Celebrated literature and copywriting

5th July 2012 | Posted in Content creation

If you’re an avid – or even an occasional – listener to BBC Radio 4, the UK national speech channel, you’ll have noticed that it recently celebrated a James Joyce anniversary. (Other anniversaries are available – especially on the BBC.)

It was the 90th anniversary of Joyce’s famous Ulysses novel, and Radio 4 spent the day broadcasting excerpts.

We were told at school that Joyce said if he had spent seven years writing a book, it was perfectly reasonable that people should spend seven years trying to understand it.  Joyce also famously wrote an entire chapter of a book without any punctuation.

That puts great literature at a huge distance from marketing writing, doesn’t it? Our readership isn’t going to give us seven years, or seven hours. Or even seven minutes. Seven seconds is more like it.

Yet there are literary successes – like Salman Rushdie – who have flourished from advertising copywriting backgrounds. And many a copywriter cherishes plans to become a fiction author, a screenwriter or a comic genius.

There are themes that you’ll find in good writing everywhere. A sense of rhythm draws a reader through text, and makes the reading  process almost enjoyable. Any good writing (at the risk of sounding pretentious) has a sense of poetry.

Good writers think carefully about their choice of words,, avoiding repetition while making every word count.

There is though a delicate balance between using language that resonates with the audience, and simply rolling out cliques.

So if you’ve no immediate plans to be a literary genius, fear not. You can still get that flyer written. Just think hard – and, unlike Joyce, use accepted grammar.

2 responses to “Celebrated literature and copywriting”

  1. Some really interesting facts here Kathy. I’m classical music trained, studied poetry at university and yet had never thought about the relationship between rhythm and writing until you pointed it out. Makes me wonder if that’s also why I love Andrew Motion’s work and adore listening to him in person. He probably has an in built sense of rhthym in his speech due to his poetry writing!

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