Tentatively optimistic of Hampshire

It really is the New Year, end of January and its bitter outside. How are you? I hope you’re keeping warm and safe and not feeling too depressed by lockdown 3.0. I’m interested to hear if you’re approaching things differently this year knowing we’ve been here before. I’m wrapped up and can be found mainlining tea in my office although I’m feeling optimistic. This year has got off to a much better start than I predicted.

I started my copywriting course, finally! Rather than squander our second week off at Christmas, Pete and I decided to have a little structure of sorts. Wake up, though not before 10am because you know, we were on holiday, breakfast, train, lunch, social media/news catch up, followed by a couple of hours of both of us studying. And we stuck to it. I’m struggling to wake up early after having so many lie-ins though.

There was something quite pleasing seeing us both study and work together to achieve our dreams. I sat in one area of the sitting room, Pete the other; headphones in and off we went. I made a dent in my course, covering topics I knew already, and others I didn’t. It also made me reflect on the web copy I developed last year, rethinking the way I would have approached the copy if I had to do it again.

I’m nearly at the end of the course and focusing on homework; one piece I must nail is coming up with a ‘spec ad’ in collaboration with a designer. This could be a banner ad, poster or leaflet co-developed by me and a designer for a brand I choose. The idea is that if I want to work as a copywriter, I need to showcase my writing but without any paid copywriting work under my belt it’s a bit tricky. I have a number of examples of creative writing, but I need more copywriting experience than just my web copy examples. The spec ad needs to be designed and written in the same style and tone of voice of the brand I choose so that if a prospective employer or client saw it, they wouldn’t be able to tell whether it was real or not. Ergo showcasing how well I have captured the tone of voice of the brand, and the designer’s creative skills.

What I have found interesting doing this course is the sometimes-conflicting advice I’m receiving. I follow an award-winning copywriter, Kate Toon, who I think I’ve mentioned last year. Listening to one of her podcasts, she and her co-host copywriter don’t agree that you need a spec ad to start out and be noticed; they feel a blog has more clout. Kate says she generates a lot of her business from people who have read her blog, rather than her portfolio.

I am torn, because I do find myself more drawn to Kate’s way of working, style and she has more experience than my current tutor. I am however going to do the spec ad, if only to see what it’s like working with a designer, and how hard I find it. Because I’m still a bit dubious that writing copy for banner, ads, posters etc. is for me!

To do the ad justice, I need clear space in my diary, and hold on to your hat’s folks, I’ve managed to obtain approval for my 4-day compressed week! I honestly didn’t think it was going to happen especially as I was starting a new role, but the new boss is impressed by my work ethic and thinks it’s achievable. What a relief. It’s now all systems go, no more excuses for me.

Another area I need to focus on is beefing up my social media presence. I made a concerted effort one weekend to do more on it, and oh my gosh doesn’t social media marketing swallow up your day before you know it! I spent nearly 4 hours re-doing my Facebook business profile, linking it to my business Instagram account, which has been renamed @staffordwrites. I researched the best scheduling tool (Later) to schedule my posts to both accounts, developed content and built on an idea I had last year to showcase my work: ‘Thank You Thursday’. It’s aimed at giving coverage to brands I’ve worked with, both raising their profile and my writing, and I managed to get my first post created, scheduled and ready to go. I felt quite proud and satisfied at the end of it all. And needing a lie down.

Come Thursday though nothing had been posted. Zip, nada, rien. I wasn’t impressed. And although I’ve tried to fix things, I can’t schedule any posts via Later as it’s a FB issue. Whilst trying, unsuccessfully to fix the FB problem, I stumbled across their scheduling tool which does work, and while it doesn’t give me all the data Later does, I’ve spent way too much time on FB trying to fix it. It will have to do for now.

I’ve updated LinkedIn again and it seems to be creating more interest too. Do you remember my column from July? I discussed my thoughts on the job descriptions I was seeing on The Dots and one that had caught my eye – Chief Change Maker. Well, a Chief Change Maker contacted me about a prospective role as an Innovation writer. Unexpected and very much welcomed and I’ve responded. Even if it comes to nothing, the connection is a good one and who knows what might happen further down the line. I mean, to just know a Chief Change Maker is exciting.

While January started in lockdown, again, and the weather outside is either freezing or wet, this year, dare I say it, has the makings of a good year. I’ve a spring in my step and nervous excitement about possible opportunities. All I want now is a good dump of snow please!

We have big, beautiful brains. We invent things that fly. Fly. We write. We paint. We create.

I would like to start with the actual definition of art: art /ɑːt/ noun 1.the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

I personally believe that being an artist is much simpler, but requires honesty and focus and a way to express toughts and emotions. I believe that art is a reflection of feelings and emotion. If the artist is happy and excited, he will create something colourful and full of life, but if the artist is sad and lonely, the colours will be darker. I can compare this statement with a walk at an exhibition/museum and those extended minutes that we spend looking at THAT painting because THAT artist is communicating with us and he is sharing his story through his art. However, if we pay close attention to the piece of art, we can always harmonise with the emotions that is expressing.

As we all know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder as Margaret Wolfe Hungerford said, I have confidence that art can be found in anything that involves creativity such as writing a book, making a movie, painting, drawing, making music and many others. Everyone has different views for art, but the most important thing is the product or the end piece. I love to watch art. I love to write anything that is on my mind. I love to read books that other people created. I love to go to museums and exhibitions to explore famous or not so famous artists. I love to paint and relax my mind at the end of a rough day. What do you love to do?

It is all about the environment around us before we start creating. I have a small ritual before I start to write and I would invite any writer to try my easy steps for relaxation and creativity . Firstly, I like to take a cold shower, so I can refresh myself. Secondly, I will choose some cozy clothes to feel more comfortable. Thirdly, I will light up one of my favourite candles, respectively I will take a glass of fresh water and place it next to me, just in case I will be thirsty and I will not need to leave my place of writing and forget my ideas. The final step is to play meditation music and let my imagination flow.

As a new writer, my most challenging time is starting out, but when my imagination starts flowing, I can sit on my chair for hours and write until my ideas are consumed. I used to write short fictional stories and I never sent them out to be published. In the present, I am writing my own book related to my experience as a flight attendant and the adventures I have faced during my years of working as one. I would like to share them with my readers and especially with people who are interested in the aviation field.

As one of my favourite writers, Nicola Yoon said in her book “ We have big, beautiful brains. We invent things that fly. Fly. We write poetry. Thou art more lovely and more temperate’ in terms of sheer beauty. We are capable of big lives. A big history. Why settle? Why choose the practical thing, the mundane thing? We are born to dream and make the things we dream about.” I do believe every single word from this quote and I hope you do too, reader.