Tackle the Books

I tell my copywriting students they need to learn how to write under pressure.

Creativity on demand is nervous business. Copywriters also usually sit right next to the persons they are competing against for the best assignments and the almighty Quan. And every project in ad land seems to have one screwball who wants it on the air yesterday or isn’t feeling it now even though they were clearly feeling it last week.

I remember the first copywriting assignment where Panic Chimp screamed in my head. I had to come up with a title for a grocery store coupon book that featured pro-literacy content from the NFL.

After a week of working on nothing else I finally landed on a line. I think my creative director was more relieved than I was.

As I teacher, I watch my students go through the same process—flailing and choking in water a foot deep. Eventually they figure it out for themselves. Or drown. Both are valuable experiences, creatively speaking.

For this blog, my deadline is to write something every day. The competition is the rest of the Internet.

No pressure.

Adjunct faculty—final grades are to be posted by 4:30 p.m., no exceptions.

Every class is an organism unto itself. It’s why the end of the semester is so hard for me—a creature, no less different from any other living thing, disappears forever. It’s why the beginnings of semesters are so difficult as well. What is this animal? Does it bite? Is it even housebroken?

After the first class of every semester I go home and tell Alice that the new kids aren’t as cool as the old kids and she says I always say that. After the last class of the semester I go home and tell Alice those kids were just the best, the best ever, and she says I always say that.

Red Pen of Death, 2014-2016

Red Pen of Death uni ball VISION ELITE

A uni ball VISION ELITE from CVS pharmacy, Red Pen of Death served ably and honorably in three complete semesters of freshman creative writing. It died in action in its fourth adjunct tour of duty, during a routine Graphic Novella critique. Its last words: “Funny eyes. Good Sequence.”

Red Pen of Death is also survived by Grammar Girl, the Purdue OWL and many unamused students.