I got a big, metaphorical slap the other day.
You see…my writing style can be unconventional and prone to flights of fancy. Ancient worlds, fictional characters and fantasy storylines caress my mind as I’m trying to think about serious stuff and I can’t not put that in. That’s why I started this blog. It allows me to be unrestrained while advising myself to do better. Honestly, y’all are just eavesdropping (and I love you for it). Out there, though, I keep my ‘professional’ self in a suited cage like I’m supposed to. Because being professional means being boring and painting within the lines, right? WRONG.
This is what happened.
Last week, I had a writing assignment for a dear client, Catherine Mumbi, Marketing Director at Simply Mammoth Solutions. We’ve brainstormed together on concepts and strategy in the past, but this was the first time she wanted me to do some copywriting for her. I went all extra with it: research, research and more research. (Research is a marvellous thing, guys, get on this bandwagon).
The problem? I wanted to include everything I learned into the assignment. I jam-packed that thing full of facts, figures and all the science goodies that were now in my brain. In the process, however, I overlooked the fact that the target market is not into science and I let my writing style become severely compromised. I have to be professional, I thought and sent in the work. A few days later, I get a phone call from Catherine.
“This is not you, Barbara” she said, after an awkward moment of hesitation. “The article was too long and academic. There’s a reason I hired you-give me that flair!”
Wait…are you saying you want me to be goofy?? OMAIGAAAAAAAD.
I almost short-circuited, guys. I now live in an alternate universe where people get paid to do what they love?! One reason I chose the creative industry is that your job literally is to play. Play with ideas and concepts, experiment and push the boundaries on your craft. You are essentially getting paid to be goofy. Steve Jobs was goofy. Google is goofy. Even Jack Ma is goofy.
And now, a happy side effect to this blog is that clients like Catherine hire me, specifically because of my goofiness. Do you know what this means?
I got my USP (Unique Selling Proposition)! A reason why the client will choose me over Ron, Harry & Hermione offering the same services.
She wants flair? IMMA GIVE IT TO HER.
DISCLAIMER: being goofy does not mean not doing the work. You still have to research, think about what you’re trying to achieve and structure your concepts into a minimum viable product (MVP), which in my case is story. The fact that my writing comes out looking like I started and finished within 10 minutes means I’ve done my job. It takes a lot of work to make this look effortless (hair flip). My first draft is always trash, an illegitimate birth child of the millions of synapses at work in my brain. I have to go thorough it, edit ruthlessly, kill a bunch of darlings (I have a folder labelled Dead Darlings), rework the layout and allow for new ideas that I can later add to the piece. This takes time and a lot of walking- my best ideation is done on the road. By the time I get to the third draft, it finally starts to resemble something that has ten toes on each foot. Proof-read that and boom: fourth and final draft is done and ready for the client (and for you my little eavesdroppers). Work is a must.
But so is play.