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Opinion: There are three kinds of writers.

2 August 2017

Jason Hollamby, Creative Director, Cummins&Partners Adelaide reckons writers find their way into advertising from many angles. Whether they’re English-lit snobs, would-be journos or homeless street poets, the range of styles, influences and outputs is infinite. But there are only three kinds of writers. If you’re signing up for AdSchool’s Copywriting course, have a think about which kind of writer you are; mostly because it’s good for you to know but also because I’ll ask.

The Idea Writer.

They prefer a couch to a laptop. Their props are a pencil or texta (not a ballpoint), a blank unlined notebook, mug and an ironic/hip cardigan or jumper. Ideas, not words, are their peccadillo. They’re idea flashers, categorising then targeting people around them to see who will ‘get it.’ A definite “no” or vague “…yesss” is bad, but a definite “yes” isn’t much better because their deeply internalised paranoia is running amok. They keep a bottom drawer of concepts previously cast asunder by ruthless and insensitive overlords. The drawer is a preservation chamber that holds ideas in perfect suspended animation. Like Walt Disney’s head, it’s pulled out for answers in moments of panic. They’re generally unfit but make time to run from long-form copy and briefs of more than a single A4 sheet. The USP is a punching bag. Numbers and charts are stupid. Target markets are as legitimate as Bigfoot. They keep curious collections of nothingness around them. In mid-conversation they vague-out to search the sky for insights attached to a real human emotion. But somehow it works.

There is the Writers Writer.

This is the writer who lives to write. The only light or warmth they need comes from the glow of a computer screen. Writing is their reward and being paid is a bonus. They suffer for writing but they do it quietly and don’t argue much. Being able to write all day then go home to flex their real creative muscle in private is almost ideal. Almost ideal, because they still have to dress for work in some semi-appropriate way the next day. In private they write features for street magazines and live a secret pseudonym-protected blogger’s lifestyle. They prefer it when everyone else is asleep. They are loyal to words and to those who let them write words. They are articulate and have a reasonable grasp of grammar. They can spell. They keep reference books and delight in phraseology. An email takes forever. They keep a curiously gloomy desk figurine for comfort. Arranging words into a sentence is a form of time travel; years pass and their heart rate slows to a beat-a-minute. We’ll inhabit Mars before they find their way out of the inky black ocean of words at their disposal. They ask too many questions. But again, it works.

The Sometimes Writer.

This writer loves going to shoots and dissecting ideas, that they’ve seen. They share clips about activations. They keep one eye on David Droga and the other on a new burger place that’s already begging for a brand refresh. They finish conversations with “I guess anyone can have a great idea” and “you can use that if you like, just kidding” and “but hey, I’m not the writer.” They’re hyper-caffeinated multi-tasking chameleons. They’re not sure about writing as a job but it’s a part of life and they like it for no reason – they actually don’t know, so don’t ask. They play instruments and watch all the movies, all of them. They store curiously catchy ringtones on their never-silent Samsung Galaxy. They are not-quite-annoyingly optimistic and score the best parks at industry functions. They check their spelling on Google. They clog up newsfeeds and take pictures of everything. They’re the first to pitch in at night or on weekends, just in case they’re needed or even if they’re not. And, as with other writers, it somehow works.

Regardless of what kind of writer you want to be, my advice is always the same. First, find your love of writing and making time for it will come without trying. Along the way you’ll have great ideas, learn the craft and know precisely when to pitch in.

The AADC would like to thank Jason for taking the time to share with us and the Adelaide Creative Community.

If you’d like to contribute your knowledge, news, views and opinions about the industry please email us at – we’d love to share your story.

Jason Hollamby, Creative Director, Cummins&Partners Adelaide will be presenting a Copywriting Course for AdSchool in August. For more information visit AdSchool Adelaide.