Very few truly master the ability to turn ideas and concepts into words. The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know. But there are some fundamentals that never seem to fail when a deadline approaches. Despite assertions to the contrary, the copy never writes itself. It takes heavy lifting at the start of every project to get the words off the ground, but with persistence comes product every time. How it’s received, however, is far less predictable.
Always give your best effort, because it may not be good enough. No matter what you do, not everyone will like the words you put on paper. It may be precisely what they said, how they said it, and what they meant to say, but sometimes that is exactly the problem. People have different reactions to what they think when they read what they think. They reappraise their positions. Reconsider their logic. Then, at times, reprimand you for making them sound so…whatever.
- Perspiration always pays. If you don’t put in the time to figure out a complex thought, the reader won’t. Einstein once said something similar to, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand the subject well enough.” It takes a great deal of hard thinking at the front end to generate hard copy that reads well and conveys a clear message on the back end.
- A portfolio is accumulation of proof. It’s really too bad that many portfolios are judged by the cover. And I don’t mean the leather binder. I’m referring to the first and second pieces in the queue. Many without real substance behind the “flash” pieces ride them into high places. Then, firmly ensconced, lead others tirelessly by convincing them they can achieve anything so they can sit back and do nothing. Yet, you can only control what you can control. The more you do, the more you should have to show for it.
- Preservation is natural. Insulation is not. There is a natural evolution from the perspiration that goes into the early stages of a career and the accumulation of work that results. From there, trying to hold on to what you’ve accomplished — preserving your status and position is a basic instinct that’s generally a good thing. However, acting to insulate is not. Those who do often begin attacking others and shooting down bigger ideas. I’ve never believed that you raise yourself up by pushing others down, but it happens all the time. Some make fairly distinguished careers at it and then act condescendingly toward others as a consequence.
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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