I've just returned home from a lovely family holiday. It's fantastic to get away and switch off from copywriting...and everything else.
Well, almost everything. If I'm being honest, I didn't ignore work completely. As well as checking on my emails a couple of times during the course of the week, I made a couple of minor adjustments to my website and portfolio. Nothing too demanding.
However, these small tasks did get me thinking, about where and when I prefer to write. Everyone has their own place, or places, where they do their best work. While some people complete peace and quiet, others are more productive when there is some activity around them.
Here are my favourites:
An obvious place to start. I don't have any business premises and I don't intend on having any in future, so most of my work will be at home. Thanks to my darling kids, I don't even have an office or study in the house. Maybe one day.
That said, wherever I am within my home, being creative never seems to be an issue. Whether I'm at the dining table, on the couch or even sitting in bed, writing comes easily. Which is lucky, given how much time I spend there. If the radio or some other music is heard in the background, even better.
Yeah, I know, my garden is still part of my family home. But it's different. Being out in the fresh air, particularly on a lovely summer's day, is a completely different experience.
Even if it's only a couple of hundred words, I love sitting with my laptop on the bench in the garden. Sure, the sun glare can be an issue for the screen, as can the warm rays coming down on my 'short' hairstyle, but these are easily overcome.
Now, let me qualify this one. I'm don't mean sitting in a tropical paradise, scribbling away on an A3 notepad while sipping an exotic drinking under a palm tree.
No, I'm talking a lot more, well, local. A couple of times, while in the north of Scotland, I've found myself with some time to myself as the kids were otherwise occupied. Rather than picking up a book, I've taken the opportunity to fit in some writing. The sound of the waves, the sea breeze and the quiet make for some productive work. While the tide is out, of course.
Back indoors for an obvious choice. The quiet, particularly during school hours, along with the available PC's and reference books make the library one of my favourite places – and not just for writing.
I also feel it's important that I make a point of visiting my local libraries as often as possible. The closure of some and the reduction in opening hours of others is a tragedy. For some, the library is the starting point for an education or career. For others, it's a meeting place and a place to have contact with the outside world. Rant over.
So, that's where I like to write. However, there are a couple of other places where I feel that I'm less productive.
The bus and the underground are a no from the off – there just isn't enough space. While I don't use trains as often as I used to, when I do I often see people working away while sitting at a table.
Perhaps it says more about my concentration levels, but it's not for me. There's too much going on around me. People leaving or boarding the train, checking which stop we're at and people chatting to each other or on their phones. I admire people who manage to make the most of their time during their journey but I'm not one of them.
I don't like coffee, which helps with this one. Though I do enjoy a hot chocolate with fresh cream (hold the marshmallows). Coffee shops are, for me, one of those places where the idea is better than the reality. Sitting inside on a cold or wet day, typing away while sipping a hot drink sounds great.
But it's not. The tables are often small and I'm more concerned about spilling my drink than drafting a glorious piece of copy. There's the noise of coffee machines as well as cups and saucers coming into contact with each other. And don't get me started on the smell of coffee...
I've already posted a couple of times about the importance of building a copywriting portfolio.
I still believe this to be one of the most important stages of my development as a copywriter. My portfolio continues to be changed and tweaked as I try to improve on my body of work. Naturally, my primary aim is to find paid jobs. This will allow me to build a reputation and show off my talents in an attempt to find further clients.
However, I'm not yet in a position to display numerous pieces of writing from paying customers. This means that I still have to rely on 'spec' work.
As I've written previously, I'm quite comfortable with this. For instance, I've created some product descriptions based on real products I've seen online – I wasn't impressed with what I read, so I tried to do a better job.
Likewise, I had a go at some advertising copy. I'm still relatively new to Canva, but I've quickly realised what an amazing resource it is. Even for someone who isn't advanced when it comes to creating online images (yes, I mean me), Canva makes it so easy.
This work is now complemented by my latest idea.
I decided that, rather than produce random pieces of writing, I would create my own product. No, I'm not actually launching it, all I've done is come up with an imaginary product that will allow me to sharpen my skills on different types of copywriting.
The outcome of this idea is Tropical Spark – a fruit flavoured energy drink. So far, I've had a go at some ad copy, a product description and three radio ads. Having a clear idea of the drinks' features and benefits (after all, it's my creation) has definitely helped with my writing and I plan to work on more copy using Tropical Spark.
One day, my portfolio will be rammed full with a host of well written pieces of copy, paid for by a diverse range of organisations – hopefully. Until that happens, I will continue to look for other ways to make the most of my portfolio.