If you’re like me, it’s been a lifelong dream to write professionally. Hours spent scribbling away in notebooks as a child morphed into opportunities to become a paid copywriter sometime during adulthood. Yet achieving the quintessential writing dream can sometimes be bittersweet. Although it sounds glamorous, even to me, when I tell people I am a San Francisco copywriter, I often pine over those days spent sitting in the summer grass with pencil and notebook in hand, especially when I’m on a tight deadline for a topic that barely peaks my interest.
Being a copywriter can unfortunately feel very much like a “job” instead of a creative endeavor. All writers know how depressing this can be when they had their hearts set on making writing their vocation. So how do we make copywriting fun again?
A San Francisco Copywriter’s Favorite Way’s to Make Writing Fun
There are a few tricks to tapping into the whimsical writer you were before copywriting became your nine to five gig. The best part? Each one only takes a few minutes to get your creative juices flowing.
Keep a diary
An elderly woman once told me that her biggest regret in life was not keeping a diary. Those words struck a chord in me and the very next day I went out and bought a beautiful emerald green notebook to which I would confess all of my secrets. 20 years and dozens of notebooks later, journalling is still a favorite past time of mine. And it’s influence in my writing truly shows.
Keeping a diary allows you to get personal — something that you rarely get to do if you are writing for someone else. It allows you to use prose or squiggles or whatever you like. It’s a way of taking yourself out of the stuffy box of copywriting, ghost writing, editing, and deadlines and instead writing just for you in a way that is totally freeing. You’ll find that this will allow your professional writing to have a personal feel as well, which will help you stand out against all of the other people writing on the same subjects.
Another key benefit to keeping a diary is getting your eyes (and writing) off the computer screen. The sensation of putting pen to paper is something to relish. It’s so visceral and tactile and unique. Your penmanship is a font that is entirely your own. Plus, you get to pick out a journal that matches your style and expresses who you are. If we could say the same for computers, my Mac would be purple velvet. But since I don’t have that option, I’m happy to turn to my trusted old diaries instead.
Weave tales of fiction and fantasy
The following exercises are ones that every type of writer should do at least on a weekly basis. I swear this was my secret to getting all A’s on my essays in college. Deadlines, repetition, and assignments can make you feel trapped. Your writing can go from exciting to dry in ten seconds flat. Much like a relationship, you need to spice things up or you’re going to find yourself in a sexless marriage. Sure, all the nuts and bolts will be there, but where is the passion?
Take five to ten minutes a day and write a short fiction piece. It doesn’t have to be good, it just has to be something you made up. Play around with the prose, use descriptive words, invent quirky characters. Weave adventures that make no sense. Just do something that is completely different style from your professional writing tasks. You’ll be surprised at how quickly this creativity will start to slip into your day-to-day writing.
A great way to expand on this is to make one of your professional writing assignments the subject of your fiction. Have to write a blog post about the latest tech app? Give that app legs and let it become the Godzilla app that takes over San Francisco. Or give that news piece you’re writing an alternate ending. You get the idea. And then when you sit down to write the actual assignment, you’ll have an arsenal of creative imagery and descriptive words to draw on. You may even be able to sneak in a line or two from your fictional story.
Expand your vocabulary
In the movie Clueless, Brittany Murphy’s character, Tai, decides to use a new word in a sentence everyday as a way to become more sophisticated. Oh, the wisdom we gain from watching 90s movies. This exercise is simple. Pick a word you don’t often use and incorporate it into the piece you are writing. It’s even more fun if the word has nothing to do with the subject you are writing about. You can challenge yourself further and pick multiple words. Can you tell which words we used for this blog piece?
The reason why this exercise is so useful is because it gives you a whole new writing assignment on top of the one you are already doing. Except this one is fun. It allows you to be creative and adds a secret personal touch to the writing. Just make sure you use the word properly so that people don’t raise their eyebrows sporadically.
Writing as a path to awakening
Approach writing with gratitude. Remember why you started writing in the first place. For many of us, it is simply in our blood. Writing isn’t just something we do, but it is a lens through which we experience the world. When looked at this way, writing is a method of tapping into our truest selves.
Author and poet Albert Flynn DeSilver teaches a workshop with the message that writing as a path to awakening is a process of utilizing the practice of writing toward further self-awareness, increased emotional intelligence, and overall expansion of consciousness. This approach allows writing to become a practice in mindfulness, much like yoga or tai chi. Just think of your work assignments as akin to yoga sequences; you’re not editing copy, you’re doing downward dog! You’re not cramming out a press release, you’re in savasana.
This approach takes some effort and a shift in mindset, but really, it’s been there all along and was most likely how you experienced writing before it became “work.” If you would like to learn more about writing as a path to awakening, check out Albert Flynn DeSilver’s upcoming writing events and retreats.
Lastly, remember to find inspiration in other writers and to remember why you started writing in the first place. And if that doesn’t do it for you, then remember that writing is one of the ways to achieve immortality; your words will still be there even after your body has passed on. And what point is there in living forever if you’re not having any fun? Every time you write something, just think “I am an immortal god.” Yep. That should do the trick.