How Poetry Made Me A Better Copywriter

How Poetry Made Me a Better Copywriter
Image : See Ming Lee

“There really is no such thing as a boring subject. Just boring, unimaginative writers” —Ben Hur

When I first registered for my degree in Linguistics I had visions of myself becoming a features writer for a national magazine or an English professor…instead i became a copywriter. I never thought I would find myself being self employed and juggling family life in my mid-twenties but it is a career into which I easily fit without compromising on what I find most enjoyable in life. Despite writing creatively for many years I had never written a brochure, newsletter or e mail for my livelihood before, but all of that poetry and short story writing (and rewriting) followed by linguistic analysis, quickly became useful on my first day and all of the days which have followed since.

So, you’re a poet too? Here are a few reasons why a career in copywriting may just be your calling.

You Can Condense Language

Poetry doesn’t sell designer shoes or fancy chocolates but in its essence it is the art of telling a story in its shortest form.  For example, Samuel Taylor Coleridge once said that “prose = words in their best order; poetry = the best words in their best order.” Copywriting follows a similar principle of conveying a message using the best words the shortest way possible.

You Laugh in the Face of Criticism 

At least try and learn from criticism.  If your new to the world of copywriting I have a newsflash for you. There is no “perfect” poem or advert. The sooner you realise your work is fallible you stop striving for insane levels of perfection. There is no use in getting worked up over negative feedback, just strive for good and if that doesn’t work always believe that you can improve work for your clients.

You Also Laugh in the Face of Rejection

If you are in the creative writing game you get rejections on a daily basis. FACT. In the same way not all ideas impress a client. All of the rejections will train you to see the silver lining in the bleakest feedback. Its all part of the creative process people.

Multi-Tasking is Your Middle Name 

Living off your royalties for the rest of your life is a pipe dream for many writers.  Ignore the advice of Virgina Woolf in a “Room of Ones Own”.  You need to get more Vonnegut! Inspiration can strike at ANYTIME, so make sure you have at least Evernote on your phone. The jobbing copywriter has to generate ideas against the clock and that tall pile of administration work.  On a positive note the flexible freelancer can work on multiple unrelated projects at the same time.

You Can Hardwire Inspiration

All writers dread the white screen of death. Otherwise known as writers block.  Many writers have conquered this fiend many a time and know at least half a dozen techniques to get those words flowing. Its amazing what you can do when a demanding client requires your best work and brings forward a deadline.

Do you have a passion you feel could never be your career? Now is the time to think of ways in which you a incorporate those passions into a job. If  I have inspired you today please leave a comment below or get in touch. I love to hear all of your stories. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Creative Perks of Being Alone

Image: Christian Scheja
Image: Christian Scheja

When I was a child growing up in a grey industrial town, a moment alone felt like a real luxury. Sitting upstairs reading and writing was and always has been my alone time. Reading became my escape into the wider world. The Famous Five turned into David Copperfield and then Sylvia Plath and I wanted to meet others who felt the same way.

As writers we often forget what really inspired us to write in the days before Google.  I grew up on a healthy diet of fiction and non-fiction and I filled dozens of notebooks along the way. The local public library  fed my curiosity. as sharing information and ideas just wasn’t as easy as it is now.

The world of the visual and the written word genuinely excites me.

It wasn’t just writing but art which has provided a surprising creative outlet for me during these private hours. The world of the visual and the written word genuinely excites me. If anything I have have become more confident about sharing my gifts with the world. I write whenever I can and I indulge in a spot of photography to create memories from the emptiest of days.  My dream is to merge poetry and photography and create an exhibition which breaks the boundaries between the two mediums and human experiences.

It seems I have come full circle and writing and photography is so much more than my job. I would even go so far as to say that this is my calling.

Whether you work a day job or are a stay at home parent everyone has a gift to share with the world.

(Feel free to quote me on this!)

I would love to find out what you believe is your purpose in life and don’t worry it doesn’t have to be creative. 

Share your journey with me in the comments below or send an e mail. I love getting messages and reply to every single one!

 

 

 

 

 

4 Life Rules That Will Transform Your Life

4 Life Rules Which will Transform Your Life
Photo taken by Guy Kawasaki at Federal Palace Restaurant in Hong Kong

 

 

“If you stumble make it part of the dance.”

Unknown

We have so many people exerting influence on us in our lives. As prisoners of other peoples expectations we have bought a ticket to the roadhouse blues. Luckily that ticket doesn’t have to be one way.

How do you turn that frown upside down? By asking ourselves on a daily basis whether our people pleasing actions are facilitating or  in effect draining you of the energy to pursue your life dream.

*That is what life is about right? 

What makes you feel  wholeheartedly excited about life? In other words what gets the old adrenaline going and your imaginations fired up to the possibilities of life?

Rule #1 

Do what gets your heart PUMPING! 

I may be taking a certain classic eighties film out of context here but nobody puts your dreams in the corner. 

Take two minutes to write down what you want to do with your life and any steps you will have to do to make it a reality. It could be creating a funky magazine,  starting a blog, researching a degree course-its your DREAM so make it BIG.

LIFE TIP-Don’t let the negative thoughts surrounding your current situation drag you down.

Rule #2

Become an Active Optimist (even if it is just for ten minutes a day)

Not everyone is a natural l optimist but the trick is to combine that optimism with a dash of hearty realism during active planning.

Active planning is asking yourself what is achievable during a set time period. You may think oh there are far too many demands on my day to make my dream a reality and give up right here right now but the optimistic realist would plan how they can slot in fifteen minutes of active planning and doing on a daily basis.

Rule #3

Don’t Dwell on What Others May or May Not Think of You

Don’t cripple your dream before you have put pen to paper or finished your business plan. Successful plans start in the mind so dedicate ten minutes a day to a spot of psychological spring cleaning.

My personal strategies including mindfulness and a flick through my journal to revisit the positive effects I have had on other peoples lives. It could be anything, from donating to charity to a few good deeds you have performed for  family and friends in the past.  Concentrate on how it makes you feel to read about these achievements and transfer this positive energy into your life work.

If all else fails try and look at yourself objectively. Ask someone you trust to make a list of all the positive effects you have had on their lives. 

 

Rule #4

Buddy Up With a Like-Minded Friend for some Accountability

Make sure you choose someone you can trust to give constructive feedback to be your accountability partner. You may not have the same business idea but I can guarantee you will learn something new. We all have different experiences and  we develop valuable skills along the way. They might have knowledge of finance, law or the latest light room program or just be more sales savvy.

If you are feeling particularly adventurous why not create your own mastermind group, hire a business coach or look for a mentor? 

 

 

How to Succeed at Being Human

How to Suceed at being Human

Today is April Fools Day. A day of pranks and folly and also a day for serious introspection. The summer equinox has begun and as March transitions into April we are a quarter of the way through 2015.

FACT.We are halfway through the second decade of the twenty first century. 

I am in my mid-twenties, my transition from child to adolescent and now adult is complete and it is time to get accountable for my own life and ambitions. That was why my New Years resolution was one word. Illuminate. I want to illuminate the way for you, myself and my readers.

Yes, I am an introspective Human Being but who Isn’t? 

*Unless you are a robot you can definitely identify with this scenario.

I  was recently thinking of the past ten years of my life in the early hours of morning. The ghostlike colourful blasts of memories swam in and out of my concious vividly, in a way which being half asleep at 4:30 am can only do. I saw and heard friends I hadn’t encountered in years, music which evoked deep sadness and intense happiness all at the same time and amongst the confusion of it all one realisation hit me.

I had no way of putting these thoughts into sequence. Sure, age is a defining factor but  what about the day to day, month to month experiences of life we take for granted? 

1.Don’t Lose Sight of What was and is REALLY important to You

If you could ask your inner child what you want MOST in the world for your life what would they say. Apart from a bike, a slide or a game console you would probably say spending time with your  closest family members or just being plain old happy. That is why I put happiness and practicalities at the core of all my decisions. It is not about being airy fairy it all comes down to asking a simple question.

How can I create a practical realistic outcome whilst maximising my happiness? 

2. Write Down Everything that you are Grateful For

Education. Food. Shelter. A Loving family. A great circle of friends. A child who ADORES you. The monotony of everyday life can cast a shadow over your life which can suck the happiness out of the most simple of activities. (If you are a Harry Potter fan you get this reference)

Write this up onto a list and pin it to your wall or incorporate it into your journal writing routine. 

3. You are Never Too Busy to Say “I Care”

You may live miles away from your family or have insane work commitments which swallow up your whole day. A simple note which says “I Love You” or an e mail checking in with those who mean most to you can make you feel better about a whole lot of things in life. Humans need social support to thrive.

Note to self: The Grandest Gestures Don’t Cost Anything. They Are FREE. 

4. Be Kind to Yourself (And Others)

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Plato

Kindness starts from within and once you start looking at yourself and the battles you face on a daily basis you start to see how others are facing similar battles to yourself. Don’t judge.

5.Yes my friend. Happiness is how you succeed at being human. 

How are you going to review your first quarter of 2015 and move forward in a HAPPIER frame of mind? Write down three things you are grateful for RIGHT NOW and how are you going to improve your happiness for April. Don’t forget to leave a comment or e mail me to say how you are getting on.

*It could be on a napkin, a cereal box or a new update on Evernote. Time is of the essence.

The Importance of Celebrating Tiny Victories

Celebrate Tiny Victories

Celebrate Tiny Victories

The ritual of updating my journal on a daily basis has delivered a life changing realization.

I am appreciating the small things in life so much more and the great thing is these mood boosters are all FREE.

Life is about being the eagle and looking at your life from above and accomplishing your dreams and deepest desires through the act of celebrating tiny victories.

Work productivity seems to be marked by the length of your to do list and how “busy” you are. Soon life can feel like one big contest, with stress and the pressure to be constantly “busy” contributing to an unhealthy state of mind.

It comes as no surprise that it is easy to blur the lines between our private and work lives. Before we know it the pressure becomes too much and it is ultimately us who suffer.

My big tip for you is make a list of all of the things which make you feel motivated, inspired and passionate and pursue them. REALLY pursue them.

Step 1- You Have to Speculate to Accumulate

Go to your computer calendar, iphone or diary and highlight time to make your dream a reality.  Remember Rome wasn’t built in a day so be realistic. Go in with optimism and remember to be kind to yourself.

Step 2- How Do You REALLY Feel? 

Write down how it made you feel to accomplish to work on that goal in your journal. Describe how it made you feel-empowered, overjoyed or even sentimental. This is YOUR project.

Step 3- Are You Planning on Doing it Again? Hell Yes! 

Repeat. Emotions and goal setting are an explosive combination. Don’t forget to relish the wave of happiness along the way.

Feeling inspired? Tell me how you plan to celebrate your tiny victories today! Write a letter,  have a doodle, send an e mail or leave a comment. and let me know how you are celebrating your tiny victories today. 

 

My Top 5 Dream Travel Destinations

Honk Kong Copyright Amy Briscoe

Honk Kong Copyright Amy Briscoe

I planned an unforgettable trip to Hong Kong to mark 21 years of existence in this world. I still remember  the excitement and nerves as I sat in a cafe on campus booking the tickets with one of my best friends and planning our travel itinerary.

My parents were understandably concerned I was travelling to the other side of the world considering my previous holiday destinations were mainly Blackpool and Weston Super-Mare. Caravan trips to Ludlow  and trips to Stourport in Shropshire were the closest I had ever come to experiencing the Riviera. I had never even set foot on a plane before and here I was planning to fly home solo after the trip of a lifetime. The trip passed in an ecstatic blur of noodles, sushi, plazas and drinking fruit smoothies in humid rain! Soon enough I was sitting at home behind dreaming of future adventures behind my laptop keyboard. I have since experienced my first taste of European culture a few years ago on a holiday to Porto. Having a partner with Portuguese heritage has its perks!

I have lost count of the maps I created on Sta Travel as I dreamed of travelling again. Now I have responsibilities and a business it is even harder to pick up and leave the country for a few weeks of soul-searching and quiet reflection.

I remember reading Eat, Pray, Love knowing it was going to be cheesefest (because Julia Roberts is in the film version right?). Romantic clichés aside I revelled in the tiniest of details about life and routine in an Indian ashram, the food of Italy and the beauty of Bali. The descriptions of sitting in quiet meditation intrigued me. I have always maintained a sense of healthy scepticism for spiritual holidays but I found myself dreaming of this fictional characters travels. So in the spirit of Eat, Pray, Love here are my top 5 travel destinations. Read,dream and share!

1.Rome, Italy

I  have always wanted to go to Rome ever since I studied the Romans in year 3. I remember visiting the ruins of a Roman settlement in Gloucestershire on a school trip. I  bought a faux Roman coin from the museum and held it all the way home on the coach. My obsession seemed to grow as I got older especially after watching Roman Holiday. I just want to capture the city on film, gorge on Italian food and wonder in awe at the architecture.

2.Vienna, Austria

My fondness for Vienna hit a new high after watching Before Sunrise. The film follows a young couple after they meet on a train have a huge conversation and fall in love. I have always been a fan of its artistic and cultural heritage so if anyone wants to pay me to write or take photos of Vienna I am TOTALLY up for it.

3. Paris, France

I wasn’t really massively into Paris until I watched Amelie and Funny Face. Then two things happened. I wanted to talk philosophy in Montmartre and take a picture in disguise in a photobooth on the Paris Metro. Living the dream!

4. Boston, Massachusetts

Whenever I see the name Massachusetts the Bee Gee’s song starts to play in my head. The soundtrack to all the long car journeys of  my childhood. It is the home of the infamous Boston tea party, the fine minds of MIT andHarvard University and the Institute of Contemporary Art. If I could live anywhere in America it would be Boston.

 5.Reykjavik, Iceland

I never knew the Northern Lights existed until I read Phillip Pullmans Northern Lights. As an adult I realised you can go on trips to SEE the actual Northern Lights. Maybe I have been watching a little bit too much Stargazing Live but Iceland seems like a country on the edge of the world (quite literally) and I love the idea of escaping into a snowy wilderness and seeing the Northern Lights in all of their glory. Thank you Professor Brian Cox for keeping my Northern Lights dream alive!

Because There’s Beauty in the Breakdown

corridorfinal

corridorfinal

Sometimes you just gotta write.

I  apologise for  starting this post with mundane reality but the boiler broken down last week which led to five days of electric heaters and duvets and the shower developed a fault too. It seemed everything I touched seemed to  break between my fingers.

Last Saturday evening I  received news which jolted me right back to reality. My diabetic  sister, a first year in university, had been rushed to hospital and had been admitted with dangerously high blood sugar levels. The thought of her lying in a hospital bed hooked up to a drip made me feel completely sick  inside.

The boiler didn’t feel so pressing any more. It was just metal and a few nuts and bolts, not my sister, one of my best friends who has seen me through the best of times and the worst of times (quite literally).

Thankfully after a few days on a drip she recovered and she is now resting at home. Apparently stress triggered her blood sugar to spike so drastically. It reminded me of the times when I felt stressed and anxious during my university studies.

When I wasn’t around my friends going to lectures or socialising I felt incredibly lonely. To top it off I was studying at  a university three and a half hours from home. Homesickness and perpetual isolation gnawed at my soul.

At night, the desertion of the hall site quad outside my window pressed on my mind during those long lonely nights. I sought solace in music, in fact I discovered a love of  folk music  and foreign cinema curled up in my room at 3:30 am.

HMV and my local record shop became my refuge. Hiding behind the stacks of music in Cob Records became my simple pleasure. Nothing made me happy any more but the music, films and DVD’s provided an escape. To my friends I was happy go lucky but on my own I was a shadow of what I was before.

I often tuned into my local radio station in my home town when I got homesick. There were radio shows like “Late Night Love” which I used to secretly enjoy listening to when I lived at home.  The familiar accents of strangers from my home region acted as a strange comfort.

My halls were a remnant from the 1950’s. They didn’t even have  dial up internet connections or fitted en suites in the rooms. Shared bathrooms were the norm. So how did I move forward?

I made  changes to my lifestyle through regular exercise and taught myself how to cook healthy meals.  Sure, I didn’t know anyone and I wasn’t over weight or anything but I looked forward to going to my class three times a week and coming back completely exhausted, content only to collapse into oblivion when I went to bed. When I remember that time of my life when I wasn’t coping I imagine a lot of grey, the world seemed a darker place.

After investing in my physical and mental health I bounced back. It was a gradual process and it was only when I returned to university for my second year studies that I realised how  different I felt about the life I was living and how I was living it. I was in control and sometimes you have to learn how to make sure you are fitting in the important things that make you happy.

Because there’s  beauty in the breakdown.

Join the Journal Club

Join the Journal Club

Join the Journal Club

I have read articles preaching the powers of writing a journal both for work and pleasure. The act of writing is a wonderful thing. It has the power to excite, focus and console all in one simple sweep of a pen.

The Past
I received my first journal in the hazy days of childhood. I remember that it had a gold plated metal lock and key. I was a compulsive writer (and still am!)All I had to do was try not to lose the key.

The Present
It is probably a good thing that  it would take pliers and a soldering iron to prise the relics of my childhood open. My choice of  journal these days is certainly not lockable.

My journals are often gifts from friends, past and present, often given during challenging times of my life.

I don’t like to name drop (Liberty!) but my current journal is the most beautiful notebook I have ever set my eyes on. It has  taken three and a half years to get halfway through my journal. Not that it is a race or anything.

The Future
I started up my journal habit again as part of a free online course I took through the Open University and Futurelearn, “Start Writing Fiction”.  One of the first lessons of the course was taking the time to sit and observe the world around you taking notes of ideas and life experiences and using these as a starting point for your writing projects. I have recently signed up to a scriptwriting course through the BFI so I am looking forward to using my journal to try out ideas. Maybe it is my obsession with indie film soundtracks and really interesting story concepts but I have always wanted to write a script for an independent film.

I am writing in my journal again, albeit sporadically. It is very useful for maintaining focus on my creative and business goals. I don’t have time to write it in it everyday but if I journal  once or twice a week I think that is enough to keep my creative brain ticking over.

Do you keep a journal? How have you benefited from the process? I would love to hear about how your journal inspires and drives your creative projects forward.

Girl from the North Country

Blog1

Blog1

Hello and welcome to my new blog.

It looks pretty cool huh? All of this sparse white space ready to be filled with thoughts between you and I. Think of this as a meeting over a pot of  Earl Grey tea and a stack of  yellowed second hand books. I haven’t had a chance to make this page pretty or in any way polished  or refined yet but  hopefully you will hit the “follow” button and come back again.

I am currently sat by my radiator (It is quite literally freezing outside) listening to Bob Dylan’s cover of Jonny Cash’s Jackson.

“It ain’t me babe, it ain’t me babe, it ain’t me you’re looking for…Babe”

I  didn’t want our initial meeting to be stuffy and predictable. I am a professional writer so  I save that for my business website. I mainly write for business clients but  I also write for pleasure. I have been writing for fun since I can remember. The gravity of pen and paper just sucked me in.I remember  rummaging through my Grandmothers kitchen cupboard and upon discovering a few waxy cookbooks and manuals from the sixties and seventies I just wrote poems about all of the recipes and what they made me think of.  Interesting way of working eh? So that is my embarrassing admission for the day.

I like the freedom of sitting down and drawing.  I don’t think I am a great painter but I plan to read up on it and maybe experiment with watercolours soon. Maybe I can blog about it? I like the relaxation and loss of conscious awareness which comes with it. If  pencil lines could cure anxiety that would be great.

I am also a photographer so expect photographs. Lots of them. When I find something I like I tend to take lots of photos so prepare for the bombardment.

It is quite a relief to write something without the whole of the worlds expectations (including my own) hinging upon it . If your that kind of person you will enjoy my blog. I have no niche except to write about what I love and maybe talk about a book or film just to mix it up a bit. To sum it up words, images and life. So let’s go on an adventure into the grand void.

Thank you for my cup of sugar.

Amy