March 15, 2016 § Leave a comment
Writers have historically been seen as a glamorous lot. Quite, quite mad but in possession of a certain louche allure.
Copywriters, on the other hand, are cloaked not so much in mystery as general apathy. No one really cares who or what we are, even though they consume our pitiful offerings on the daily.
I’m being bitter. It could be worse. A fair while ago I saw what the world thinks of recruiters. Someone had tweeted some Google suggestions for “Recruiters are…” and they were pretty much what you’d expect.
— Matt Burney (@SussexMatt) September 23, 2015
As a person of immense self-interest and not insignificant self-doubt, I decided to self-flagellate with a quick search for “Copywriters are…”
You won’t believe what happened next. (You actually will because I have pictorial evidence, as well as time-stamped embedded tweets linked to legitimate Twitter accounts.)
We’re not even sure what we think about ourselves
— Honor Clement-Hayes (@mutatedmusings) September 23, 2015
I was quite pleased with that result. Rich, in demand, well paid, exempt from…things. Much wow! But then I realised: these things are all questions. Even though I searched for ‘Copywriters are’, I got dealt a load of questions.
No one actually knows what we are. Not even us.
As a community of over-analysing, neurotic headcases (OK, maybe I’m projecting), this seems fitting. We kind of know what we do but we’re still having an identity crisis. The rest of the world just has no idea – for all they know, we’re all millionaires exempt from paying tax and wearing ties.
I took part in a passive-aggressive whispering bitch fest in the old Twitter DMs a while ago. The subject up for debate: is a copywriter a writer? Should a writer of the words we call copy be proud – nay, honour-bound – to say “I am a copywriter”?
I think we’re a mixed bunch. I’m happy to say I’m a writer but it leaves quite a bit to the imagination, like saying “I’m a scientist”, which I’m prepared to bet no serious practitioner of science actually does. Copywriter may get a response of “So…you do them trademark thingies?” as my copybuddy Kady has moaned about, but it’s at least a genre. I don’t actually get called this at work: my job title is content writer. But in my mind, I’m a copywriter. Always.
For me, it’s about solidarity. We’re quite a low-key bunch and I enjoy the quietly noble club we’ve formed, growing and mutating with each new acquisition welcomed into the fold. Before I found #copywritersunite, I thought copywriters didn’t mix much and mainly stayed at home swigging Bailey’s out of their tooth mugs while peering through red mouse eyes at the squiggles of tracked changes. Like me.
At a #copywritersunite night last year, we enveloped a new mouse-eyed freak in our awkward, clammy embrace. She’d never been before; didn’t know a soul. Another copybuddy and I gathered her up and made her drink prosecco and eat burgers with us. Now: Twitter friends for life. Because she identified with #copywritersunite. She identified as a copywriter.
— rentaquill (@rentaquill) September 23, 2015
Besides, from the image above – who the hell wants to be a writer? People think writers are freaks, it would seem. Writers are lazy, lying good-for-nothing dreamers. In contrast, copywriters are hardworking, lying good-for-some-things dreamers. At least we get out of bed in the morning. Most mornings. Some mornings we even take off the pajamas. Some mornings we go so far as to put other clothes on to cover our nakedness.
— Honor Clement-Hayes (@mutatedmusings) September 23, 2015
Writers are the engineers of the soul.
February 12, 2016 § Leave a comment
This is a photograph of me and my copybuddies sitting on some wasteland by the Thames, wearing bold headwear, big jumpers and celebrity sunglasses. We have a Thermos, in which there is something potently warming. We built that fire out of some old pallets. I don’t know where we got our personalised director chairs from but they’re great. They’re the oversized kind that make you look like tiny children, as you can see.
February 10, 2016 § Leave a comment
As artists – yep, artists – who need very little beyond a laptop or even a pen and some paper, there aren’t many tools of the copywriting trade in which to indulge.
I think this makes us take the myriad variety of the few very seriously. Stationery and browser extensions are my particular loves.
My can’t live withouts:
Papelote notebook straps
I began trying to get my hands on a Papelote notebook strap a couple of years ago. You’ll very rarely see them in any high street shop and there are a minute number of online stores delivering them to the UK.
Papelote are Czech, which explains the dearth. But recently, I discovered Bureau Direct. These guys are not only a small stationery company (which makes my heart beat faster); they’re the nicest problem-solvers I’ve had the pleasure of dealing with.
I use my notebook strap for my Pilot G-TEC-C4 and a mechanical pencil that looks like a real pencil. That’s basically all my offline tools. I also strap my phone in there if I’m on my travels and it’s good for loose paper as well. What more can I really say? It’s a band of elastic with loops.
You can get Papelote notebook straps in 13 colours and three sizes. I want them all but accept I should probably only be using one notebook at a time, negating the point of having multiple notebook straps. Sigh.
Brown Pilot G-TEC-C4
If I don’t have one of these to hand, I don’t write in my journal. It’s that simple. (I’ve done it once because I was drunk but I regret it daily. It’s a BLOT on my diary style.)
The Pilot G-TEC-C4 is real skinny. It’s a 0.4, which is more of an illustration pen than a writing pen. I do use it for drawing too, which is probably why I like the sepia colour, but I just find it so wonderful to write with too.
I just bought a box of 30 off Amazon because I fear being caught without one so much. I felt so riche and indulgent.
I ignore Grammarly’s grammar advice because it’s super American and also I listen to my own internal grammar, not a browser extension’s. Tuh.
However, it’s fantastic for typos (you just hover and click on the right option) and I simply adore getting my weekly feedback. They tell you how many words you’ve written online, how dynamic your vocabulary was and how many mistakes you made. AND they compare you with the rest of the Grammarly community. Ugh, such joy.
It’s free for Chrome but you can also upgrade to get more stuff I don’t even know about. Think they’re having a – very relevant – Valentine’s Day sale right now too.
Happy hawking, hucksters.
January 27, 2016 § Leave a comment
If I were any more excited, I’d be at home lying down with a flannel on my forehead.
For a start, I’m actually leaving work early so I’ll be there for the whole evening. Another epic thing is that the bar we’re going to is really near Waterloo and kicks out at 11pm; my train leaves 15 minutes later. I can’t lose. (I can’t lose, right?)
More? Ok – how about it’s payday tomorrow? How about that? It’s payday, I’m meeting my boy Dibbs for some drunch (at a mystery location) and then it’s “prosecco all round, darlings.”
The best things about #CopywritersUnite nights:
- You meet lovely people each time. I have my core cackle of copybuddies but as an example: last time only some of us met and enjoyed Sam, so I’m looking forward to us all being there to enjoy her. Plus maybe some other meekly brave newbies.
- Saying “Oh YOU’RE @randomwriter. How nice to know your actual name and face!” like 20 times. And then still referring to their handle in conversation: “Yeah, Chloe said that recently – you know, @re_scrawl.”
- Talking about words. Oh, the luxury of that. I am a lonely writer in an insurance company – no one will talk of hilarious dangling modifiers or heart-breaking cadence with me. Getting down and dirty with people who know enough stuff that you feel a bit out of your depth is amazing.
- Kady‘s outfit. If there ain’t some kind of punctuation upon her person, I will be disappointed. Luckily, I have mine tattooed on myself so it’s inevitable.
Are you a copywriter? Do come. We’ll be at The Cut (the bar at The Young Vic) tomorrow from 6.30. You can get us on #copywritersunite anytime.
December 16, 2015 § Leave a comment
Well, the rest is history.
Since that night, we’ve counselled each other through job applications, difficult briefs, Creative Director cajoling, grammar decisions and one particularly bizarre case of three-way agency courting.
Having three people (four – Copyfather, obv) basically on call for you is an incredible liferaft. To know that I can put out my CopyCat Signal and immediately have a group of people to back me up…it’s like a virtual gang. The kind whose pens are mightier than all the swords.
Hanging out with them IRL isn’t like being with other people – they have the same brain. They know the things I know and their thought processes follow the same cackling swoops and swirls. We laugh a lot.
Monday night we did Copy Christmas. Buttered rum, duck confit, Greek chips and mulled wine. It rained and we retreated to the corner of a giant shed (fine, ‘Rekordelig Lodge’ on Southbank) to shout at each other.
I felt consumed by affection for these three very different but utterly similar humans. They’re just the best.
Thanks guys, I owe you my sanity. x
September 8, 2015 § Leave a comment
But I did it last week and it was great. Thursday was an important occasion – I met my copyfather. The man who writes like he birthed me himself and has given me muchos advice and encouragement. That man is Chris Miller.
It was #CopywritersUnite of course! In a dreadfully loud pub but a lovely boothed area. I immediately huddled up with Kady and Dibbsy, later joined by Chloe (we had copywriter bitching to do – “NINE FUCKING DAYS?!”) but am ashamed to say I neglected them when Chris turned up. I don’t know how I managed to get drunk on two pints of cider and a gin but it happened. Between the mild deafness of my companion, the poor acoustics of the room and my *ahem* boisterousness, I had rather a sore throat the next morning.
In other news: I won another One Minute Briefs! Imagine! It was a complete surprise and I shouted it on the Northern line. I had to be shushed. In other, other news: I passed my driving test last Wednesday! Imagine! That was a complete surprise too – I drove poorly at best. You can read the whole story in the ingenie Young Driver’s Guide.
Good week all round.