Copywriters are a breed apart. The word ‘Writer’ is probably inadequate to describe the versatility that the job entails. It’s not just a matter of ‘writing lines’. Contrary to popular opinion, copywriters must actually juggle a lot of hats to be able to write headlines, lines for billboards, long-form content for brochures, lyrics for jingles, short copy and headline for print ads in newspapers and magazines, letters for direct mails and e-mailers, scripts for radio and television, headlines, taglines, and so much more.
Each form of writing comes with its own rules and challenges. It’s not a career for the weak! You must be able to change writing styles at a moment’s notice, and that’s no easy task even for highly talented writers.
Oscar Wilde is said to have quoted, “It is easier to write a full length novel than to write four lines of good advertising copy.”
Apart from the actual writing bit, a Copywriter does other interesting things, too: ideating (conceptualizing), researching, uncovering consumer insights, observing, testing on the sly, extrapolating and thinking five years ahead using what-if situations, etc.
It’s a unique field. And you will find unique writers who were successful copywriters once upon a time: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Salman Rushdie, Dorothy Sayers, Don DeLillo, Joseph Heller and Helen Gurley Brown all worked as copywriters early in their careers.
So here are some reasons to back up our claim that Copywriting is at the top of the writing profession:
1. Copywriters do all kinds of writing (except the self-indulgent, my-personal-diary kind of writing). They write copy (i.e., text) for sales brochures, newspaper advertisements, scripts for television and radio commercials, billboards, Facebook posts, posters on college walls, the back of novels and popular non-fiction books, you name it. They even write speeches for the Chairman of the (client) company!
2. And because they need to weild their pen in different styles for different purposes, they are constantly digging up information and mining for knowledge on all kinds of topics (who knows when you may need info on the origins of Tupperware Tea Parties!).
3. Being trained in different types of writing also equips copywriters with the ability to write fiction, non-fiction, or film scripts. If you dream of being a novelist, this is as good a place as any to train yourself in the abilities required to write a good book. Anuja Chauhan, for instance, is an Indian author and advertiser (ex-Vice-President and Executive Creative Director, JWT), often described as ‘The best writer of the Indian commercial fiction genre.’
Here’s what she says about how advertising trained her to write:
“Advertising trains you to think very visually and in short sentences. In fact, I’ve always struggled, especially with The Zoya Factor, because you’re like, “Ho gaya yaar, kitna likhoge?” But actually you haven’t written very much. Also, being programmed to write (in) short (sentences), makes you go back to what you’ve written. Advertising has pros and cons, and its pros are that it teaches you not to let people get bored. So you’re always looking to leave a sparkly bit here and there on every page, so that there’s shine on every page or some kind of joke. That’s advertising training…”
4. You can develop as an individual even while being part of a team. As a copywriter, you must work seamlessly with art directors and client servicing execs. At the same time, you must create a niche and an identity for yourself. This can be a tough road, but it is extremely rewarding, too. You can well imagine how this will shape you as a writer.
5. We all desire a bit more than a good salary package. We want self-actualization; and here’s the field that requires you to develop more as a person and explore hobbies. (Yes,Indulging in hobbies has also proven to make an individual more creative and productive.)
Thinking creatively, having good communication skills, and being resourceful are qualities that are useful in every part and stage of life – whether it is your career, your home or your personal life.
Even if you switch careers later, it’s a skill that will always cover your back.