The ten things every copywriter hates to hear (and the ideal responses):

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1. "I've changed the copy, so I'm sending it back for you to make it read properly."

Ah! So you couldn't resist meddling with the perfectly good copy I sent to you - and now you want me to put it right. Right?

2. "I know it's not in the brief, but you've missed a bit."

Of course! Although you didn't have the time or the inclination to give me clear instructions, you're quite content to point out where I've gone wrong. Cheers for that.

3. "The client is a copywriter, so make it good."

No, the client is not a copywriter. The client is a fishmonger/merchant banker/ movie star. If the client was a copywriter, they'd be writing the copy. But I'm writing the copy. Because I'm a copywriter. Coincidentally, this is also the reason it will be 'good'.

4. "There isn't a brief as such."

Oh, that is tremendous news. So we're going to produce a piece of copy without any guidance, information or clue as to what is required. Apart from absolutely everything, what could possibly go wrong?

5. "All the information you need is on the emails below."

Hooray! So before I begin, you're expecting me to wade through a mass of hurried messages and huge attachments in order to decipher exactly what it is I'm supposed to be writing. And you want it how soon?

6. "If you have any questions, please note I am now on holiday for two weeks."

Yes, I have dozens of questions. Largely because, in your rush to make the plane to Fuerteventura, you omitted to explain the job in any meaningful way; and 'accidently' left your phone behind.

7. "This has been on my desk for a week, so can you do it quickly?"

So, you're saying there was plenty of time to get this written properly. But that was seven days ago. Now there's barely time to think before the client starts chasing the work; and for some reason it's my problem.

8. "Can you add some more information and make it shorter?"

Of course I can. Also, I can change the second law of thermodynamics, solve Fermat's last theorem and give the windows a quick polish with finest Russian vodka.

9. "The client says you've used too many commas."

Is this the same client who struggles to tell the difference between 'your' and 'you're' in their all but illiterate emails? I thought so.

10. "Can you make the copy really funky?"

'Funky' as in the scent of recently executed coupling? Or 'funky' as in the uniquely danceable stylings of James Brown and the Famous Flames? Or 'funky' as in a word you think young people use to describe something of which you have no real grasp.  Either way, the answer is almost certainly 'no', 'certainly not', or 'go away'.  

Magnus Shaw is a copywriter, blogger and consultant.


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