By Jem Bauermeister
I’m a writer
I’ve been suffering badly from performance anxiety when it comes to writing. I’ve even been missing SCABs because of it. I recently started working with Martin who’s an incredible Art Director which means I’m flexing my word arrangement muscles a lot more than usual. I came here as an Art Director mainly because I had more practice in it but since the start of the course, I’ve wanted to give copywriting a go.
New Blood was nerve-wracking, our responses to the briefs we chose required lots of individual executions. I was terrified my writing wouldn’t do our ideas justice.
I spent a lot of time showing my work to other students. Scripts were hacked apart, typos were pointed out, stories were rearranged and every single criticism hurt. Every “meh” hurt more. I want to say I’m good at taking it, but I silently wasn’t. Words matter to me, it’s not that Art Direction doesn’t. But for some reason having my words picked at was so much more painful.
I came across questions I’ve not had to face before.
How do you know the difference between a conviction for what’s right and coveting a line that you’re unwilling to kill?
How do you know what tense to write in?
How do you know what your line really says to another person who doesn’t know your idea like you do?
On Friday Marc played us an interview with Jimmy Carr about writing jokes. He still writes about 2000 for every 50 that he uses. He still tests his out in front of audiences and not all of them make the cut. That means he still fails sometimes.
For a moment I felt encouraged. For a moment I thought I had the answer. Practice. I was ready to give it a go. But words can build and words can break. Four words broke me that Friday evening. Another student said, “you’re not a copywriter”. Perhaps it was just a passing comment. Perhaps thought wasn’t put into it. I don’t know. But it was a twist of the knife. It really wasn’t what I needed right at that moment when I was only just learning to stand.
And so I fell.
The next 24 hours were full of self-doubt. I don’t want to say it was because of the comment. I want to say that I didn’t let it get to me. Perhaps I was feeling rubbish anyway and it came at the wrong time.
I may never be able to tell a story like Darius or incite emotion like Holly or take on a tone of voice like Josh or sell like Nick or entertain like Phil or involve an audience like Poppy or describe as visually as Philly or pack so much meaning into one line or even one word like Sara or write like any of the other incredible copywriters. But I can write. I have access to the same words. Writing is the most democratic practice in the world.
And the only way we get good at it is by constantly taking our craft and putting it out there. And it HURTS when we don’t win. It really kills us.
But whatever happens, nobody can tell me I’m not a writer. Because that’s one thing I will always hold on to. From the moment I picked up a pen to tell stories about sticky pine needle hair and poaching rabbits as a kid, that’s when I became a writer.
Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect isn’t what I’m looking for. Great is. Better is. Better every day which reassuringly means nobody will ever be the best.