Finding the ‘Me’ in Creative Copy (It’s There, Right?)

As someone who has always loved to write, it’s almost-never difficult for me to grab a pen and paper or flip open a laptop and just let my words flow. Following the death of my sister, I thought that more than ever my love of writing would help soothe whatever was going on inside. Well, I was wrong.

I would begin what seemed like a poignant, thought-provoking piece, just to realize halfway through that I sounded angry, bitter, and resentful. Could I be surprised? That was how I was feeling, and the words that knew me all-too-well had too little trouble giving my feelings away.

At work, my role as a content writer began to feel heavy. I would begin a new piece only to flex my fingers angrily above the keys – any writer knows the exact motion I’m talking about. Your hands hover as if ready to type the best damn sentence of your life, just to realize nothing is there. Your fingers splay open and you clench your knuckles, willing anything – anything – to happen.

And that’s when it hit me – my heart wasn’t in it. Any of it. And I had no idea where it went. Let me tell you how I found it.

It’s Not You, It’s Me

Working as a copywriter at a small digital marketing agency means many things.

  1. The content you’ll be producing will be broadcasted across many mediums. Learn how to write for each.
  2. There should really be three different people handling all of your responsibilities. Learn how to do it by yourself.
  3. Content topics for legacy clients will get repetitive. Learn how to switch it up.

Getting into this field, words made sense to me. I knew them; I knew how to manipulate them to craft the perfect message. After nearly a year and a half of working on several of the same clients, I hated myself for penning words that I felt fell short. To my employers and to my clients, the work was still on par with what was expected, but to me, it just wasn’t the same. And I felt guilty for not providing the quality of work I expected of myself.

Growth Isn’t For the Fragile

So, what was the magic moment when things clicked? As much as I would love to tell you about some fantastic epiphany, there really wasn’t one.

Learning and growing aren’t gentle, warm feelings. Growth isn’t for the fragile. It’s a shedding of the beliefs that you wore as armor. Learning isn’t always joyous. It can mean realizing fears, recognizing your weaknesses, and staring them in the face. It hurts. To be honest, it sucks. But it’s what you need. Flowers growing through concrete must first strain against the cold, hard pavement in order to bloom.

And, bloom I did. Was I enjoying what I was writing? No. Was I happy remaining silent? Also no. I remembered the slogan I had given myself, “Creative content, beyond the written word.” I opened my damn mouth.

Not Losing Sight of Your Identity

As someone still struggling with finding my own happiness, I’ll tell you this: speaking your mind is the only way to free what’s inside of you. To begin this process of rebirth, I had to let myself speak openly and honestly.

For myself, this meant being honest that my work wasn’t coming as easy, and that instead of being angry with myself I had to begin caring for myself. At work, it meant being open with my superiors that the topics I was writing about weren’t inspiring. They weren’t intriguing me, and more than anything, they weren’t serving our clients. I used the words that were fighting against me to unlock what I was actually fighting all along.

As fellow writers and creators, you have this power too. Try something like this:

  • Pen an open letter to yourself. You’d be surprised what you might write.
  • Ask for a 1:1 with your superior. They’ve likely been in your shoes and will be eager to help.
  • Reach out to friends and family. Holding in negative emotions furthers a toxic cycle; try initiating conversations that might scare you.
  • Be patient with yourself. Sometimes you’ll produce four pieces per day. Sometimes you can barely pump out one. It happens.
  • Let the words do what they want. A writer understands that sometimes you can’t find the perfect words. That’s okay.

So, I leave you with this: be honest with yourself. Is there a ‘me’ in creative copy? Nope. You can get lost trying to push your own boundaries. But, there’s a ‘try’ in artistry. Never give up hope that you won’t once again find yourself in what you love.

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