Tag Archives: copywriting

Trade Tools: Get Mooing

Anyone who freelances knows that having a web presence is key… social plug-ins, community involvement, yadda yadda. But another detail that shows you’re the shit is having the right business cards. Especially here in Japan. (Hi. Yeah, I live in Japan now… but I still write for the U.S. so please don’t freak.) 🙂

Say hello to Moo. These are cards for creative people.

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Mashup your info in fun ways with their templates or, design from scratch.  In my case, I just used my own photos. I model too, so to cover both worlds, I upload a couple of different versions of my CPC logo and a bunch of modeling shots. Each card has a different image (up to 100). Fonts, colors, backgrounds… I wrote my name in Japanese and in English, then put the usual contact and social stuff.

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I use the mini-cards: 70mm x 28mm. I always get compliments from clients. Little is cute. It’s science.

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Mini-card case holder in hot pink… has a key ring too if you’re into that sort of thing.

Instant portfolio the size of a card case– BOOM. Oh and the clincher? They’re on thick, 16 point card stock and cost less than twenty bucks. At moo.com.

They didn’t pay me to write this. 🙂

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Filed under Fun Stuff, The Big Red Dot

The Professional/Creative Paradox or Why Writers Are Emotional Disasters

So a few weeks ago, I was up in Portland for meetings and received a text from my fellow writer and partner-in-office crime, Chelsi. She’s a dear friend and holds a mighty pen, and I don’t think she’ll mind me telling you that she’s also completely insane. Text reads as follows:

I’m leaving. Right now. I’m serious I can’t take this bullshit.

Hallway phone intervention. Turns out she was being pressed to rewrite and rewrite and rewrite pieces she had finished months ago, pieces that were finished, done, off of her desk and out in the world. That morning she had hit her limit.

Now from a practical perspective writers often recycle research, finished work, and text scraps for other uses, so the reworking request certainly wasn’t unreasonable, but a repeated request to do so without any end in sight will make a writer want to kick a hole through a door. But we have to do it, we know we have to do it, and we have to do it often… herein lies the tragedy of the desk writer. Writing anything worth reading requires some level of emotional investment, but conversely, professional writing requires a level of detachment. Birth a bouncing baby blob of text, drop it at the doorstep, and walk away. Then come back and look at it again. And then walk away again. Now come back. Now go. Some days it’s just not easy.

In a recent creative workshop, Eric Maisel spoke about the emotional and cognitive output required to create. The math is rough here, but it takes about twelve bazillion neurons to create meaning in any artistic endeavor. That meaning… whatever it is… is like crack to a writer. We write (or do any creative thing, really) to create meaning of some kind and when it’s fucked with we become bitter, emotionally bereft, sometimes even depressed.  I felt for Chelsi—she was about to blow and not completely able to express precisely why, other than she was seriously over it.

Chelsi’s super cute, but make no mistake. She will cut you.

 

So you might say getting upset over creative differences in the professional space is just taking things too personally, or being too sensitive about your writing and I’d say you’re probably wrong about that. If you love what you do and you’re pretty good at it, chances are you’re somewhat emotionally invested in it and getting pissed off is going to be part of that process. Now people can’t run around kicking holes in doors, but there are a few things writers can do to help things go smoothly when differences occur.

1) Be briefed. It’s tough to get a vague assignment and misinterpret the lack of direction as free reign, only to have the project plan completely change last minute. Sure, changes will happen along the way… agile business and all of that, but there’s a big difference between course correction and a total rebuild. Writers need to ask a ton of questions to be clear on project expectations and version deadlines.

2) Pick battles wisely. Collaboration is always a compromise, so know what you’re willing to change or remove and what you’re willing to fall on the sword for. If you’re going to fight for something, make sure it’s for the good of the project and not an evil match of wills.

3) Step away from the monitor. Gain clarity on your project by doing something completely different for a while. Working for too long on a piece that keeps landing back on your desk only frustrates you, so go do anything but that particular project. When I was in grad school there was a guy who’d literally put his fieldwork notes in the refrigerator to “cool off” before moving onto the next draft of his thesis (I called bullshit on this one because it sounded so lame but I’m told by reliable sources that it’s true). Whatever. Do what you gotta do…

So Chelsi didn’t leave that day, and in the end, she turned out her usual awesomeness that everyone was happy with. I think it’s always interesting when creative process and professional timelines evolve from a raging, amorphous blur into something new and hopefully unexpected. Painful, daunting, and ever so worthwhile.

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Filed under Writers on Writing

Punctuation botanica: thoughts on interrobangs and fresh tattoos

I’ve been mildly obsessed with punctuation since college. Learning about what to use, and when, took time (and I still go to the guides when a heated debate of dash use erupts at the office…).  How often–as with most forms of professional communication at least–less is so much more. For beginning writers, use of punctuation can be the textual equivalent to a child getting into Mommy’s makeup. But creative work? Go freaking bananas– in fact I love when I see writers and poets do cool things with astrisks and em dashes and ellipses.

Here’s my favorite scene involving the discussion of the “dot dot dot”, from one of my all-time favorite movies.

I could go on right now, about how punctuation is either a visual cue for the eye or a timing mechanism for the brain, but frankly that sounds pretty boring and not really what I wanted to talk about.  Fluidity, syntax, style… got it? Moving on.

I want to talk about tattoos.

I’ve been researching my most favorite punctuation for my next ink session and came across a super cool article on rarely-used marks.

This article has a few especially cool ones… which had me saying “interrobang” repeatedly just because it’s fun to say. Naturally I had to learn more so I went to my most favorite dubious source of information, and found a fine list of punctuation and usage.

My favorites so far:

The irony mark

The astrisk… although it seems a bit fashionable at the moment.

The one I really think is cool is the hedera… Latin for “ivy”.  It’s pretty and rarely seen today. Back when people actually wrote Latin, the hedera was used to block off large sections of text or long paragraphs. I studied Latin in college, but personally never came across this mark.

It’s pretty, timeless, less pedantic, and less obvious than the irony or other admittedly cool marks. There are lots of different variations too, from clean to frilly. I want one.

Now the question is… where does it go?

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Filed under The English Department, Writers on Writing

Propane is Blowin’ Up

One of my clients, Propane Studio, had a major Mad Men moment over the weekend: they needed a script completed for a project. These guys are seriously on the edge of what’s going on in user-experience marketing… so they were having what my Dad likes to call a “high-class problem.” They needed a lot of writing done in a short period of time because they have clients banging down their doors. (That would be scary, actually. I hope that’s not literally true.) So Propane’s Creative Director, Neil, rang me up.

I had worked with Neil years before, doing some corporate acting on a campaign he was working on (yes, I’m an actor too… jazz hands!), but this time he had a business script that needed a bit of edit work. He also wanted some voice-over action for a storyboard… so I quickly became a one-stop shop: writer, editor, researcher, and voice-over artist. I was excited because I knew these guys did awesome work, but their project people are also super cool and organized (bonus!), so I have to say… I was fired up.

We worked Mad Men-style* and wrapped it up this weekend. The result? A clean script, complete with fresh content, and an accompanying audio storyboard for the developers to transform into user-friendly marketing wizardry. AND I still got to go camping on Saturday afternoon. That’s what my Dad would call “okie-friggin-dokie.”

* By Mad Men-style, I mean we worked really late and early morning to get this baby out to market. No in-office boozing or cringe-inducing comments were used in the creation of this project.

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Filed under Stellar Clients