Thursday, July 9, 2009

So, what do you write?

When people ask what I do, I tell them I'm a writer (or sometimes, freelance writer). Looking a bit puzzled, they'll ask, "Well, what do you write?" My top-of-the-head answer is, "Everything!"

In a writing career spanning a couple of decades, it might be easier to say what I haven't written. Okay, I haven't written copy to go on the sides of big trucks. There.

What I have written, at ad agencies and as a freelancer, includes the following:

• Print ads and campaigns
• Radio and TV spots (and produced them)
• Website copy
• Web banners
• E-newsletters
• HTML e-mails
• Training video scripts
• Trade show materials
• News releases
• Brochures
• Graphic standards manuals
• Annual reports
• A children's TV show pilot
• A TV comedy pilot (Won an award, too.)
• Bus benches
• Bus signs
• Billboards
• Twelve :60 radio infomercials about horse racing
• Self-promotional postcards
• Product fact sheets
• Concepts for focus groups
• Satirical songs for an improv group
• Sketches for the same improv group (No, they don't make up absolutely everything!)
• A children's cookbook
• A novel (unfinished and now lost due to technological changes)
• Short stories
• Business articles for KC Small Business Monthly
• Non-fiction articles published in two books and one science-oriented magazine
• Weekly online news updates for a not-for-profit organization
• Blog posts
• Interviews
• Tattoos
• Just kidding about that last one.

Oh, yes. I did write copy for a seed packet that went into a direct mailer, too. The point is, a good writer should be able to do virtually any type of writing. The trick is tailoring your writing to the medium by which it will be distributed. That's where experience writing for lots of different products, services and media becomes important.

For example, communications on TV can be more purely graphically oriented than newspaper ads. Because TV has three characteristics that newspapers don't. The first is Z-axis, or depth. The second is motion. The third is sound. Put 'em all together, and you have a visually powerful way to present ideas to the audience. That is, if there's a strong strategy behind a great creative execution. But that's a whole other blog post. See "Creativity Without Strategy is an Empty Pinata," below.

By the way, some of my print samples are online, and I invite you to take a peek. You'll find them at

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