People tell me all the time that they don’t imagine copywriting to be a creative endeavor. They say it in a mildly surprised way, not like they’re insulting me, but like they just “never knew!”
Uh huh. Thank you.
The truth is, copywriting is much, much more than simply churning out chaff to meet a client’s needs. It’s a process requiring inventiveness and ingenuity, and if you don’t get good at it all at once. But writing a short story a day can help.
Like a muscle, our brains need to be encouraged and trained. Without training, you can’t hope to get better at what you do. Short stories give you that training, especially when you develop a habit. It doesn’t matter that they’re fiction and perhaps your job or your income goals revolve around nonfiction. Writing anything will help you become better at it.
And there’s also the fact that a short story habit gets you good at beginnings, middles and endings. Don’t make this mistake of thinking that’s not important with copywriting. Oh, it is.
So ready to learn how the exercise goes? No prob.
Start with a time and a place.
Try to find ten, fifteen or twenty minutes at the same time every day. Then pick an environment in which to do your writing, ideally the same place every time. This will become the muscle memory for your writing. Your subconscious will start to learn that when you’re in that certain place at that certain time, it needs to focus.
Next, find some inspiration.
I like to go onto Pinterest and make a folder of inspiring art. Then I print them out and keep them in a physical file so I can pull them out and lay them in front of me when I need to sit down and write a quick story.
Other ideas include putting up a beautiful desktop wallpaper, or sitting at a window facing nature. Try to inspire yourself with a bit of visual appeal; sitting at the rotting desk in the basement next to the Halloween decorations might lend itself to horror, but not much else.
Start slow. Don’t worry about telling a whole story each and every time you sit down to write. In fact, you should probably revise your idea of “a whole story.”
Short fiction functions differently than novels, see. You don’t have to give your readers every single piece of back story on your character. Much like in a blog post or email (hello, copywriting!) you focus on a single snapshot in time.
This could be an interesting science fiction thought experiment. It might be a romantic interlude where you don’t know that much about the characters. Or it could be the tale of the dark, gothic castle perched on a hill … the one everyone’s terrified of, but you don’t know why.
Until you do.
These are skills it’s imperative you learn if you want to tell story when copywriting. And make no mistake: you need to tell story if you want to create good copy.
And that brings me to my most important point about this exercise: It doesn’t need to be good. In fact, tell yourself your writing is going to be crap, but that no one will ever see it.
The goal is not to write well, but to simply write.
Ideally, from time to time, you would write well too. Because, you know, we’re all hoping to get paid here.
But too many great writers stop themselves from ever getting started by worrying about the outcome of their writing instead of focusing on the writing itself, which is the whole point of this activity. If you can continuously write every day for your allotted amount of time, then you have succeeded.
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