Writing is as much craft as art (especially copywriting), and when grow uninterested in improving your craft, then it’s time to consider an alternate career (maybe something like professional bowling).
In a recent interview, science-fiction uber-writer Walter Jon Williams cuts loose with a statement that applies to all writers – especially copywriters, who consistently plunder their bag of marketing tricks to solve problems for clients.
If I don’t learn something new with every work, the result may be fine with readers but it’s a disappointment to me. I’m always trying to stretch and grow in different directions, because the alternative is stagnation.
It’s like playing a musical instrument. If you’re not practicing, you’re not getting better.
The Embarrassing Revelation
Years ago, I wrote a lot of B2B direct response projects which didn’t include pieces normally found in consumer direct response (buckslip, longform letter, etc).
After a string of successful projects, I started to believe I was dipped in gold. A direct response Master of the Universe.
Until a business client forked a program to include a rare consumer mailing – and I realized I had zero idea how to write the consumer portions of a direct response mailer.
Fortunately, I had a lot of examples saved in my swipe file.
More fortunately, I knew a consumer writer, who received a phone call and was (gracefully, I’d like to think) pumped for information.
After that little wake-up call, I realized I’d stagnated on the direct response front, and while my B2B copy was sound, I’d essentially written the same piece for a couple years.
No exploration. No growth.
Today – even though I write less and consult more – I’d like to believe I think like Walter Jon Williams; if I haven’t learned something new on a job (a rarity), I wonder if I’m coasting.
What have you learned this week?
Keep writing, Tom Chandler