The World According to Renee

Views, Reviews, Randoms and More…

Everyone makes mistakes… right?

Several months ago, I criticised someone for a #spellingfail. Turns out, I was the one who was wrong, a fact the other person did not let me forget. I was criticised for it, then re-tweeted around the Twitterverse. Ouch. Suddenly the joke was on me, but I wasn’t laughing. I was actually quite hurt about it, that I could be so brain dead as to mix up one letter and change the meaning of a word (I got ‘complimentary’ and ‘complementary’ mixed up- it’s an easy mistake). It bothered me for a long time and I deleted my Twitter account for this and a few other reasons (such as, I still don’t quite get Twitter…)

Today, I read a quote from Joyce Carol Oates, from her memoir A Widow’s Story. She talks about the lonely life of a writer and the criticism they face; such is the nature of writing. I stepped back for a moment to think about that. She’s right, of course, we’re all criticised in myriad ways over the course of our lives. But when something is so close to us, so raw, so inherent plus we make a living from it, it hurts. Although writers pride themselves on having a good grasp of language, we’re only human. That’s why white-out and erasers were invented. And when something’s on the internet, it stays on the internet for everyone to see your mistake. So, how ’bout that criticism, hey?

FYI Twitterverse: thankyou, but I can tell the difference between affluent and effluent. If you need help in netiquette, let me know.

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March 15, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Confessions of a Copywriter

Dear world,

I am a copywriter.

With those few words, suddenly I’m in the spotlight. People look at my grammar and spelling and pounce when I make a mistake (they’re all typos, I swear!) Here’s a list of small confessions.

1. Wot’s grammar?
There are few people today who use exquisite grammar. There are fewer people who know what it is. In this day and age of internet and 140 character limits, grammar is a forgotten skill. I wonder if most people would recognise proper grammar if they read it? (Although I have several pedantic friends who definitely could…) The truth is, when a copywriter writes, they’re writing for the general public using everyday language that is easily understandable. There’s no point in writing exceptional English by the book if no one can understand it. By the way, I still have trouble remembering when to use its or it’s.

2. We make up Words
Oh noes! Who’s seen the latest ads for McDonalds’ M Selections menu? Here are two words that are used which aren’t actual words: Schmancy and Deluxier. Those were written by a copywriter who, presumably, knows they aren’t words in any dictionary. Personally, I’m not a fan of making up words and catering (ha!) to a nation of grammatical retards, but that’s an entirely different matter. (The “Schmancy” campaign recently won an advertising award in the UK).

3. Australian Spelling is Optional
This is something I’m trying very hard to come to terms with. Last week, my copywriting coach presented a piece of work she’s recently completed. I have no idea what the point of the presentation was because my attention was completely absorbed in one little word: personalize. I picked her up on it, asking why she’d used the American spelling. She explained that a few years ago, she was pedantic about using the UK/Australian spellings but only recently resigned herself to using American as well, and increasingly. She mused it was probably her software’s spell check that auto-corrected her S’s to Z’s to the point that she doesn’t even notice her spelling anymore. I’m not sure I will ever be that comfortable with using Z, but I’m certainly trying not to get so upset over it!

4. Breaking the Rules
In the first heading, you’ll see I’ve written “Wot’s”. Some words were meant to be played with. Recently, my sister asked if “agreeance” was a word, as in, “We’re all in agreeance”. Of course, the correct word is agreement but she argued agreeance sounds better. There are other silly words that I use regularly: bestest is probably the one that appears the most. I may even use that in a campaign at some point…

5. Everything is awesome, and don’t you forget it!
I got into trouble this week for saying what’s on my mind. Copywriting is all about making things sounding amazing and irresistible; you can’t possibly live without these products or services. A few months ago, I wrote a promotional piece about a diet shake. I’m not a fan of diet shakes and writing how amazing this one was proved to be a challenge. Earlier this week, someone asked what I thought about a new doughnut. I may have said something rather unflattering about it, likening it to something my dog may have done last week that is still un-picked up in the backyard. Unprofessional? Absolutely. Tactless? Certainly. True? I thought so. It’s not often people ask what I actually think about a product, so it’s refreshing to say something a little bit nasty occasionally.

Afterthought
I’m finishing an essay for uni today. It’s been a while since I wrote an essay. When I started, I really wanted to use bullet points to get my thoughts across (bullet points and white space are essential when writing web copy). It was interesting moving away from my copy writing into essay writing, felt like I was learning a new skill, using different parts of my brain.

Or is that brane?

April 1, 2011 Posted by | Copywriting | , , | 4 Comments