Confession: I am taking a copywriting class here in San Francisco. A class about writing ads. It’s not academia as I know it, though there is definitely a workshop component to the class.
The writing produced is different from fiction in many ways, and the experience only increases my respect for the depth of artistry demanded in writing fiction. Still, copywriting is a skill of its own.
What strikes me most about the class, so far, is the dynamic between students responding to one another’s work. Maybe it’s because advertising is a collaborative field that relies on professional networks (though this could be said of many fields), but there’s a feeling that one person’s well-wrought line of copy doesn’t just benefit that person, but all of us. That line contains an idea we can all work with and be inspired by.
I owe much to the fiction-writing workshops I’ve taken over the years. But too often there is a feeling that each person is on his or her own, or that there are little teams of two or three students who adhere to the same aesthetic and don’t much care for the work of those writing in different styles.
I’ve definitely contributed to this dynamic. I’ve been overly sensitive and taken things personally. But I’m happy to say that I’m learning something new in this class, not just about working with words, but about ways of being a writer and interacting with others who write. It’s a fresh experience, and far from dulling my mind with hackneyed lines, it’s sharpened my sense of words in a way that only heightens my appreciation for literary writing.