Although I’m now the full-time operator of my own book editing and design business, before that I spent a few decades as a writer for companies and a university. I think my day-job writing has informed and strengthened what I do now as an author, editor, and designer. Maybe you have a similar story in progress.
I started out as a writer of programmed-learning training materials for State Farm Insurance in Bloomington, Illinois—think the driest technical writing ever. I soon transferred to the advertising department where I learned that writing can be fun and that I was good enough to be paid for it. Thank you, day job.
That led to the advertising agency world in Chicago as a copywriter. I eventually became a senior VP and the agency creative director for a mid-sized national agency. Thank you, day job.
Writing advertising—and particularly TV commercials—helped me learn to simplify and condense complex information into easy-to-understand language and visuals that were imminently approachable. More than that, I think, it trained my writer/editor eye to look for the best words to use to deliver maximum clarity, meaning, and emotion. This has benefited not only my writing but my editing, too, where I can help other writers craft the strongest narrative. Thank you, day job.
During that time I became interested in screenwriting and worked on scripts in my spare time, although all that brevity training did have a funny impact on my first screenplay. By page 9 I had told almost half the story. Unfortunately, screenplays need to be about 120 pages. This led to weaning myself from the tight-tight-tight scripting that 30-second commercials call for and the expanded vision demanded by screenwriting—and, ultimately, novels. [Read more…]