Daniel Day-Lewis is one of my favourite actors.
I remember watching My Left Foot and being blown away. He played a character (Christy Brown) with cerebral palsy, also feigning an Irish accent on top of that. Astonishing.
Similarly, Ben Kingsley has me in awe at the fact he played peace-loving Ghandi, but – in stark contrast – also played sociopath Don Logan in the film Sexy Beast.
Why am I telling you this?
Because copywriting is, by and large, all about acting – being someone else on the page.
Adapting to a new tone of voice means writing as anyone but yourself.
Therein lies the difference between a copywriter and someone who can just type or claims ‘I can write copy’ (that chip on my shoulder runs deep).
I had to adapt only last week. For the first time in months, I was working on a new client. I had to absorb their tone of voice guide (60 pages) and style guide (another 60 pages).
I finished reading them, ready to do battle – ready to write in the voice of this client, not my own.
My default tone is warm and conversational. The client’s tone was lighthearted, but not too chatty. I had to write as a toned down version of myself, while getting in standard lines that this client uses. I felt restrained, but at the same time – as always – enjoyed the challenge.
When I was at a low point, mentally, a wee while ago, someone said to me that I should probably take a break.
Because if you can’t quite work out who you are/you’re not sure of yourself, then you can’t write copy – you need to know your own voice to be able to write in a different one.
Some bits of copywriting are easy, some are difficult. Writing in a different tone of voice is one of the more difficult elements, but it’s fun. You get to act. You get to pretend.
Copywriting – be anyone but yourself.