People often ask me how I became a copywriter — especially those who want to follow a similar career path.
The truth is, there isn’t a set way to become a copywriter and none of the copywriters I know took the same route I did. This is why virtually every copywriter you meet will be unique — with a different background and a different set of skills.
I think I was always destined to write, but my experience at school set me on an alternative tangent that changed everything.
When I was young, I always thought I would be a writer
As a youngster, I had a natural way with words, a large vocabulary for my age and a vivid imagination. I loved reading and writing more than anything else.
While other children were playing outside, climbing trees and riding bikes, I was writing stories at the dining room table.
But then, things changed
In 1991 I started studying for my A’ Levels. I took four: English, Sociology, Design and Technology and the mandatory General Studies.
Having achieved two A-grades at GCSE, A’ Level, English had been an obvious subject choice for me. And I had expected to enjoy it — but I didn’t.
The books we were given to read seemed dry, tedious and uninspiring. In class, we would laboriously pick them apart — line by line, word by word — analysing every detail.
My love of reading began to fade and I found myself drawn to Design and Technology instead.
I bought myself some thinking time
My A’ Level results threw me. I had struggled to get a B in English, but, with hard work and enthusiasm, I got an A in Design and Technology.
Confused and no longer knowing what I wanted to do, I took a job as an optical assistant at a city centre opticians’ practice.
I still count this as one of the best career choices I ever made. Dealing with the public on a daily basis did wonders for my confidence and, for the first time, I learned to work as part of a team.
I felt I was ready to go to university
In 1995 I started a Bachelor of Arts degree at De Montfort University, studying Design Management. It was a modular course and my chosen modules had an emphasis on graphics and visual communications.
I chose it because it was part design, which I loved, and part business and management theory, which I thought would be good at.
The course was an excellent foundation in project management, marketing, advertising and business. All of which are incredibly worthwhile skills if you want to be a copywriter.
I played to my strengths
As a designer I was a constant disappointment to myself.
No matter how much time I spent reading, learning and honing my skills, I didn’t have the talent. Even if I had an amazing idea in my head, I could never execute it in the same way I imagined it.
But I could always be called upon to write an A-grade-worthy report.
About the author
I’m Jenny Lucas, a UK copywriter, based in Leicester.
I became a copywriter in 2005 after six years working in design and marketing.
In 2017 I decided to give up having a day job and freelance full time.
Today I’m a generalist copywriter who specialises in conceptual copywriting and SEO copy for the web.