Our local San Francisco public-radio station encourages listeners to write short, personal "Perspectives" for broadcast. These brief commentaries are basically monologues on any light subject.
What I've noticed is that these "Perspectives" are often wildly overwritten and filled with purple prose. For example, one listener was critical of the way the word "awesome" is thrown around these days. Here's a bit of what she had to say on the subject:
"If lockers and cafeteria food are awesome, what do I say when I stand at Sky Camp and see the setting sun bathe the tendrils of fog below in a brilliant orange light?"
The problem with this passage, of course, is that it's self-consciously "poetic" and precious.
Now, before you criticize me for picking on someone and being a meanie, let me tell you this. At the beginning of my career as a copywriter, I struggled mightily to simplify my style and develop a voice of my own. Let me be specific . . .
When I first got a job as a junior copywriter at a big advertising agency in San Francisco, I would go into my boss's office with ideas for ads. He would say, "I like your ideas. Your ideas are great. But I can't use ideas. I need ads! So go back to your office and turn those ideas into ads!"
With my tail between my legs, I would go back to my office, stare at the blank sheet of paper in my typewriter, and then start writing clichés.
"So pick up a (insert product name). You'll be glad you did."
"Experience the (insert product name) difference."
"Are you looking for a (insert product category)? Then take a look at (insert product name)."
I would then take my awful ads back into my boss's office and he would tear them apart. Then, thank goodness, he would teach me how to turn my bland efforts into motivating copy. I can honestly say that it took me two years to be able to write simply, fluently, and conversationally.
That's right. It is not easy to write well. Like a plumber, a carpenter, or a mason, a copywriter has to serve an apprenticeship and learn his/her craft. Like so many things in life, you have to work very hard to make it all look easy.
I'm going away for vacation very soon and will be back in mid-June. And when I get back I'd love to help you by putting my long experience and hard-won knowledge to work for your business. What do you need written? A Web page? A landing page? An email? A sales letter? Keep me in mind and let's talk in the middle of the month.
To check out the kind of money-making results
I get for my clients . . .
. . . then give me a call at (415) 461-0672 or
email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I'd love to say hello in person!