By Richard Rippon, Senior Copywriter

“There’s nothing to writing,” Ernest Hemmingway is quoted to have said. “All you do is sit down at the typewriter and bleed.”

But if we’re talking about copywriting, how do you come up with great writing and ideas, but maybe bleed a little less?

Here’s ten pearls of wisdom from people who know their way around words.


1. David Abbott – “Don’t be boring”

Use your life to animate your copy. If something moves you, chances are it will touch someone else, too. Don’t be boring.

2. Sean Doyle – “Always be collecting”

There are gazillions of ideas floating around out there. Keep your radar on for anything remotely interesting, and snatch it.

3. Jim Durfee – “Short sentences”

Write short sentences with small words and few adjectives. They are easier to read. And more interesting and believable.”

4. Dan Germain – “Don’t be anywhere”

Take a train. Or even a plane. There is something about movement and not being anywhere that helps me write better.

5. Adrian Holmes – “Reward the reader”

Always ask yourself: have I expressed this in as original a way as possible? Have I been ruthlessly concise? Have I kept my side of the bargain?

6. Eric Kallman – “Seinfeld it and Will Ferrell it”

Write down every conceivable observation and insight. Write “What’s the deal with…” followed by your observations. Then write down every fun, weird, imaginative and exciting thing that has nothing to do with what you’re selling. Then work backwards and connect it somehow.

7. Leon Jaume – “Don’t fossilise. Have fun.”

Don’t fossilise your ads and constantly revisit them . Do what your readers do – throw them away and leave your mind open for the next one. Have fun. Words written with joyful relish are more likely to be read that way.

8. James Lowther – “Craft it”

Care is what distinguishes good copywriters from average ones.

9. Vicki Maguire – “Keep your mind open”

Keep your mind and your notebook open to real life.

10. John Stingley – “Pay attention to your first ideas”

Pay careful attention to your first ideas. They are formed with the same innocence, naivete and lack of jadedness that consumers have when first exposed to your ad.


And what would my piece of advice be? Don’t be scared of out-there ideas. Yeah, some of them might not hit the brief, but there’s probably a reasonably sane reason behind that mad thought, and there could be something in it.