Thank you so much for agreeing to be a part of The Writing Desk Blog.
Now, imagine I’m about to introduce you to an auditorium, filled with the smiling faces of folks fuelled by caffeine and an eagerness to learn. What would I say?
“Hello everyone, I’d like to introduce…
Emily Clegg, Copywriter.
Here’s the part where we’d sit down and try and look comfortable next to the microphones. Are you sitting comfortably? Then let’s begin…
Can you name the business book that’s always on your desk? (I’m talking about the one that’s covered in pencil marks, coffee stains and has turned down corners…)
What’s your all-time favourite advertising campaign?
Tricky one, but one that springs to mind is the Oasis drink campaign that was brutally honest. You know the one? “It’s summer. You’re thirsty. We’ve got sales targets.” I loved it then and it still cracks me up now.
“Everyone has a book in them…” Or so the saying goes. What do you think/know/believe is the secret to good writing?
Sleeping on it. Writing is always better when it’s had time to breathe and your brain has had a chance to reset.
Also, editing. Edit, edit, edit. Think your writing is good? Edit some more!
If you were just starting out, what advice would you give yourself? Which book or books would you read first?
Take on all the advice and criticism on the chin. It’s so easy to take every constructive criticism to heart. It’s so easy to get bogged down by feedback. Your copy might feel like an extension of you. But it really isn’t.
The first book on copywriting I read was Write to Sell by Andy Maslen. I found it to be the perfect guide for a beginner and after quickly flicking through it, I stand by my choice even more so!
Silence? Radio? Or music while you work?
Music, always. Spotify is my best writing friend. I’m currently loving all of the Throwback Thursday playlists.
What are your top three novels of all time – and why?
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte – a classic so good I’ve read it over and over again.
Funny Boy by Shyam Selvadurai – literally the only reason I jetted off to Sri Lanka. Its vivid descriptions of the country, its culture and food are incredible.
We Were The Mulvaney’s by Joyce Carol Oates – hauntingly good. I couldn’t put it down.
What’s the best thing you’ve ever written? Why did it rock your world?
It was a poster for Chicken Salt. Yep, you heard right, Chicken Salt. I wanted to echo the Mad Men-esque print ads of the past and feel like I hit the nail on the head. It’s still one of my faves.
What’s the last thing you bought? And yes, that packet of chewing gum counts.
A pair of slippers from M&S for my grandad’s 96th birthday. He’s very particular about his slippers so I was super-relieved when they won his seal of approval.
Who was your teenage crush?
Oh god, it’s got to be Zack Morris from Saved by the Bell!
Can you describe the best meal you’ve ever eaten?
My partner and I decided to quit our jobs in 2015 and travel all over Asia. By the time we’d reach Hoi An in Vietnam, we’d have given anything to eat something other than banana pancakes. Thankfully, we discovered this tiny restaurant on a quiet corner street. They served us the BEST pork belly bao buns I’ve ever tasted. To this date. It was just a whole heap of gorgeous. The interiors, the food, the lovely lady who ran it. Everything!
What’s your favourite tipple? Is it wine, beer – a cask-aged malt?
100% a margarita. Well, basically, anything containing tequila will keep me happy.
If I were to give you a private jet, David Attenborough as a tour guide and a month off work – all expenses paid – where would you go and what or who would you write about – and why?
Ooooh, New Zealand, easily. I’ve always wanted to go and it looks breathtaking. In terms of writing, I’d love to tackle some impressive hikes and write about those. Urm, ok, can this trip be real?
What’s in your pockets?
No current pockets, but usually my son’s dummy or a bunch of doggy poo bags. Oh the glamour!
Pen and ink, pencil and paper or keyboard and screen? What’s your writing style?
My handwriting is terrible. TERRIBLE! Just ask my poor partner. So I usually have a Notes or Word doc open.
Do you read any blogs or magazines about writing? (And I mean read, not just subscribe to and delete/leave on your desk and recycle?)
Tea – or coffee? What’s your poison?
Tea, all day every day.
Do you have a favourite cup or mug? Can you describe it?
It’s a big, sage green mug with a bumpy pattern around the outside. It’s the DREAM mug for tea.
What was your most adored children’s book? And character?
Tiger Who Came to Tea. Think my parents probably ended up hiding that book from me. Anything by Beatrix Potter. My all-time favourite character? Hairy Maclary.
Your favourite word?
Audacious. Zero explanation required.
Your most loathed word? (You know, the one that makes you shudder and say “Ew!”?)
Nice. Think that comes from being told it’s the worst adjective to walk the earth while at school.
Where can we find you? – Browsing online or lost in the aisles of a bookstore?
Ooooh, I’m pretty lazy so usually browsing online. But I love nothing more than a wander around a book shop. It always feels like a real treat…anyone else?
Favourite song lyric of all time? And why?
“Don’t be fooled by the rocks that I got
I’m still, I’m still Jenny from the block
Used to have a little, now I have a lot
No matter where I go, I know where I came from (from the Bronx)”
Why? Because Jennifer Coolidge read it out in her first ever TikTok.
Name the artist who is guaranteed to get you up on the dance floor.
Beyoncé or Sean Paul. Who can resist?
Do you have any strange writing rituals you’d like to share with us?
Not really. Hmm, maybe just plugging in my headphones and listening to 00s rock?
What are you working on today? What’s in the pipeline?
Lots of meetings, lots of social media copy and some interesting email projects.
Can you describe the last photograph you took?
One of my son covered head-to-toe in tomato pasta. We’re a pro-carb family.
What piece of advice really changed you as a writer?
Research and research some more. Essentially, you’re only as good as your research. It transformed the way I wrote while I was interning.
What was the last thing you wrote that had nothing to do with your job?
Texts to friends, shopping lists and cards to loved ones. Not very exciting!
What’s your favourite quote about the process of writing?
“Write the way you talk. Naturally.” – David Ogilvy
Who is your favourite Mad Man – or Woman?
Pete Campbell or Betty Draper/Francis. They left me feeling a whole rollercoaster of emotions!
Can you name your favourite film – and tell us why you love it?
I studied film at university, so there are a lot I love. It completely depends on my mood/time of day. It can vary from comedies like Anchor Man to dramas like Call Me By Your Name.
Of all time it’s got to be In the Mood for Love by Wong Kar-wai. The music, the colours, the acting. Just watch it.
Which book or books is/are by your bed today?
Who was or is your greatest teacher?
Louisa, my film tutor at college. She was a bad arse. Her and my mum were the first people to really shape my writing style.
Who is your favorite artist?
Love a Keith Haring (who doesn’t?). Oh, and saw Bhupen Khakhar’s work in the Tate once. Loved how bold and bright it all was. Really stuck with me.
Where do you like to work best – is it at a desk, in an office or in a coffee shop? And would you send us a picture of where the magic happens?
Wherever I feel comfy. Could be at my desk, could be on the sofa with the TV on in the background.
And finally, where can this caffeine-fuelled audience find you?
Check me out on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/emily-clegg-copywriter/