I didn’t set out to be a copywriter or a ghostwriter. I actually had set my sights on public policy analysis for the federal government. Housing and Urban Development, specifically. However, when 45 took office, he froze federal hiring, and that effectively shut me out of a special qualification period for recent graduates.
So I found myself trying to shop a 10-year management career and freshly minted master’s degree in public administration around a small town. Nobody really knew what the hell to do with me. Finding myself to be both overqualified and underqualified I again asked myself, now what?
That’s when I realized that my experience managing various projects from large-scale lease-ups and communities, to multi-site marketing, to small business counseling, and the fact that I had written over 60 academic papers in the previous two years, amounted to something. So I thought, what the hell, I’ll hang out my shingle and sell my writing.
Ahhh the Writer title, sounds glamorous right? Let me tell you a story – all those pictures of people with their laptop on the beach and a drink in their hand are BULLSHIT.
While some writers do eventually get to that state of ease in their career (I guess anyway), I don’t see myself there anytime soon. And that’s ok – I am at my best when I am continually educating myself.
For me, writing for business reports, emails, and activities like a blog are one thing. Writing for various publications, and under multiple names is a whole different beast altogether.
One of the ways that I fast-tracked my success in this arena is by copywriting, word for word, from material I know to be well written. This selection of material could be anything from public policy journals, trade magazines like Writer’s Digest or Construction Today, fiction or nonfiction, and magazines like Wired, Forbes, and MIT Sloan.
Of all the material I read, the writing in Wired is by far my favorite. It’s authentic, it’s fresh, and more importantly, it blows up all the hard grammar rules you’ve ever been taught.
Copying the writing in different publications allows me a moment to reflect on word choice and sentence structure. Studying work from this angle also gives me a chance to think about why the author used those combinations to convey a particular message.
If I’m good at nothing else, it is the ability to pick out the voice of the person I am writing for and match it to the intended audience- I am confident this comes from reading a wide range of material and studying the words of these very accomplished authors.
Give it a try to see for yourself! And while you’re at it, drop me a comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts!