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The Word on 'Grunt' Writing
By: Jerry Northup
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Every copywriter has felt the weight of what seems to be too many projects on his or her plate at one time. The truth is, when your workload seems to rise above what’s reasonably deliverable, you’ve got to rise above the work. The only way to do that is to break the whole hog down into individual parts and begin consuming the information — not as quickly as it comes in, but in a systematic fashion that allows you to “turn and burn” without sacrificing quality for speed.

Make sure that what goes out is better than what came in. The projects that show up on your desk today, but were actually due yesterday, are a common source of frustration. Better to get out from under the heap by getting on top of it.
  • Because creative briefs are sometimes just that … “brief.” Often, the information you are handed is far from complete. One of the greatly undervalued skills of good copywriters is the ability to fill in the gaps. To be successful, writers have to develop a strong instinct for locating the missing pieces. It’s not something you’ll find in any job description, but you’ll need it every job you do.
  • Technology doesn’t stand in the way of words. Use that fact to your advantage. Unlike in graphic design or video editing, there are no software-caused delays between thoughts and text. If you’re juggling multiple projects, get an idea of how long it’s going to take a designer, for example, to clean up a logo or crop an image. It might be just 15 minutes, but that’s time you can use to put out another fire.
  • 40 hours a week is a lot of time. There is no question that late nights and some extra work on the weekends is unavoidable. But honestly, work pumped out at 2 a.m. is rarely better and usually more mistake prone. Use your full-time privileges to your best advantage and exceptional amounts of overtime will be the exception and not the rule.
Feeling overwhelmed as a copywriter is, in some ways, a rite of passage; in others, it’s an indication that you could be in a whole hog of trouble. Take it all in small bites. The grunt work doesn’t last forever.

*Artwork by David Northup

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About the Author
Originally from Toledo, Ohio, Gerald Northup has written professionally in the fields of advertising, marketing, social media, and corporate communications since the early ’90s. For a look at his blog posts and social media articles, as well as TV, radio, print, and website samples from his online portfolio, visit gnorthup1979.wix.com/44words.

Jerry is also a talented guitarist, an avid tennis player, and a lifelong student of linguistics.

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