There is a difference between creative writing and copywriting. It took me a while to come to terms with this but it's true, there is a difference. When I first started my home based business on the Internet I read a lot of advice about publishing articles and doing copywriting to advertise your website. There was always a distinction drawn between copywriting and creative writing. I did not understand this: surely copywriting is creative? Eventually the logic dawned on me: all copywriting is creative writing but not all creative writers can write decent ad copy. If you have never studied that particular branch of philosophy, it's like all roses are flowers but not all flowers are roses.
When I came to understand this difference, it explained for me the reason why I can write at length on any subject (stopping is the hard part) but tell me I need to write an advertisement and I go all bashful and tongue-tied. Give me a subject or, indeed, no subject at all -- just a blank page is sufficient to set me going and I'll hammer away at the keyboard until... Until when? Actually, I never really stop, just pause from time to time. Advertising copy is a different matter. I can sit for ages resisting the lure of the blank page if I know that what I need to do is copywriting to use for advertising.
This inability to write ad copy caused me problems because I wanted to advertise my home based business and various individual affiliate programmes. Plenty of pre-written ads come with most decent affiliate programmes and it is an easy matter to copy and paste these but I wanted to use fresh material instead of advertisements that everyone had seen a hundred times before. I blame my inability to write advertising copy on my upbringing: modesty and understatement were encouraged and boastfulness was the eleventh deadly sin. It seemed to me that writing advertisements for myself was akin to bragging.
Eventually, I overcame my distaste for self-proclamation and tried my hand at some copywriting. When I compared my efforts with the pre-written ads, it was obvious that something was absent. My advertisements were dull and flat, uninspired and uninspiring. Then I discovered the secret: copywriting is a craft not an art. It is has rules which need to be learnt and practised. A course of online copywriting lessons was not hard to come by. In fact, I ended up reading several such courses on the good old Information Highway.
Rules are fine, I have a good memory. Examples are not hard to come by and it was easy to make a collection of snippets from the copywriting courses. I learnt about the importance of writing an attention grabbing headline. I can manage that, there are plenty of examples to borrow. I got to grips with selecting buzz words such as amazing, customised, effortless, excellent and, the best one of all -- free. So far so good. Use sentence fragments -- not so keen on that idea but, when you think about it, that's how conversation goes in real life, so I'll do it. Sell the sizzle not the steak --yeah, I get it. Offer benefits, not features --yeah, yeah, I can do that.
Things started to look better and better as I became familiar with the rules and I began to daydream about becoming a copywriter (like in the film 'The Guys' with that nice Anthony La Paglia). My daydream ended abruptly when I found there was one rule of English grammar I could not bring myself to break. The very thought made me shudder and give up any idea of a copywriting career. I can cope with all the fragments, buzzes and sizzles. But I could never begin a sentence with 'and'.