conversation is an engine

A lot can happen in a conversation

Copywriting Tip #1: Love the Study

with 2 comments

In Freelance Copywriting (Eng3316) we’ve started producing work in earnest and every week (including tomorrow) another student piece moves into their portfolio. All the students have signed up for work they’ve never tried before—ad concepts, radio scripts instructional booklets, and many other forms. All according to where their writing passions are leading them.

One thing I love about copywriting is learning new stuff. Whether it’s asking a doctor questions during brain surgery or watching a silicon wafer get doped and fired or learning about the medicines Lewis and Clark used (forced marches and blood-letting seemed to resolve a lot of their ailments). There is no end to fascination with how the world works. Putting what I learned into words (and images) electrifies the whole task: spooling out my argument and helping show why anyone would care what the patient said while the doctor probed his frontal lobe, or why ramping quickly to 900 degrees centigrade matters when firing a wafer or why Dr. Rush’s bilious pills had such a strong…(ahem) purging effect—it’s a puzzle that rewards more as I attend to it. Words and ideas are the puzzle pieces. The goal is to engage very particular audiences (with much shorter sentences than I’ve used here). James W. Young would call this the gather and masticating stages of the process. How could you not love this work?

Part of the research is figuring out what makes a good print ad. Or what makes a radio spot compelling. In other words, what forms have people used to tell these stories in the past and how do we use these forms today? Or do we pick a new form (which typically means recycling another older form)? These are questions we answer again and again as we look at what’s being done today and revisit the best of the best.

But love of learning is the engine. And putting things into words is the transmission. These are the bare bones vehicle of a copywriter.


Image via Copyranter

Written by kirkistan

March 23, 2012 at 8:39 am

2 Responses

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  1. […] This very moment—long before you have a clue what you are doing. This sounds different from what Young said. Young said go slow, gather your material and masticate. Chew it over. And keep chewing. I […]

  2. Reblogged this on conversation is an engine and commented:

    As an undergrad studying the general courses before getting into the nuts and bolts of my major, I typically looked for the easiest way to get homework done. I wanted to spend as little time on it as possible. Homework simply was not that interesting.
    But in my major, that notion got turned on its head: I wanted to spend as much time as I could gather because the topics were fascinating. Becoming fascinated and digging deeply are prerequisites to making something remarkable to someone else.
    Making something remarkable is the work of the copywriter.
    We’re at the threshold of another copywriting class so I am bringing back this older post to get at why it is critical we go deeper than first impressions. We all want to take the easiest path, but the easy or obvious solution—the one you developed because you waited too long to start the assignment and it is now due—is not the one you’ll want to show someone else.
    “Easy” and “obvious” do not produce remarkable results.
    Remarkable requires going deep.


    March 24, 2014 at 9:13 am

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