Copy Talk

Read Better (Please, Copywriters)

Most ad copy, if we’re being truthful, is terrible. It’s stale. Flatter than a pancake (or clichés like “flatter than a pancake”). Modern ad copy seems to oscillate between the words fun, awesome and great. Exclamation points are added in for “excitement.”  Sentences are polished and pretty, but void of meaning.

I know you’re feeling this, too. It’s draining. How many more ways can you say buy this, click this, read now, like us, follow please?

But here’s my thing. What are you reading? In any given week, what exactly do you read? Because what you take in as a copywriter is just as important as what you put out. Don’t stay within the three most mainstream sites, don’t read industry blogs exclusively, don’t scroll through Pinterest and think that’s enough. You need words. More words, better words.

Below are a few favorite (online) reads of mine to get you started. They’re not about advertising or copywriting. Not at all. They’re about emotion, humor, heart.

Read better. Please, copywriters.

Craigslist Missed Connection Magically Realized – Raphael Bob-Waksberg

Have you read this one yet? It’s endearing and resonant, two words that almost never apply to ad writing.


American Marvel – Edith Zimmerman

No one could have written this piece except Edith Zimmerman. It’s all her. It’s her voice. And that’s what makes it so damn good.


The Second Tooth – Dooce

There’s nothing fluffy about this story. It’s bursting with real pain and nerves and overwhelming love.


Iowa Fashion Week Begins – The Onion

There are so many great Onion pieces I could have selected, but I picked this one because it pays such incredible attention to the details. The top names in Iowa fashion? “Ames resident Jerry Paquette, Iowa City’s Marjorie Lanford, and veteran crochet designer Shelly Farnsworth of Jasper County.” That is craft.


Adventures in Depression – Hyperbole And A Half

This piece mixes comics and prose for a poignant, personal take on mental health. The struggle is palpable and the honesty remarkable.


Keep reading, writers.


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