Copywriting Is by Andrew Boulton (Gasp! Books)

You’ll feel like you’ve been given an awful lot of words in order to write just a few.

You’ll feel like a lot of people (who aren’t copywriters) think they can do what you do.

You’ll feel like you’re breaking loads of writing rules.


I read an interview once with the novelist Nelson Algren where he said this:

“The writer who knows what he’s doing isn’t doing very much.”

The knowing, or not knowing, of stuff has preoccupied me one way or another for the entirety of my creative life.

The early expression of this fixation with knowledge was in direct opposition to Mr Algren…


Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobiasbegemann/

At this point, I find the most useful copywriting advice I give is to simply share the dependable counsel offered by other writers.

But while all the most useful instructions for writing better copy have been shared and shared again, ours is a profession that — like a child on…


Illustration by John Clemmit

I couldn’t explain why exactly, but creative people seem, in my experience, more dependent on heroic figures than most.

Perhaps it’s to do with the nakedness of the creative life — where you expose your most personal efforts to the world again and again. …


Photo credit: David Orban https://www.flickr.com/photos/davidorban/

My A-level choices were made thusly: Geography (because we got a week’s trip to Poole). Psychology (because I had/have a debilitating Agent Mulder Complex) and English (because I liked books).

In many ways, all three have benefited me as a copywriter (who now also teaches other people to be copywriters)…


The downside to teaching on a Creative Advertising course is, quite simply, the envy.

How can these students know so much? How can they be so endlessly curious? How can they be not only creatively adventurous but strategically perceptive. …


Photo credit: Kiran Jonnalagadda https://www.flickr.com/photos/jace/

Chasing perfection is like digging a hole. It has no point, it has no end and it only serves to take you further away from the world.

There is no honour or glory in perfectionism — it’s no more heroic than any other task that diverts you from a truly…


Credit: Scott Lamoreaux — https://www.flickr.com/photos/lamluxe/

George Clooney is a likeable man. He is handsome and well-dressed. He is charismatic and self-effacing. He uses his privilege to do good in the world. He was decent enough to force Hollywood into dramatically rethinking the sort of Batman films that should be made.

And yet, his Nespresso adverts…


Photo credit: Amazing creative team (available for hire!) Brad & Josh https://www.bradandjosh.co.uk

Copywriting is knowing who to ignore.

It’s never letting any word seduce you.

It’s the fear of the predictable.

It’s the physics of desire.

Copywriting rarely begins at the beginning.

And ends somewhere you don’t see.

Copywriting is rifling pockets.

It is snuffling for treasure.

Copywriting is a microscope strapped…


Photo credit: Pat Joyce, Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/phatcontroller/

Typically, I would feel like a hideous fraud offering advice to anyone about anything.

But, with these five terrible copywriting habits, the fact that I have/do/will always suffer from them, makes it all a little less awkward.

Copywriting, in my experience, is a series of brutal humiliations punctuated by punctuation.

Andrew Boulton

Senior Lecturer in Creative Advertising at the University of Lincoln & Copywriter

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