Since the pandemic hit the UK I’ve not been minded to write about copy and content much at all.
I have some great clients, and feel lucky that while some work has been cancelled (the beloved writing retreats, sob), and other projects put on hold or sailed away, I’ve met some spine-tingly good people who are working on ways to help people live healthier, greener, more socially-conscious lives. And I get to help them with the words. Which is exactly what I love to do.
But my own writing has taken more of a reflective turn. Ideas for blogs dried up, but ideas for journalling, just writing, playing with words, sitting and noticing and jotting, that’s been where it’s at. I think I need a place to roam through the maze of my thoughts and feelings, to untangle the yarn a little by pulling at threads. That’s what writing does for me.
In my Facebook Group, ‘The Copy Kitchen’ I’ve been sharing weekly writing prompts to help people connect into themselves and the world around them. Short, 15-20 minute slices of time to be playful with words. We use pictures, poems, one-liners, lists – and we let it happen. I find writing lets me take a sideways look at myself and my world, and always, pretty much, I surprise myself with what comes up. 15 minutes, a mug of coffee, some deep breaths out. It’s always worth it. Please join us in there if you’d like to.
And, to get back to the point of this blog, I’m increasingly noticing the overlap between writing for business – producing the words that connect with people and get them to take notice – and writing for self – producing the words that connect with ourselves and get us to take notice.
Which makes sense, really, doesn’t it? To connect with words, we need to build a bridge between ourselves and our readers. Since the very start of Red Tree Writing I’ve talked about compassionate copy for business. For me, compassionate copy means three things:
- kindness to yourself: writing honestly, no pretence, with honour and love for what you do and how you do it
- kindness to your reader: listening to where they are coming from, stepping into their world, showing you understand
- connecting the two: making it clear and easy for readers to see how what you do helps them.
It sounds simple, and it can be. But often, it’s not. And one of the reasons it’s not is because we fail to do the first bit – to really, properly show kindness to ourselves, to build a loving relationship with ourselves. One reason people hire copywriters is for their magic with words, sure (and it’s not to be under-estimated, the power of words woven well).
But another, often unnoticed one, is that other people can see our own magic when we take it for granted. Or, in other words, a copywriter will shine a light on your strengths where you won’t, because you either feel embarrassed to or because you don’t think they’re important.
If we don’t have an honest and loving relationship with ourselves we pull ourselves up short. We can still write, sure, but we take the heat out, or we take ourselves out of the scene entirely. We worry what people might think, how we might be received, or we put on a mask to try and show up on the page as we think we need to be, rather than as we are. And that turns up the beige on our words. It rings false.
So I count my personal, reflective, creative writing practice (which includes journalling, yes, and then some) as an essential business activity. My brain needs playtime, and that’s what writing is for me. When I spend time with my notebook and a cup of tea in the morning, I feel more alive. I feel more connected to myself, I feel more creative and more able to take risks. I feel both bigger and smaller – big enough to take my place in the world and small enough to see that the world has so much to show me, I have so much to learn. It’s exciting. I feel like the snail in ‘The Snail and The Whale’ (a book worth reading, whether you have children around you or not).
Compassion first. Always. That’s where your writing comes from, whether it’s for your work, for yourself, as a creative outlet, a therapeutic or a money-making one.
I have been mulling and crafting the concept of ‘Wordspill’ for a few months now. It’s shifted forms several times in my head, but essentially it’s a series of writing and sharing activities that help you use words to find out more about yourself, what you dream about, what you fear. And it helps you move from writing to doing, the words spill from your notebook into action – whether that’s in shaping new habits, or launching new businesses.
I will be running a month-long trial in June (nothing like a short deadline to get things moving!). As it’s freshly new, it will be just £30 for the month – £1 a day. I’ve not got my act together with a sales page yet, so if you want to know more, either join me in The Copy Kitchen which is where I mostly hang out online, or send me a message and I will get more Wordspill details to you asap.