Closed to Interpretation – By @marleygam

By Marley Muirhead

Closed to Interpretation


This course is becoming intense. Every day is beginning to feel like one more plastic basket or hay bale being added to the back of one of those Buckaroo donkeys. You’re almost holding your breath in anticipation of the moment you’ll almost certainly buck. You hope it won’t happen but you know it will. However, with every additional scamp or brief that we have completed there has been constructive criticism. Such a surge of it actually that I’ve started to see a thread emerge when it comes to the work I have produced. I am not writing clearly enough. Concisely enough. Simply enough. It is a tad disorienting to feel a bit useless at the skill I say I want to build a career from. Being a writer who can’t communicate powerfully enough isn’t exactly a stick-it-on-the-fridge achievement. The invasion on my self-esteem proves it so. But it’s not as simple as not being able to write well enough. Dear me, the plot thickens. In some miraculous irony, I’ve found that my current ineptitude as a creative copywriter come from the same place as what I believe underpins my potential to become an amazing one. For me, that’s my literary background.

Over the five-plus years I have practised writing prose, poetry and fiction. Generally speaking these disciplines teach you to relish in your ability to smuggle meaning. Dress it in layers puckered enough to entice a reader to pick it apart with bitten finger nail. That kind of thing. It’s all been one big hide and seek game. That does not work for advertising. From what I have learned over the last four weeks is that your message needs to be shamelessly clear and upfront. For sure it can have a layered meanings. Sprinkle a bit of word play here, a pun or two there. But all of that is a bonus. If the meaning and emotion isn’t conjured up upon the first read, you’d better take it back to forge and hammer out the kinks. 

I’m not saying worth a Groupon-coupon for therapy, but it has definitely thrown me over these last four weeks. What’s crazy though is that I know I just need to find the common ground between the two disciplines. Take what I know from literature and apply it to creative copy-writing. Plus, although that does pose a challenge, I feel very fortunate to have it. To slide down a learning curve has been as much of an amusement as it has been gut-wrenching. I mean, when you get complacent you don’t learn anything. It’s quite cool to have the opportunity to learn a different side of a craft that’s a really big part of me. One thing I have learned is that, just like writing fiction, creative copy writing is a discipline. Writing strap lines takes the same work, failure, and graft as writing poetry. I think accepting SCA as a place for all of that will make the intensity of the school easier to navigate and contextualise.

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