Anyone who writes regularly for paying clients will know that there are many restrictions on how you write and what you say. You’re writing to a brief and trying to achieve a few simple end goals – to sell a product or service, or to get potential customers to emotionally buy in to a particular company. In the case of speeches, you’re making sure that the speaker resonates with the audience, keeps them interested, informed and entertained, and that they go away with some memorable ‘images’ and a greater understanding of why they’ve been sitting there for the past 45 minutes or so.
None of this has anything to do with the writer’s own voice coming through. You are an invisible force; the more you can sound less like you and more like your client, the better. So, that’s the mortgage paid then, but how do you stay fresh, particularly as your personal vocab becomes increasingly occupied by the business jargon you have to use and the lack of personal interest in the subjects you cover?
The answer is you spend as much time as you can on your ‘freestyle’ writing: personal pieces that you create that have no such boundaries and allow you to roam freely through your imagination.
When I have a heavy commercial schedule underway, I am all too aware of how little attention I pay to spending time simply experimenting with writing copy where nobody but me decides on subject, style, length, tone, rhythm and all of the other things that keep a writer in tune with their craft and creativity. That’s what this blog is about. It’s a little bit of ‘me’ time.
Freestyle writing maintains my enthusiasm for arranging words into something original and meaningful. I enjoy being a commercial writer, but one can’t help but get a little cynical about the business of writing for business – especially when I don’t have the luxury of only working for clients in whose products and services I totally believe (prostitution is not the oldest profession in the world; it’s copywriting, but the two share so many similarities that they’re virtually interchangeable). To save myself from going to hackdom in a handcart, I make sure I spend time freestyling as well as freelancing. It’s good for me, but it’s good for my client too.