Copywriter, emphasis on the writer

Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night. And sometimes, before I’m able to stop it, my mind starts racing, thinking those 3 A.M. types of thoughts that are rarely conducive to falling back asleep. Last night was one of those nights.

When I woke initially, I was thinking about my car. It’s currently is running horribly and the check engine light keeps turning on and off. I probably need a new one, but due to recent financial obligations (damn you taxes!), it’s not really the best time for me to make a sizable new purchase.

To get my mind off of this stressful situation, I started thinking about other things. First it was the painful loss my Jayhawks suffered in the Elite Eight on Sunday – that was hardly a better topic. Moving on, I at last settled on my portfolio and work (perhaps still not the greatest topic).

If you’re a writer or creative professional, you can probably relate to my situation: I sometimes suffer from portfolio envy and fear of creative inadequacy. It’s not that I doubt my abilities as a writer (in fact, I’m borderline arrogant about them), but rather, I feel like I haven’t worked on a lot of projects that allow me to really shine.

I have lots of friends who either are or were copywriters for ad agencies. When I look through their portfolios or their Websites on some great site like Prezi or Behance, I feel like they have these really cool, visually appealing pieces that are trendy and stylish. Then I look at my own portfolio, it’s full of brochures, email campaigns, banner ads, and journalism. To be perfectly honest, it’s not nearly so flashy.

Now sometimes this thought gets me down. But last night, perhaps in some subconscious effort to stop dwelling on the negative, I looked at this situation from a new angle.  What I saw was this: while my friends had the title of copywriter, they generally weren’t writing very much copy.  They’re not writers so much as they are conceptualizers.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not running anyone down. Conceptualizing is an incredibly important skill, especially for ad agencies. They need highly creative people who can come up with ideas for campaigns, then convey their visions to designers, and the client, and then eventually the consumer. But let’s be honest – there’s surprisingly little writing involved.

So what? Well, I realize that while my portfolio isn’t nearly as flashy or as attention-grabbing as some of my colleagues, it’s a different skill set I’ve demonstrated. I’m a copywriter, but one who actually writes copy.  And while I may still at times suffer from portfolio envy, it’s the knowledge that I’m a writer who actually writes, that will console me.


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