Death of the 9-5

Posted: 6th Jun 2013

Freelance working hours.

When you decide to go freelance you accept that your working life will be in a state of flux. Some see this as a good thing, others struggle. I went from being in a structured 9-5 to working as and when I please. It wasn't the concept of freedom or motivation I struggled with, it was the pressure I put on myself. Over the years I learnt to embrace the madness and my own personal ways of working, whether they be good or bad.

Quality isn't dictated by Time spent.

I've always believed this but when you are freelance this becomes more prevalent. The hours you work, the total figure, becomes less important, it's what you actually achieve that matters. That may not be a finalised body of copy, it may be a successful or unsuccessful brainstorm.

Freelancers find it hard to turn off, this can be due to the unconventional hours obviously. The closer you work to your bedtime, the more your head will be swimming, but there is a happy medium. I work with clients in this country and overseas, time difference plays a big part in my working routine, but I also find I work better at night. I need to be available during the day for my UK clients, and I can work fine and dandy during the day, but maybe it's the fact there is less distractions at 1am that drives me on.

Define distraction & embrace procrastination.

You will get distracted and you will procrastinate. It's a fact. If you're getting bored and drifting away at the office, leave the office. Work at home, in a coffee shop or simply go for a walk. If you aren't getting work done then make the most productive decision and stop. When I get distracted my mind takes care of things itself. It mulls away, quietly considering while you scout Reddit or Facebook. These are often the moments I get the 'Eureka' moment. Give yourself time to procrastinate, do the dishes, read a magazine, I promise the answer will come when you least expect it.

Productivity isn't measure by results.

Like I said before, the hours totalled is no indication of quality. Being productive is as much about the process as the end result. If you have an afternoon of shit ideas you've still had ideas, and you've got all the crap out of your system. This isn't wasted time, it's ridiculously valuable to your problem solving process. Don't be harsh on yourself.


You have to sleep. There's nothing worse than going back to a project or page you feel you've stared at for 2 days straight. I'm not opposed to good nap, the best kind of procrastination. Some people see the joy in seeing the end of day in sight, I don't so much. I like what I do and I like being good at it, I can't be on the ball and hit deadlines if I'm never away from my machine. Perspective does wonders.

Being a good freelancer means embracing the working life you choose for yourself. Motivation is half the battle. If you know yourself and what works for you, you're laughing.

The Masters of Advertising Copywriting

Posted: 20th Jun 2013

Each to their own.

If you haven't got Taschen's 'The Copy Book - How some of the best advertising writers in the world write their advertising', then get it. Now.

I don't own an extensive range of copywriting books. I think I've always looked to gain more from a piece of writing than the factual, the resourceful. I love insight, a real study of how people work, especially writers. 'The Copy Book' ticks that box. On top of thumbing through some of the most infamous long and short copy ads of all time, you gain a self-penned insight into the writer's routine and attitudes to their profession.

Every writer is different. One of the things I love about my job is the fact that I see a brief completely different to another copywriter. It's the personal idiosyncrasies and routines that make the writer.

'The Copy Book' delves into these, and I was surprised by the passionate obsessiveness of some and the robotic nature of others. When it comes to my own attitude and habits to my copywriting, there will always be areas that I ponder over and try to customise, so it's good to see the masters struggle with the same.

The 'Process'

When it comes to the kick off I need two things; to be in the mood and a pen. I write everything by hand. Time consuming and not exactly tree friendly, but I like the look of words and my own handwriting. The act of handwriting is a real pleasure, probably why I love the research stage of projects so much.

The likes of David Abbott adopt a similar love for pen and paper. Abbott rarely shapes a piece of copy prior to creating the copy itself, it is 'somehow in his brain', something I believe the noble pen and paper is responsible for.

Ideas & Words

Advertising copy is definitely less a case of knowing what to write, but when to. Thinking visually and forging the idea into communication is a delicate process. I love bad ideas, they are just as valuable as the good, so as delicate as this process is, it can be about bold decisions and taking risks. I stumble across my best ideas often by accident, but no idea is perfect. Test it's stealth and if it remains as pliable and punchy as it did at first thinking, then you're onto a winner. John Bevins believes you don't "have" good ideas, you find them.

Work how you work

Some writers need noise to work, others a quiet office. For me, my writing space is often dictated by the project at hand. I love collaboration, I enjoy thrashing out ideas and test driving copy but I have to admit that the traditional notions of brainstorming and 'workshopping' make me cringe slightly. I re-write continuously. A trait I developed as a screenwriter I'm sure, as some copywriters limit their copy to a 3 draft routine. Neil French rarely re-writes as it kills the flow once he starts to tinker.

Develop your own style and use it well. If there's one thing this book taught me it's that industries and projects change but habits and routines rarely do. The best writers are the ones that know what works for them and can apply it accordingly.