Here are 5 creative copywriting tips you won’t often hear.
1. Stop watching reality TV
It’s true I personally find reality TV about as engaging as licking postage stamps, but this is more than personal preference. As a writing device, reality TV is set up closer to a psychological experiment than a well thought out story. And that’s the problem. As far as creative copywriting tips go, watching something that is one step above an infomercial probably isn’t the smartest move.
While reality TV affirms the every man can be a hero, it completely ignores the fact one of the most powerful devices is the reluctant hero. You simply don’t get the same tension of a person being pushed by circumstance when they’ve lined up for 3 days to participate.
Everyday dialogue, contrived scenarios and constantly upping the ante around the characters at a producer’s whim doesn’t teach you good story writing. Nor are the characters memorable (seriously, go poll your friends and see who remembers the Idol or Big Brother winners without Google).
It’s a piss poor benchmark for writing, creative, commercial or otherwise. Go hire some decent films and TV box-sets instead. Creative copywriting is about juicing up the real story of life, it isn’t about writing it’s transcript.
2. Read stuff you don’t like
Reading stuff you can’t stand helps you learn quickly. You can see the faults in the arguments – and you can see the persuasive speech that is applied to stuff that seriously doesn’t work. You can also identify the gaps in your own knowledge and teach yourself critical thinking as part of the process.
People like Hunter S. Thompson used to type out books they liked to see how they worked. They also paddled in the shallows of works that weren’t for them to work out the appeal. As far as creative copywriting tips go, understanding what you do and don’t like about other people’s work is paramount.
You can also learn writing tips from reading utter trash.
For example- I read the entire Twilight series. As a hardcore vampire and horror fan, I was beyond horrified at how bad it was.
However rather than dismiss it for the drivel it was based on the film or reviews, I read it and made my own conclusions first. I could see the underpinnings of why other people liked it. It basically took Mills and Boon and tarted it up for the supernatural age. It tapped into the soul of every victim of teenage love. The angst, the lying to the parents, the temptation of another love, the heartache and even the deadest creepy obsessive stuff is the shizza in teenage romantic experience.
By reading it, I can also see how creative copywriting tips influenced the series at bookshop level and made it more marketable than what it was.
Of course all the crap about sparkly vampires and rapidly aging babies was enough to make me want to head butt the author and apply for a restraining order against anyone who uttered the words “Oh I loved it”, but it was still a worthwhile exercise.
It doesn’t hurt to pull up the floorboards of your carefully constructed opinions and see what lurks underneath. And you can do that when you read opposing views.
3. Writing is not a spelling bee
Have you ever read a book called ‘The Spider Boys’ by Ming Cher? It’s a novel about life as a street kid in 1950’s Singapore. It’s written entirely in Singlish and other Asian dialects. The interesting thing about the book is it puts you right into the action and the story by creating a place via language. The pace, the life and the characters are driven by the clipped, rapid pace and brutally efficient speech.
The proofer would have had heart failure trying to spell check it.
One of the most repeated creative copywriting tips is “write for your audience” and nowhere is this more evident than in the grammar debate.
Typos and sentences constructed by vomiting on a page are not on. Everyone needs a good editor. But adding texture to your writing, moving past word perfect and creating something with language that is actually alive is brilliant.
If all you can add to a story telling experience is grammar and punctuation, be an editor, not a story teller. Our brains are not wired to live in the polished castle of your English teacher’s wet dream.
Get used to it.
4. Every writer needs someone to say no
It’s far less painful to receive honest feedback and make the appropriate changes on the first couple of passes than delude yourself into thinking its amazing and widening the circle of embarrassment. Wield your own red pen like Xena Warrior Princess with her sword and find someone you trust to do the same. Then go back and cover the page in even more red.
You are chasing what is readable. Not what your ego can handle cutting.
There isn’t a writer alive that writes amazing stuff first time, every time.
If someone tells you your stuff sucks like an Electrolux, listen to them. Kissing your butt and calling it ice cream when the work is clearly not up to scratch never improves the work.
If you can’t handle feedback, work on your self esteem until you can. It’s all part of the writing process and it’s most definitely a part of being a working creative copywriter.
All the creative copywriting tips in the world won’t save you if you can’t listen to feedback.
5. You’re only as good as your last story
We (unfortunately) don’t buy the whole album and listen to every song in order any more. The same goes for your writing. Even the greatest bloggers don’t get people regularly tuning in each week to sit at their feet and listen intently to the latest tale.
The chance of this happening is significantly less if you dish out patchy work.
You don’t need Unroll.me to finish your blogging career before it begins. Nor should you always think of which page gets the most traffic and write more of the same. You should aim for quality and consistency and have a body of work that makes you proud.
We’ve all had those writers we love reading who have bored the tits off us by confusing quantity for quality. So if you need to take 7 years between books but the book you produce is awesome, do it. Or if you truly don’t have anything worthwhile to add to the internet that week, stay silent.
Make what you produce count. And work it for as long or as hard as you need for that to happen.
Want more creative copywriting tips?
Check out my Slideshare Feed for a list of 10 cheeky creative copywriting tips to get you thinking on both a creative and creative copywriting level.
Tell me what you think. I’m always happy to hear from you.