Copy Talk

Interview with a Writer: Emily Kelly

The first thing you should know about Emily Kelly is that her name is Emily Kelly.

Never just Emily. Ever.

The second thing you should know is that I sorta made up that rule.

Based in Chicago, Emily Kelly is a copywriter who has worked on both the agency and client side. In fact, our careers crossed twice while I worked in Chicago, once on each side. She’s a great friend, which isn’t vital to being a great writer, but whaddya know, Emily Kelly happens to be both.

BR: What kind of writer are you?

EK: A professional one? And personal, too, I suppose. I think I’m still figuring it out. But, I do get paid to write marketing-y and technical things (“Marketing Copywriter” by title), and I contribute to a couple blogs.

BR: How did you get wherever you are now?

EK: (I was going to say “by train!” … but then I realized that someone else in this series beat me to the punch[line].) As a professional writer, I got to this point in my career by way of advertising copywriting, which I got into half by accident, half by stubbornness, with a dash of social media networking. I studied advertising in college and knew that was the area I wanted to get into, and writing was just something I was good at. I interned and freelanced at a few agencies around Chicago, before making the switch to in-house marketing last year for a software company.

I have been writing in some form or another since I was a kid, though. Lately I’ve been trying to get beyond the ‘professional’ side of it and start to rediscover the more creative, personal side of my voice.

BR: What advice would you give to someone trying to improve their writing?

EK: Read, definitely—and read lots of different kinds of writing.

Share your work. Get feedback. Don’t be afraid to show your writing to people you trust, whose opinions you respect. Don’t wait for your work to be “ready” to show it either, whether it’s a novel or a copywriting portfolio. You’ll never feel like it’s perfect, or done, and that’s okay. Share it anyway.

Try different styles of writing. If you’re in marketing, take a creative writing class. If you’re a novelist, maybe start a blog. Just like anything, the variety will help develop your skills and help you realize your tone, your strengths, and inform your future writing.

Also, learn how to properly use a semicolon.

BR: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve worked on?

EK: Ha… this is a tough one! In the first agency I worked at, we were pitching business to a “high end pet accessory” store and were tasked (internally) with developing horribly offensive (“eye-catching”) billboard tag lines aimed to piss people off.

BR: What’s something you’d like to work on in the future?

EK: As I mentioned, I’d like to get back into writing more creatively, and more personally. I don’t have much direction at the moment, but something that uses fewer buzzwords and makes people laugh or think.

This post is part of Interview with a Writer, a series trying to figure out what being a writer today looks like. Want to suggest a writer for me to feature? Is that writer you? Get in touch.

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