Copywriting under pressure: the benefit of having a flexible brain


I recently did some copywriting work at a major publishing house in the city. It was a last minute job but I had no looming deadlines that week so it was a good fit AND a great opportunity to get out of the home office and be amongst REAL people, not the furry four legged variety that squat on my desk.

The interesting thing about this particular copywriting gig is that I had no idea what I would be writing about. But rather thpiles of magazines in the kioskan freak me out this kind of excited me. I’m so used to working to a briefing document and being fully versed on the subject matter that this experience was going to stretch my creative writing and editing skills in a zillion directions….

Once seated in a comfy chair, surrounded by glossy magazines neatly piled on a cat-hair free formica desk and having passed an OH&S test with flying colours, I received my first task: edit copy for an ad in the Home Beautiful magazine. This was a small job; clearly I was being broken in gently. But despite it needing very little work, I felt that I owed it my absolute due care and attention and spent longer on it than I really needed to: I was so keen to do a great job and wanted it to be absolutely perfect.

I soon realised that perfection wasn’t always the name of the game. It wasn’t about re-writing something within an inch of its life, it was about fixing mistakes, maintaining consistency and making sure it all made sense. And when an email came back to say it looked great, I knew I could relax: I’d passed the test.

So when the next job came in, I approached it with renewed confidence.

This time it was about a health food product to feature in a magazine insert. More copyediting but completed in less time, perhaps because I’m into health food and could better relate to the product. The jobs came in thick and fast after that and by the end of the day I’d covered Barbie Dolls, Skylanders, Collagen and Activia Yoghurt. Talk about variety!

Despite going home that day with a frazzled brain, the whole experience was fun, refreshing and educational. Sometimes it’s nice to throw yourself in at the deep end and when you do, you’d be surprised how well you cope.

I’ve always said that if you have good writing skills, you can write on any topic. Some may take longer to get your head around than others, but it’s that versatility and ability to stretch the old grey matter in several directions that will help you deliver the goods.

If I got the chance to do a similar copywriting gig again, I’d jump at it :)