Time doesn’t stand still for anyone

First things first, and credit where credit’s due, I’d like a shout out to my fiancée, Pete, for getting me to sign up for a copywriting course. After two glasses of red wine, he decided bed was the better option at 20:30 on the first Friday in lockdown, because what else is there to do? I was left alone for two hours which, as we both work from home is a novelty so unimpressed with what the TV offered, and bored of scrolling through social media I spent the time researching courses, and signed up.

Because dear readers, would you trust a doctor with no medical degree or a tree surgeon without any qualifications? I only know how to write copy for websites, and even then, it was learning on the fly, and there’s a whole lot more to copywriting than that. I bet you’re all throwing your heads back in disbelief right now, saying “what did she think it was!” I hear you. I do. I knew it was more, but I think I’ve been in denial, rather like an ostrich with its head in the sand. Pete regularly talks about 2022 as our pivotal year; “I’m coming out of the Army after 24 years and moving into a new career, and you’ll be doing your copywriting.” Like it’s a done deal, simple. I always mumble something along the lines of “Yes, maybe. We’ll have to see what happens.”

So just as I’ve been badgering Pete to make sure he’s doing everything he can to prepare for his future, I need to heed my own advice. My career change won’t happen without me actively learning. I’m not sure why I thought it would. I don’t know how to write ads, brochures, nor understand the difference between print and online or the creative process involved. And if my part-time wish comes true, I’ll need to know as much as I can about copywriting.

Even though I knew it was the right thing to do, hitting the ‘sign up’ button for a course and seeing a chunk of money disappear from my bank account was a bit of a gulp moment. Have you ever felt the same? Heard your inner voice telling you loudly “it’s the right thing to do, why are you hesitating?” “What are you scared of?”

I’m scared of making the step-change in my career, of failing, of coming up with excuses (time, work) not to do a course that cost me quite a bit of money. I’m worried I won’t be able to build a portfolio that shows prospective clients I do know what I’m doing and anxious that I may not even want to be a copywriter after the course. I don’t have a plan B.

In the early days of my career change course when the topic of conversation turned to re-education, I always remember being a bit reluctant. One of the reasons is because of my financial situation; I’m not able to take a year out of work to study, and the other is due to the amount of time that has passed since I left university. I wasn’t the most diligent student, regularly swapping French lessons for a trip to Top Shop to pick a new clubbing outfit for the weekend’s rave (oh those were the days!). I’ve done a couple of day and week courses over the years, and of course, the career change course which I stuck to, but the copywriting course feels a significant commitment. It’s got a much higher price on its head if you know what I mean; the outcome could make a huge difference. If I don’t make time for it, my dream of becoming a copywriter might never materialise, and with that the kind of lifestyle I want. I could actively sabotage my future.

And what if Plan A doesn’t pan out and copywriting isn’t for me? I’m sure I’ll panic, cry and most likely exaggerate the situation thinking the worst. However, finding it out on a course must be better than with a client. Could you imagine turning out a shoddy piece of work and potentially ruining a reputation you’re just building?

I have realised that even though I thoroughly enjoy content writing, which is what this column is, I’m not that keen on pitching stories to magazines or publications. Although I did pitch this column, and the blog writing service I mentioned in my last column (client is interested by the way, but can’t quite afford it now) I don’t feel smart enough to come up with a unique pitch. I do know I’m creative enough to come up with intriguing headlines or catchy copy because it’s got me noticed in my current job.

I also don’t have to specialise only on copywriting; I’ll genuinely welcome a blend of copywriting and content writing as they require different approaches and achieve different outcomes. Good copywriting aims to elicit an immediate response from its audience, generate sales and establish the image or raise awareness of a product or company. Content writing informs a reader and builds a relationship with them, which I hope I’ve done with you through this column. And we’re on column six! Time seems as though it’s passing more quickly in this weird COVID life, like being in Tardis.

And I don’t want to end on a sad note, but the saying ‘life is short’ was brought home to me when a friend of mine died recently after her fight with cancer. Rebecca was only 42, but boy did she have a great life. She jumped at opportunities, made things happen, took everything that life threw at her and said F**K You. Whilst we knew her diagnosis was terminal, it doesn’t make it any less painful, and when I found out, I went for a walk to clear my head. I walk in the countryside regularly, it’s a tonic for me, but this time I actively took life in. Bright green reeds moved gently in the flow of the stream; crows cawed in the trees and red kites swirled above. I felt and smelt what Rebecca can’t, the wind against my face and the smell of rain. I stared back at deer and wondered at a tiny bat who flew in front of me — it was a walk full of life which can end all too suddenly.

Rebecca wrote a blog* throughout her two bouts of cancer, and she wrote her last update in the event of her death. It’s titled “Over the finishing line”, and the accompanying image is of her waving a chequered flag in front of a poster depicting a Formula 1 racetrack (she was a huge F1 fan). Rebecca knew she would cross her finish line earlier than the rest of us, but generally, we don’t get a heads up of when we’re going to die. What would you do with your life if you knew you only had a couple of years to live? Would you travel the world and take on big adventures or spend time with close friends and family? I don’t’ know what I would do, but in all my hesitations, I can hear Rebecca telling me to ‘Just do it’. That well-known slogan of Nike, a company she’d dreamed of working with and luckily did. I can safely say she lived their brand slogan day in and day out.

While her last update is upsetting to read, there’s a line in it that resonates with me, “please don’t be sad for me, just re-channel that emotion into doing something amazing”. I can’t promise I won’t be sad, lovely lady, but I’ll try my hardest to do something amazing.

*If you want to read Rebecca’s candid and brilliantly written blog (she was a fantastic comms professional) visit buyabiggerbucket.com #boxyout

Motivate yourself!

Working at your own pace can prove to be quite difficult sometimes. When it comes to my creative endeavors I am my own boss, which means no deadlines, no briefs, no actual boss. I am naturally a very self-motivated person and I find myself doing multiple things at the same time. Thanks to the flexibility of my day job I can easily maneuver between doing my master’s degree, various courses (now it’s mental health, hr and pr courses) and planning to open yet another business – for now there are only plans and even more courses! But how do you stay motivated in the world filled with day jobs leaving you little to no time to relax and have a breather? Let me give you some tips!

  1. Working on a project doesn’t always mean getting stuff done – make a list of things that you need to get done in order to be able to sit down and start actually working. It may be something like getting more pencils and paper from your local shop or drafting a plan of dealing with everything. Get a scrapbook and make your mind map for the project, it makes it easier to keep on top of things!
  2. Every little bit helps – if you find yourself stuck at some point look for inspiration in different places. My current go to are online forums with fellow creators. My favourite one at the moment is the Dots. It’s a platform for creatives run by an amazing creative Pip Jamieson. You can ask the creative community questions, read posts and project plans by other creatives and simply get engaged!
  3. Webinars – in the age of global pandemic there are more and more online webinars which are easily accessible, all you need is a laptop and the access to the internet! Many creatives and entrepreneurs make free webinars where they talk about their craft and how they got started. For example Sophia Amoruso is holding a free webinar on 5 Things you need to know to start your business today this Thursday! If you’d like to sign up for the webinar click HERE.
  4. Set little goals for yourself – I love the feeling of crossing out things I did from my to do list. It gets me going and keeps me motivated. In order to be pushed forwards and not held back by your own lists make sure that what you write down is not a goal that would take weeks or months to achieve. Start small, even with a breakfast plan or morning meditation and grow from there. You need to make sure you know what to do to get to your final goal and not get demotivated by the amount of work you need to put in to get there.
  5. Treat yourself – I can’t stress this enough – happy and comfortable person equals more shit done. Don’t stress yourself, don’t overwork yourself and always put yourself and your well-being first. Make sure you know why you’re doing what you’re doing, eat that chocolate, go watch a movie, buy that book, go out with friends. Things we enjoy doing are not a distraction but a treat and sacrificing doing something that brings you joy to throw yourself into a spiral of constant work has never done any good to anyone…

Keeping yourself motivated can be a hard full time job. It is necessary to remember that we are allowed to have a day off and just… breathe!

Pimp up your CV

The amount of time I’ve spent trying to create a perfect resume is… actually it’s pretty sad. I’ve been looking for the best way to put my experience, skills and education down on paper and nothing seemed to work. So I started googling, signing up of webinars and courses on writing a resume. I have put everything I found out together and within a week I came up with a couple of CVs and started sending them out. Month later I was writing my very first article for VICE Polska. Today I decided to share everything I’ve learnt with you guys.