|A Body of Work
By: Jerry Northup
Your work as a writer can’t be judged until you can get people to read it. Sometimes, the right picture can do the trick. The thing is that for writers, we deal in words. And words do not speak for a thousand pictures. While it’s true that “every picture tells a story,” effective written commentary is intrinsic to the effectiveness of whatever story you’re telling, whether it is to consumers or between businesses. The copywriter acts as an intermediary, and over time, your efforts should result in a body of work that’s uniquely personal and worth closer examination.
Copy is also a snapshot in time. The evolution in style, phrasing, and sentence structure is a natural process in the development of every writer, but that doesn’t mean your early work has to suffer in comparison. In fact, it can stand pretty tall.
Too much of a great idea is a bad idea. Take a cross-section of what you’ve done and it should give you good direction on what you should do.
- Quantity and quality. In your body of work, you should be able to identify a baseline level of quality. If you can’t, you can be sure that others won’t be able to either. Don’t let yourself get “stuck” in one frame of mind for one specific industry, unless you want to become a foremost authority in it. Financial professionals usually recommend that investors diversify their holdings. Writers should do the same thing and diversify their content.
- Throw out your high and low scores (but mainly your low ones). When you build a portfolio, naturally lose the pieces that aren’t your best performances, but take care to avoid overemphasizing the projects that gave you particular satisfaction. Not everyone will see it the same way you do.
- Accumulation vs. dissemination. There is a case to be made for amassing a large body of work, but if you can’t point to how a particular piece helped close a sale or change an opinion, you’re working almost solely in statistics. That’s not what a good writer does. We work to define perception, forge identification, and cultivate understanding of the subject. If you don’t have this mindset, you’re merely throwing words against the wall.
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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