Endlessly stretching what I know
A blog by the great copywriter, Dave Trott, has got me thinking about two things – one, about what’s important for my family; and two, why I love being a marketing agency copywriter.
This simple entry in Dave Trott’s weekly musings about his career, agency life and thought-provoking moments in his life, shared one line: “That’s why real freedom is knowledge.” It was the twist in his recollections about a binman where he grew up in Norfolk who’d won big on the lottery. He’d got cars, got drunk, got high, got laid, got arrested on the winnings, and then crashed back down to earth in the queue at the dole office.
Trott’s point was that because this binman had never applied himself at school, he’d never opened books, been interested in travelling or spoken to many diverse people outside of his friendship group. So when he won the lottery, he spent the money on the only possibilities in his head – he didn’t know there were possibilities beyond drink, drugs, cars, and women.
Trott closes his blog with a quote from another great copywriter. This time, he chooses the highest paid person in advertising, Mary Wells, who said her secret to success was:
“You can’t just be you. You have to double yourself.
You have to read books on subjects you know nothing about.
You have to travel to places you never thought of travelling.
You have to meet every kind of person and endlessly stretch what you know.”
…And that’s me when I write.
I rarely write as myself – I’m not prolific on social media and I don’t have a book deal in the making. But when I immerse myself in my clients’ projects, I endlessly stretch what I know. I read and read and read. I hunt down different points of view from colleagues, clients and family. I research the other side of the story and I can tell you absolutely everything there is to know about topics I know nothing about!
But the thing I love most, is once I’ve read, talked, scribbled and stared out of the window for inspiration, I turn all that knowledge and understanding into something that connects. Something that talks to our clients’ audiences in their own words. I’m not me when I’m writing. I’m a cake connoisseur who loves creating in icing; I’m a construction company CEO who knows how to inspire spaces and workforces; I’m a mental health worker who wants to rally change and captivate change-makers.
So, I might be sat at a desk and not traveling to places I never thought I’d travel. But, like Mary Wells, I have all the freedom in the world thanks to the knowledge that copywriting research gifts me.