. Sometimes you’re writing for people who know a lot more than you do. And sometimes you’re writing for teenagers. Know your audience before you attempt to start writing. Adopt their mindset and ignore your own.
Not everybody is a writer. Some people don’t have the skills and others don’t have the experience. But, then again, some people can write and should write. If you’re thinking about trying your hand as a writer in the industry, keep these tips in mind.