Yesterday, I explained why Rogue Ink is a pub, and not a business blog. I explained that clients are welcome in the pub, so long as they can handle my foul-mouthed patrons. Today, I’m going to explain why you guys, my readers, want to hang out in my pub despite my lack of business-blogness (other than the pro-cursing policy, and Brett shouting ‘Naked!’ a lot in my comments). I shall begin with the following:
I loves me the link love.
The pub is packed tonight. Harrison‘s sitting at a table with me, teaching me how to read tarot and discussing why Hondas and the Sagittariuses who ride them are just better. Kelly Erickson‘s putting quarters in the jukebox and Tony Lawrence is showing her how override the fifteenth round of ‘Piano Man’ that I put in there. Carrie Lowery‘s smoking what appears to be a meerschaum and Janice Cartier‘s trying to get Allison to hold still for her painting ‘Nude with Sushi.’ Karen Swim just got ahold of Steph Vandermeulen and is guiding her into the Realm of Endless Cheerful Sunshine in which Karen lives (seriously, follow the woman on Twitter. She is an amazingly cheery person. In the mornings, no less). Amy is telling the Deep Friar that I’m her long-lost twin, and the good friar is smiling and nodding, which is wise when you’re talking to Amy, and James is knitting Brett a new kilt because his got shredded in a swordfight with me. There’s a whole lotta random going on.
Nobody is here at the pub looking for practical advice about running a copywriting business. And here’s why.
When I Am Useful, It Is Entirely By Accident
Writing clean, concise, well-organized copy is what I do all day for a living. I don’t want to do it when I’m off-duty. I will tell you right now that I never sit down to write a post with a clear take-away point in mind. You know that weird spinny, vaguely nauseous feeling you get when you’re done reading one of my posts? (Don’t lie. I know you do.) That’s what it feels like in my head ALL THE TIME. By the time I wind up at the end of one of these posts and it sums up nicely, I am as surprised as anyone.
In my business, I write with a beginning, middle, and end. I have an article due tomorrow for the SF Chronicle, and it’s going to have all its article-pieces in place. It will have a lede, and a nut graf, a solid body, and probably a good little kicker in the final paragraph. And yes, I know what all of those things mean, and no, I am not going to explain them now.
Although if you want to talk about how ‘nut graf’ sounds dirty, I am down for spending some serious time on that activity. We denizens of the Rogue Ink Pub are creative folk, and I am betting that many of you are unable to resist constructing a joke featuring the words ‘lede’, ‘nut graf’, ‘solid body’, and ‘kicker’. Don’t fight the urge. Give in. Whoever makes the best dirty joke involving those words, I will officially buy them a drink. No, I am not kidding. A real one. PayPal was invented for purposes just such as these. Ten bucks to the winner. Spread the word.
The point is (see how these tangents happen?), I may not be useful every day, or even most days. I’ll talk about writing, and running a business, because that is more or less what my life consists of right now. I hope that following me around on that path teaches you something, or entertains you. It won’t be a straight path, though. I am going to go down side roads and I am going to hijack you and make you come with me. I’ll try to take you through some pretty scenery. Or at least a funny word or two. Like ‘biscuit’ or ‘monkey’.
Heh. Biscuit monkey.
I Don’t Want to Talk Business.
I don’t want to tell you how to write a good press release today. I’ve been writing press releases all day. Some other day, when I’ve been writing, oh, I don’t know, instructions for toothpick boxes, I will tell you how to write a press release, and it will be hilarious stuff, because I will not at that moment want to stab the inventor of the press release through the eye with a plastic spork. Or I will at least be better able to resist the urge. Actually, no, no I won’t. If I ever have a really good reason to attack anyone with a plastic spork, I believe I will succumb to this temptation. It would take a better woman than I to resist a good Spork Attack.
I can tell you the dumb stuff people try to do with their press releases. I can tell you all of the secret things for which I wish I could write press releases (spoiler: the Guiness Book of World Records and my pinkie toe feature rather largely). I can tell you if the press release I wrote for my own business bombed horribly. PLEASE do not expect serious guidance on how to write a good press release in my pub. If you really want that information, come to the office, Good Ink, and I will write one for you. It will be great. I won’t be able to explain how it happened. Which brings me to . . .
I Cannot Make You A Better Writer
I thought a lot about this one, and I sincerely believe it is true. If you want to become a better writer, you should read, listen, and write, and you should do all of them a LOT. My diagramming out the components of writing structure will never make you a good writer. My high school English teachers used to hate me, because I never screwed up my grammar or misspelled a word, and yet I could not diagram a sentence. Still can’t. I CAN tell you when it is WRONG. What is wrong is generally funnier than what is right. Let’s go for funny, shall we?
THIS IS WRONG. NEVER DO THIS. NOT IF YOU ARE IN CHARGE OF SIGNAGE IN ENGLAND. IF YOU ARE TWITTERING, THEN FINE, I FORGIVE YOU.
I do. I forgive you. But the phoenixes are still PISSED.
The War on English exists because bad writing hurts me. Right here, in my Sad Place. Good writing is important to me, but this does not mean that I can explain it. In fact, trying to explain how to write well makes my head hurt. Douglas Adams said the secret to flying was simply to fall down and miss. The secret to good copywriting? Don’t be boring. I can say it many different ways, but that will always be the essence of my copywriting advice. Boring people suck. Do not be one of them.
I Am An Ignorant Wench
I don’t know the 12 Steps to Success. I am busy drowning in the Wading Pool of What-the-Hell-IS-All-This? I am here to tell you the story about the Happy Man, to rant about lumberjacks or running the perfect con. I am here to entertain you as best I can while keeping my head above water, trying to turn a talent for writing into a solid business. I think that freelancing is a fucking amazing life, and I hope my little rants and anecdotes make those of you who are stuck in your nine-to-fives psyched about quitting one day. Tomorrow’s a good day for that, by the by. Or today. Today is good. The pub will cheer you when you come see us tonight.
One day I will actually have a pub. I will call it the Laughing Rogue (or, if my Tessa has her way, the Lusty Weevil), and I will invite all of you amazing entrepreneurs, nine-to-fivers, dreamers, Quakers, bakers, candlestick makers, and yes, really brave clients, to come and hang out in it and discuss writing and freelancing and life. Until then, I have this blog, and that’s pretty great too. I’m glad you’re all here.
Subscribe. The night is young.