When I talk about my writing here on the blog, I’m talking about fiction writing. Whether writing for kids, or writing science fiction, fantasy or horror for adults, fiction is my favorite pool to splash around in.
What I don’t talk about much here is my day job, which I’ve done now for almost forty years. I’m creative director for a small, close-knit ad agency here in beautiful Cleveland, Ohio (And no, I’m not being sarcastic. I love this city, except for the weather.). Funny thing is, if I add up the minutes, I spend more time writing for work than I do at home. Don’t get me wrong, my main gig is graphic design, but in any given week I write radio and TV scripts, website copy, blog posts, print copy—the list is long. My co-workers are aware of my fiction writing, and insanely supportive, which is very cool.
The questions I find myself asking are these: Does the fiction writing make me a better advertising writer? Does the advertising writing make me a better fiction writer?
I don’t know for sure, but I think the answer to both questions is yes.
My fiction tends to the fantastic, to flights of fancy, often to humor. I lean on my imagination pretty hard. I would argue that all those things come into play when I’m writing advertising copy, because I try to look past the first, more mundane ideas, and aim for somewhere near left field. I might be selling sewing machines, or home heating and cooling systems, but that doesn’t mean I can’t find a fun and unique way to make that sale. The skills I’ve learned writing fiction help me do that.
Conversely, When I sit down to write fiction, the skills I’ve learned writing advertising copy come into play. I’ve had to learn to make a point clearly, succinctly, in as few words as possible, to describe something so that the mind’s eye can see and understand it. I find this really helpful when writing action scenes in particular, the ability to keep all the pieces moving without the story desolving into a muddy stew of imprecise verbs.
So, in a word, yeah. I think writing a lot makes me a better writer in both my day and night jobs.
I would love to get some other opinions here. Do you agree? Disagree? Let me know!