I studied English and Creative Writing at university and nowhere in my degree did I receive guidance on how to earn a living. Zilch.
We had a class on writing pitches to editors — which I now know was far too convoluted and is not the way I’ve gotten magazine and newspaper commissions since — but that was it.
For someone who majored in creative writing, graduating without a clue about how to make an income from it wasn’t particularly helpful. So by the time I was 21 and fresh out of university, I had never even heard the word copywriter.
I started working for a bookshop because if I couldn’t write for a living, at least I could be surrounded by books. I was sent proofs by publishers, got to talk about books all day and read everything I set my hands on when the shop got quiet.
I learnt more about the publishing industry from working at that bookshop than I did in my three year degree. It wasn’t the university’s fault, they’d never advertised the course as something that’d teach me such things, but at the same time I can’t help but feel it seemed like a yawning gap in the syllabus.
After a while I thought I’d better get a ‘proper’ job which, at 22, I saw as one in an office. So I moved to a law firm and shuffled papers around for 11 months, writing the odd press release here and there on top of my job description, simply to get some writing done.
But the thing about being a writer is that it follows you around. It nips at your ankles and taps you on the shoulder when you’re under an avalanche of filing.
You can only ignore it for so long.
Break for freedom
When I decided that a long-term adventure would be a fun thing to do, I needed a job where I could work remotely from wherever I was in the world. And given that I’m not an online poker player, a day trader or coder, I figured writing was my best shot.
Because, fundamentally, I am a writer.
And that’s when I discovered copywriting. My friend had completed a Masters degree in Professional Writing, a course that actually did…