When it comes to the writing process, I don’t think there’s one ‘perfect’ way – I don’t believe that any professional writer would say:
“If you follow these x steps, you’ll produce the perfect piece of copy every time.”
For such a thing to exist would mean that you could get a machine to do everything for you, and there would be no need for copywriters to exist – scary thought!!
From participating in discussions within the copywriting community and joining in the weekly #ContentClubUK Twitter chat, I’ve picked up on several common things that we do to help us craft creative copy…
Perhaps unsurprisingly, we love stationery! While some prefer quality brands, others love the old-school exercise books that you used to cover in wrapping paper, posters or wallpaper. Every good writer usually has a notepad within arm’s reach, ready to jot down anything and everything that comes to mind.
Personally, I have 15 notepads on the go at the moment. Some of those are dedicated to clients, others are for my business strategy and one is for my content where I brainstorm titles. I have a mental health journal to write down everything that frustrates me so I can see what can be dealt with and the things that don’t matter, I have a mini notebook in my handbag for ideas on the go, one in my car for thoughts on the school run…
As a writer you know that one certainty is that you never know when inspiration will strike, but with a notepad and pen to hand you’re always ready.
At times it’s hard to get the words to flow. Sometimes you sit at your desk with the best of intentions, but either you can’t think of a compelling angle, your ideas are all jumbled, or perhaps your mind’s an absolute blank.
When this happens, we all get away.
I don’t mean heading off on a lavish holiday (although that would be nice!), but rather we get some distance from our desk so our head has space to breath.
One idea that I love is the ‘creativity bath’. I know a few copywriters who will take time in the middle of the day to run a luxurious bath and relax for an hour to get the creative juices flowing. Others head out for a walk with/without a furry friend. Personally, I do my best thinking in the shower. If I have a problem, have a long thought leadership piece to structure, or need to think up an alternative and compelling position, I head straight for the shower and within about 30 minutes my idea is ready to go.
I guess the next point is closely related…
While we all tend to have a main ‘base’, such as a home office, kitchen table or co-working space, we don’t all work in the same place all the time. Life gets boring if you’re stuck behind the same desk staring at the same walls every day. So we spice it up…
A change of scenery is always great for a creativity boost. It could be as simple as moving to another room, heading out to a coffee shop, frequenting the local library, or going to work onsite with a client. I think my goal for this year is to make more use of my garden in the summer months.
Everybody uses productivity tools to help them at work, whether apps, spreadsheets, or good old pen and paper.
I have a complex web of tools to help me stay organised – from Trello boards to organise my ‘to-do’ list and for collaborating with clients, apps to keep me productive on the move, paper planners to schedule my days and weeks, and of course, a trusty spreadsheet for planning my promotional efforts.
We’re all different, and you have to employ the mix that works for you.
The act of writing isn’t actually that difficult – usually when you get going the words flow and you just need to get them down on paper.
The hard bit comes when you need to refine what you’ve written and craft it into compelling copy that will really resonate with your audience – and that comes down to the review process.
When I’m reviewing copy, I tend to go through it several times, each time reviewing for a different thing. For example:
- Have I hit the audience’s pain/aspirational points?
- Have I used the right language that will resonate well?
- Does it sound like my client’s tone of voice?
- Are the facts correct and cited/linked?
- Is my spelling, punctuation and grammar correct?
I also read aloud, as it forces me to read the words I’ve actually written, rather than those I think I’ve written. Reading aloud also helps you to check you’ve phrased things correctly – if you trip over the words as you speak them, they need to be changed.
And when time allows, I try to sleep on things and look at them with fresh eyes in the morning.
Perhaps the thing that stands out the most amongst professional writers is that we all love what we do and feel privileged to be in a position where we write every day. It’s this passion that turns basic words into compelling copy.