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Posts Tagged ‘copywriting

Why sometimes, it’s not about the words

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Image: blank scrabble tiles

I'll have a perfectly constructed sentence please, Carol

You know those people who always seem to say the right thing? Those serene individuals, calmer than Buddha, who wait patiently while you witter on like a blithering idiot, then promptly sum up every feeling, every emotion, everything you’ve been trying so desperately to verbalise in one, simple answer?

Yeah, I’m not one of those people.

Ironic isn’t’ it? I mean, I’m a writer. Words are like, my thing, you know? But talking isn’t. Oh, sure, I can construct perfect paragraphs, sizzling sentences and compelling copy, but ask me to talk without a crib sheet and I fly off on a million different tangents, tripping over my words and getting so caught up in what I want to say, I never actually manage to make the point I originally intended to make.

It’s probably why I chose to make this my living. Ask me to write what’s in my head and I’ll give you an articulate, well-structured piece of copy. Come to me for advice and I’ll serve you up the verbal equivalent of a really fucking bad first draft.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a ‘closed’ person. I’ve done the I-am-an-island thing and I’ve worn my heart on my sleeve, and nowadays I like to think I’ve found a happy medium concerning what and with whom I share things.

But GOD, that talking thing. It’s like my thoughts trip over halfway between my brain and my mouth and what comes out is a tangled mass of arms, legs and the contents of the owners’ handbags. Ever seen a pile up in a cycling race? Yeah, that.

Take tonight for instance. I was on the phone with someone who’d had a bad day. A simple enough situation, but you see, he’s one of those people. The kind of person who can say in four seconds what you’ve been trying to say for half an hour. The kind of person who always says the right thing, and does so without having to try three different versions of it. Out loud. The kind of person I just wish I could be like.

Let’s just say he’s ‘special’ to me, and I wanted so badly to come up with some earth-shattering wisdom to solve all his problems and leave him comforted (and slightly in awe of my verbal dexterity), but all I managed were a few long pauses, punctuated by the razor-sharp “Uhm…yeah…well I don’t really know what to say. It’s like… yeah, cause uhm…”

You get the picture.

We began wrapping up the phonecall and saying goodnight. Inside I was feeling like I’d been utterly useless. Then, right before we bid our farewells, he said this:

“Thanks for listening to me moan. I really needed that.”

For this writer, sometimes I need to forget about words. Sometimes all I need to do is just listen.

Afterwards, I went into the living room where my flatmate and best friend of ten years was watching TV.

“Why is it that when I’m talking to him, I can never put into words what’s in my head? It just comes out all jumbled and I end up sounding like an idiot.”

“Because you’re emotionally invested,” she replied simply, “you’re not impartial so it’s harder.”

Yeah. She’s another one of those people.

Written by guy_interrupted

July 20, 2011 at 11:00 pm

What makes a good writer?

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guy_interruptd pondered what to write next

Should I pay attention to the mechanics, or just write from the heart?

Something totally unexpected happened at the gym today. Someone I don’t know all that well came up to me and said “I’ve been reading your blog. You’re a really good writer.”

It’s one thing to have a guy stumble up to you drunkenly and slur “you’re fit, mate,” but quite another to be complimented on something which, to be honest is quite an intimate part of you.

And at the gym of all places! He works in publishing, though, and is one of the very few non-Brazilians there – most of whom think ‘reading’ consists of trying to pick out their friends in amongst the headless torso shots in the back of QX – so I shouldn’t have been all that surprised.

But for a second I didn’t know what to say. I was gobsmacked and flattered.

Someone asked me once to sign a copy of an advert I was featured in as a model.

I couldn’t do it. I’m ashamed to say I cringed.

I didn’t ‘make’ my face. It didn’t require any skill or talent; in fact it was all down to my parents. So I find it hard to accept compliments for just sitting in front of a camera and looking a bit moody for a few hours.

“Tell you what, when I’m a published writer, I’ll sign an article or a book for you.” I said.

And it was true. I’d rather be complimented for a skill or talent than the way my face got put together about thirty-one years ago in my mother’s belly.

Does that make me ungrateful for the way I look? No. I’m eternally grateful that I don’t make small children cry. Especially as I’ve got a six year old boy running around the house (more about that later). But a compliment about something I’ve developed and practiced and regularly put out there for criticism, means far more than an appreciative glance from someone in a bar or changing room.

I write for a living. I know how to craft an attention-grabbing headline, I know that when putting marketing copy together you should always reiterate the intention of the article in the first and second paragraphs. I know about AIDCA. I know how to write for the web, I know when to use ‘that’ and when to use ‘which’ and I know all about SEO, keywords and metadata.

But when I write my blog, all that goes out the window. I don’t care about my Google ranking, I don’t care about structure – I rarely edit. I don’t even mind if I don’t get any page views on the article.

I just write for me. It’s such a joy to have the freedom to write without all those restrictions. So wonderful to put pen to paper and just write what’s in my heart.

So, am I a good writer? Some would say no, some might say yes. But if you’re still here, then I guess I’ve done an OK job this time.

Thanks for reading.

Written by guy_interrupted

December 17, 2009 at 12:54 pm

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