Another FAQ I get is “How did you get into copywriting?” We copywriters come from a variety of backgrounds; in my case, heritage and tourism. This probably explains why my original influence is an unexpected one – a little-known figure from the Middle Ages.
The itinerant scribe. These chaps (I’ve never heard of a female one) set up their little stalls at markets and Ye Olde Fayres, and offered their scribing services. They’d write anything (I’m resisting the urge to add “dot.com” to that). Legal documents, formal letters, I like to think informal letters too, notes for loved ones… I could do that! I thought. But I could do it, like, in these days! Not in a market! Indoors! With a laptop!
When I was deciding what career route to take, freelance writing seemed the obvious choice. I’ve always written. Whatever role I was in, I always got the writing gigs. From writing other people’s essays at school in exchange for contraband (don’t judge me) to the riveting “Checkout Evening Close-Down Procedure Manual” at A Big Supermarket, I always seemed to attract the wordy jobs. And then, during my Heritage Years, I was actually let loose on interpretation panels for visitors – and I loved it. So, with thousands of words behind me and the image of the little medieval scribbler in my mind, off I went.
Several years later, I still love it. I wonder if my medieval predecessor enjoyed the variety of his work. Like him, the contemporary copywriter will compose whatever the clients require – unlike him, we have discerning, educated clients who can actually read what we’ve written. I know that copywriting is not really a direct descendant of medieval scribing – but there is something rather wonderful to think of professional jobbing writers across the ages, metaphorically setting out our stalls and writing whatever you need.