After decades of writing marketing copy and content in every medium in our time-space continuum, I have been asked about my “copywriting process.” For visual learners, I try to capture it in this chart.
Study creative brief.
Ask for clarifications.
Feel sorry for myself and vow to quit copywriting forever.
Sit butt in chair and finally write for 3-4 hours.
Rinse and repeat until the copy is fantastic.
Get genuinely excited about presenting and producing.
Do so, then have knowledge of subject matter leave short-term memory forever.
My point of this almost-funny admission is this: procrastination (and even feeling sorry for yourself) can actually be part of the copywriting process. Because you are working during that time in the “red.” The subconscious is working. Always. So that when you return to the page, you’ve made more progress than you think. This tip can be boiled down to one thing:
Trust your process.
Walt Jaschek promises more process charts soon. Let’s hope his short-term memory holds out.
“Must…have…now!,” I exclaimed, as I whisked this 1978 Newsweek from atop a stack of vintage, disco-era magazines at a nearby Antique Mall. Cost: $1, same as cover price in ’78! Are you kidding? A deal to reveal… “TV of Tomorrow!”
I am mesmerized by the meticulously rendered M. Kunstler cover, with its Bruce McCall-like images of a nuclear family at play. But more so, I gasped at the cover’s eerie, uncannily accurate prescience regarding details of Our Modern Digital World.
Hold onto your Roller Derby helmet! This painting predicts:
1. Our ability to summon Uber and other ride-sharing services while tracking driver proximity.
Ah, numbered lists! As content, they’re proven link-bait; they’re merciful on readers’ eyes; and they’re an easy, go-to structure – maybe a little too “go-to” – for me and my fellow content writers. Here are 11 signs we might be addicted to writing list posts.
1. We keep a list of list posts we intend to write.
2. We tell our spouses or partners, “Here are six things you can do to turn me on tonight – and one you’ll have to figure out yourself.”
Q: Are you and your collaborators getting a piece of the action from the new movie “Paul Blart: Mall Cop?”
Q: Why is that?
Walt: Paul Blart: Mall Cop is not (as far as we know or can legally prove) based on Mel Cool: Mall Cop®, the long-running comicbook and web series created by Don Secrease and me in 1995, even though there was both a Mel Cool feature film screenplay and a cartoon series pilot script floating around Hollywood for years.
Q: What is your reaction to that?
Walt: Existential sadness mixed with raging anger.
Walt: No, I’m just playin’ with you.
Walt: I’m cool with it. Mel Cool with it. I’m philosophical about the whole thing.
Walt: Yes. In fact, let me put on this toga. [Rummages through a box of costumes, looking for the toga.]
Q: [While he does so.] But you just said there was a completed screenplay…
A. [Still rummaging.] There was. Cary Anderson and I wrote the story, based on the comic; Cary wrote the screenplay. Paul Fey produced. It’s a funny script. But in Hollywood, you gotta be your own agent and work the thing on a daily basis. I was in St. Louis, Cary is in Baltimore, and Paul has World Wide Wadio to run.
Q: Quit rummaging.
Walt: [Finds toga, puts it on.] Ah, here it is! My philosophy is, “live and learn.”
Q: All that for that?
Walt: “Live and learn.” To the victor, the spoils. That is, to the first one to actually get a star and a deal and Happy Meal tie-ins, the spoils. Have we gleaned nothing from “Entourage”? Next time we bring a comedy concept to Hollywood, we dig in like a pit bulls on amphetamines.
Q: You have more movie-worthy comedy concepts?
Walt: What, are you kidding me? I’d tell you, but…
Q: …you’d have to kill me?
Walt: [stares at him from an angle] No, but what an odd thing to say.
Q: [quickly changes subject] So: you’re not bitter about Paul Blart and you’re not suing?
Walt: No. I really think it’s just great comic minds thinking alike. The movie looks really funny, actually. Kevin James. He knows from funny.
Q: Any sales of your work in the wake of publicity from the movie?
Walt: We’ve sold one comicbook, one t-shirt, and made about 46 cents in AdSense revenue.
Q: So it looks as if you’re raking in some dough from the whole Mall Cop thing, after all.
Walt: Praise the mall gods. There are mall gods, you know.
Q: We believe you. Um, are you going to leave that toga on?