June 28, 2014And now a word from our sponsors

I will admit it. I am one of life’s moaners. Partly, it comes from being an obsessive perfectionist. I will get upset if a comma is out of place, I will be unhappy if a concept isn’t executed exactly as I planned it. When it comes to my work, I’ve always insisted on perfection.

But perfection isn’t always possible. And so I’ve developed a reputation at the places I’ve worked as someone who’s never quite happy. There’s a certain value in being an obsessive perfectionist, but I’ve started to think it’s led to people thinking I’m never satisfied, never happy with my work.

The truth is I love what I do. And I feel very fortunate to be doing it.

When I first became a copywriter, I saw it as a means to an end. A paycheque, if you like. I always had a way with words and I did something that came naturally to me. I still wake up some days amazed at the fact that people pay me to do what I do — to do what I love — play with words.

There have been moments where I have thought about quitting. The age old dream: taking a year out, touring the world, ‘finding myself’. For many years I told myself I’d do just that each year.

But I don’t need to go anywhere to find myself: you’ll find me at my desk. The words always bring me back. Seeing my work go live brings me back. Working with other talented people to create incredible creative work has brought me back, time and time again.

Whether you’re a freelancer working from home or, as I am, a copywriter paired with an awesome art director, whether you’re working on an ad campaign for an incredible brand or banging out B2B brochures for an industry you barely understand, you are being paid to be creative.

And that’s awesome. It’s just incredible.

I know a great many talented artists, writers, poets, performers. And the sad truth is that very few of them receive adequate remuneration for their hard work.

Our industry is one of the very few where talented creators can spend eight, ten, twelve hours a day at their craft and be paid to be creative.

Everywhere I have ever worked it has been the same story. Every industry blog will tell you the same. Creatives are undervalued, overworked, ‘the suits have taken over’.

But I think that’s a choice. The sad truth is that too many creatives still treat their job as a paycheque instead of the opportunity to create awesome, inspiring work. The death of creativity in our industry isn’t the result of micromanagement or big data or any of the other excuses you see bandied about.

It’s because some creatives simply aren’t passionate enough about what they do. Now, I know that passion is a dirty word. As I’ve said before, plumbers aren’t passionate about u-bends, so there’s no reason for a jobbing creative to be ‘passionate’ about copywriting or marketing or advertising. But I’m willing to bet a plumber is passionate about working with their hands. It’s the exercise of a skill that comes naturally to us. And we get paid for it. How cool is that?

In my experience, most creatives don’t fight hard enough for what they want. That’s because they think they want to write a novel or become a film director or whatever their pet project may be. And so they let bad work slide because to them, it’s just work. A paycheque. A nine to five.

I felt this way for much of my career. But in the last year, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some people who really care. Designers who get upset if a pixel is out of place. Creative directors who won’t let an idea go until it’s reached its full potential. My art director, who’s at his happiest when he’s in his ‘mind palace’, mulling over possibilities, exercising a rare intelligence.

Nobody gets into this industry because they love selling soap flakes or oven chips or even exciting stuff like booze and cars. They get into it because they love to create. It comes as naturally to us as breathing air.

And whatever you’re working on, you’re a creator. With a vision. With an innate knowledge of how things should be.

It’s a rare talent. And not a day goes by when I don’t feel grateful to be in an industry that lets me exercise it.

Yes, I moan and I complain. But while millions get up every morning and go into offices to pore over excel spreadsheets or stand behind sales counters or sit in cubicles with headsets on, we get paid to be creators.

The next time you’re thinking about throwing in the towel, the next time a client stomps on your idea or something you’ve been working on for months gets canned, remember what brought you here in the first place.

Exercise your creativity and stand up for your ideas. You’re here because you’re good at what you do. And nothing can take that away from you.

Whether you’re a copywriter, an art director, a designer or an illustrator, give yourself a pat on the back.

You’re doing great.

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This entry was posted on Saturday, June 28th, 2014 at 5:07 pm and is filed under Advertising, Blog, Me and my business. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

One comment

  1. You’re absolutely right. It’s far too easy to take the work for granted. Being able to write and get paid for it- even if it’s just writing a simple brochure for plumbing supplies- is still a chance to work with words. It’s kind of incredible. Thanks for the very well-written reminder.

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