Copywriting, Creative Writing

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.

So … what about you? Have you participated in writing workshops? Do you have copywriting experience? I’d love to hear your thoughts about what being a writer among writers means to you. BlogSig


4 thoughts on “Copywriting, Creative Writing

  1. I’ve never taken a copywriting course, but I’ve always wished that my undergraduate or graduate program would have offered one. It’s what I do for a living now and I love it! I love the challenge of fitting a whole idea into the smallest character count possible. I love getting ideas super tight. I have to admit that I overuse the buzz word “Edu-tainment” – no shame, though. There’s power in advertising and I think it’s a GREAT exercise for all writers.


  2. This is so fascinating! I’ve never taken a writing workshop before because I’ve been completely intimidated by the idea, and now that I say that out loud it seems obvious that that’s the next comfort zone barrier I should work on breaking! This sounds like a really interesting way to begin work-shoping writing — my fear has been exactly that the focus would be on the individual work, which is so private and emotional to me. I think having a goal like 50 trial headlines and working as a team would help hone and grow skills without so much focus on the really personal writing. I don’t know if any of that makes any sense! But thank you for sharing 🙂 I’m going to look into this kind of class!


    • Yes, that makes sense! In this particular class, most of the other students were actually designers, but I think that’s another part of advertising that appeals to me–that most people think in terms of both words and visual design. Designers and writers work together and really appreciate one another’s skills. Copywriting was a nice way of targeting an audience yet still writing in my own voice, or a version of it. It was a really fun experience for me.


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