Am I wasting my creative juice?

November 23, 2012 at 6:29 am | Posted in copywriting | 41 Comments
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A heartfelt guest post from Kate Toon.

The other day, Kate Toon invited me to guest on her blog. This was tremendous fun. Even funner, Kate has kindly returned the favour. And she’s chosen a topic dear to my (and quite likely your) heart. Take it away Kate!

As a writer I have what many people think is a dream job.

My office is the local café where I sip cappuccino and eat muffins.

I stay cosy at home while you commute to work in the rain.

Sometimes I wear my pajamas all day.

The only meetings I have are with my dog Pamplemousse.

“I’m a writer,” I tell people at dinner parties.

“Oh,” they reply, a look of new-found respect spreading across their face.

And I get to bask in the glow of their admiration for several seconds until they ask the next question.

“What do you write?”

Then I find myself muttering something about advertising and shuffling my tagliatelli around my plate until the conversation moves on.

The truth is I’m not a writer. I’m a copywriter.

I write websites, emails, ads and brochures for cold hard cash. I write about bins, drainage and insurance. I write for all those large corporations we love to hate. And though I absolutely love what I do, there’s a part of me that will always wish I were really Dorothy Parker.

But of late I’ve found myself writing less and less for myself. I just don’t feel I have enough oomph left at the end of the day to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and start being genuinely bum-clenchingly imaginative and creative.

And here’s why: I firmly believe that each day you wake up with a set amount of creative juice in your system – like a fresh, moist lemon, ripe and ready.

But as the day progresses you use up that creative juice. Writing that text message, those emails, that shopping list and of course the 112-page mobile website copy deck – they all use up your juice until your lemon is drained completely dry.

Of course I’ve dabbled in ‘real writing’, but I long to write a proper book, a feature film, a full-length play, something that I can be remembered for. I mean, I know I did a damned fine job on the Kmart Tyre and Auto website, but it’s hardly something my grandkids will be boasting about.

Unfortunately I just can’t get my teeth into anything that lasts longer than 10 minutes.

You see, after a day of correcting typos in 15 financial emails, or reformatting 96 product descriptions for a luxury gift site, I have nothing left. My nouns and verbs are weary, my adjectives floppy and my prepositions discombobulated.

Perhaps it would be different if I were a personal trainer, a plumber or a pilot.

If I spent my day using that other bit of my brain, the doing bit, then perhaps the writing bit wouldn’t end up being so bloody exhausted. Yes, for sure – if I were a Traffic Warden I’d happily come home to write for a few hours.

But I tried to do a not-writer type job. I trained as a masseuse a few years back and rather enjoyed it in theory. The reality of oiling up malodorous humans wasn’t quite as appealing, however, so that career was short lived.

So it seems by finally finding my dream job, I’ve actually scuppered my writing dreams. Which is frankly a touch depressing.

What do you think? Is it possible to write all day for money and then write all night for love?

Can you think of a way I can recapture my creative mojo? Any advice or experiences muchly appreciated.


Kate is an award-winning SEO and advertising copywriter with over 18 years’ experience. She’s also a well-respected SEO consultant, information architect, strategist, hula hooper and Creme Egg lover based in Sydney, Australia.

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