This might come as something of a shock to you, but a lot of marketing copy is downright boring. The problem is, if you start feeling uninspired it doesn’t take long before it starts impacting your copy and your work starts to develop a robotic style.
So how do you stay fresh and creative as a freelance copywriter?
Firstly, you remember your love of words. You remember they can build amazing things like novels and lyrics and plays and poetry, and you reach into those things to find inspiration. Novels are good for this; no – novels are great for this, they remind you that words can be utilised in so many different ways, and that each author creates a world that no one else can. Novels are the cathedrals of the written word, they reflect the years that it takes to craft them, the ongoing editing rendering the rough stone smooth in the process. But novels aren’t the only source of inspiration to be found out there. Good writing exists across a lot of mediums, you just have to recognise it when you stumble upon it.
A great example of this is how much inspiration I’ve been getting recently from the football section of the Guardian, and from one sports writer in particular -Barney Ronay. Here is how he sums up English football at the moment
“… the great barfing, burping behemoth of waste and mangled talent that is English football, a Premier League where players are broken rather than made, where the only line is the bottom line.”
(If you are a fan of The Three Lions, sorry for bringing this up again – is it too soon?)
I find examples like this refreshing to see in a field so often dominated by the rush to cliché, and in Australia in particular, where men with no class write about men with no necks.
If as a freelance copywriter you’re struggling to stay inspired, you could do worse than reading the Guardian football section online. Then you can also read the comment section underneath for sadistic shits and giggles (especially if you’re unfortunate enough to support England).
Another way to stay inspired as a freelance copywriter is to find copywriting that inspires you. It’s rare but it’s out there. Don’t find the stuff that you can do, find the stuff that seems to tower over your ability and maybe makes you tremble a little bit. Find the stuff that makes you feel like you’ve been finger painting in front of Leonardo da Vinci.
And lastly, read poetry. I don’t care that no one buys it these days, that most of it is wanky and written by guys with no life outside of academia, just read it. Find the small chapbook that hits you with a hurricane of hurt and/or happiness, and dip into it regularly. Poetry is great for teaching you how to write well. Poetry at its best is concise, lyrical, rhythmical, and uses the least words to say the most things. It paints pictures using the barest of outlines and it manipulates the reader and elicits emotions far better than most modern marketing could ever hope to.
Summing up, you may think you’re only a “freelance copywriter” but you’re also a detective of writing. You’re starting to not just see the writing, but into the writing and even behind the writing. So find the kind of writers who don’t just lay a line of bricks but who are architects. When you fully understand the techniques that they’re using, you will be inspired again on a whole other level.
Words by Tom Dauven Chief Wordsmith | Creative Copywriter | Kickass Thinker