To pigeonhole or to not pigeonhole?

That is, indeed, the question – at least when it comes to my set of skills.

I began my career writing. I love writing. Seeing the words flow out on to a page, there is something akin to alchemy about it. Well, perhaps that’s taking things a bit far. But I get the same feeling I do when I see anyone take a blank page or canvas (or a bunch of ingredients, etc) and create another thing out of it. I’m still amazed at it, even if it’s me that’s doing it.

But (and it’s a tiny but) I also like to do other things.

These are, of course, related to the core skill I have built up over the years. And I’m thankful to a number of people for recognising those skills and motivating me to follow up on them in depth. I’m talking about strategy and UX.

Of course, back in the late 1990s, both those jobs occasionally fell to creatives – particularly copywriters, and especially online. So I sort of ‘grew up’ with having to learn and apply these new skills.

I’m still learning, because there are massive gaps in my knowledge that I’m always looking to fill.

However, recently I’ve had a yearning to get back to writing. Just that. Words, and more words. I want to see them cascade out of my brain, flow along the nerve endings and be executed by nimble fingers. It’s a basic need I’m feeling. That’s not to say that I’ve fallen out of love with the other skills I’ve nurtured, it’s just that I have had to take a back seat to writing the past eight or so months. And I realised I missed it.

I even felt a bit of jealousy working alongside other writers on recent pitches, wanting to get involved, to throw some of my own lines out there. Thankfully, I’ve been lucky enough to work with a few writers whose egos were miniscule and they welcomed additional input. But it was still their work; they owned the line. All I was required to do was frame it against the brief.

The other side of this coin is that I narrow my chances of getting work – agencies have a plethora of copywriters to choose from (some better than me, some not so, I’m sure); yet there appears to be a need for strategic thinkers in the digital space. More so now that ‘social’ has come to mean more than a few pints down the pub after a hard slog at the layout pad.

It remains to be seen whether I do put myself forward as ‘just a copywriter’. I’m not sure the industry even sees me as that anymore. What I do know is I still don’t want to be pigeonholed.

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