Jenny Lucas Desk


by | The Writing Desk

First drafts are always rough. You need to walk away from it — and sleep on it, ideally.


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…

Jenny Lucas, SEO copywriter, content writer, conceptual copywriter, part-time farmhand and tractor driver.

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…)

I don’t actually have one. And that’s not because I don’t read, but because virtually all the reading I do is online. Instead, I have folders of bookmarks and they’re constantly changing according to the latest advice and best practice.

What’s your all-time favourite advertising campaign?

It was for Patek Philippe watches and the line was:

‘You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation.’

It’s simple and clever, which is rare.

“Everyone has a book in them…” Or so the saying goes. What do you think/know/believe is the secret to good writing?

Time and editing. First drafts are always rough. You need to walk away from it — and sleep on it, ideally. It’s the only way you can be objective about what you’ve written and start to shape it into something you feel happy with.

This is why I don’t like same-day rush jobs. There’s rarely enough time to refine what you’ve written.

If you were just starting out, what advice would you give yourself? Which book or books would you read first?

Try a bit of everything to see what you enjoy and what feels right. I always had an aversion to maths and numbers, so SEO copywriting would never have appealed to me if I hadn’t tried it first. 

Copywriting Made Simple, by Tom Albrighton is a good book to start with and I wish it had been available when I first started.

After that, The Letter Book, by Robert Collier, which is full of timeless and practical advice for selling.

Silence? Radio? Or music while you work?

It depends on what I’m doing. For SEO keyword research, I need music. I’ll open up iTunes and set it to shuffle, because I like the anticipation of never knowing what’s coming next.

For writing, I have to have silence. I work from a farm in the middle of the countryside and it’s always quiet. Sometimes the only noise I hear is when my stomach starts to rumble.

What are your top three novels of all time – and why?

Filth, by Irvine Welsh is my all-time favourite. It’s compelling, filthy and deliciously dark. And it reignited my love of reading after a six-year hiatus. Let’s just say, A’ Level English had a lot to answer for.

The Complete Talking Heads, by Alan Bennett — it’s not a novel, but I think it’s a masterpiece and there’s so much in the things that aren’t said.

Us, by David Nicholls, which manages to be hilarious and heart-wrenching all at the same time.

What’s the best thing you’ve ever written? Why did it rock your world?

I can’t say too much about it, but it was a concept for a poster I was asked to develop and it had the trickiest and most impossible brief. 

It was a serious safety issue, but the subject matter was sensitive and I needed to communicate it in a way that was tactful and wouldn’t cause offence.

Nobody thought I’d be able to come up with anything — not my team and not even the client — but I did and I was super-proud of it.

What’s the last thing you bought? And yes, that packet of chewing gum counts.

I bought a pair of reading glasses for my partner, so he can read the ridiculously tiny instructions on the backs of tiny boxes.

Who was your teenage crush? 

Marti Pellow, because he had a smile that could light up a whole country.

Can you describe the best meal you’ve ever eaten?

There have been so many. But the fish platter at Maria’s in Rethymnon, Crete was so good, we went twice in the same week. The freshest fish in the most beautiful setting, right next to the harbour.

What’s your favourite tipple? Is it wine, beer – a cask-aged malt?

I love a negroni. It’s a cocktail made with Campari, red vermouth and gin. You can make it a negroni frizzante if you top it up with Prosecco. It’s so bitter, my sister said it was the worst thing she’d ever tasted!

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?

Kenya, to see and write about giraffes in the wild. I’ve been fascinated by giraffes for a long time. They’re, unusual, graceful, and do almost everything standing up.

What’s in your pockets?

Poo bags. I can tell you that without even looking. I think it should always be the case when you have dogs — and we have two.

Pen and ink, pencil and paper or keyboard and screen? What’s your writing style?

Keyboard and screen. I went paperless in 2017 when I started freelancing full time. Partly because I’d been drowning in piles of paper at my last job. Partly because I don’t like waste. But mostly because I hate computer printers with every fibre of my being.

My last printer was always going wrong, with persistent and unfathomable error messages. The final straw was when the manufacturer decided its printer cartridges would ‘expire’ before they were empty. I’m not a violent person, but I took great pleasure in smashing it up with a hammer! 

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?)

I always read The Writing Desk, because who can resist a glimpse into the minds of other writers?

And I’m subscribed to several great copywriting emails. Eleanor Goold’s The Copywriter was the first one and always delivers good value. Miguel Ferreira’s Creative Samba is excellent and a personal favourite. Dave Harland’s The Word, obviously. And two relatively new ones: Gillian Jones’ Play it as it Lays, which is always thoughtful and interesting; and Rowan Martin’s Stuck in Your Story, which is all about brand messaging for women in business.

Tea – or coffee? What’s your poison?

Coffee. Preferably a double-shot flat white with a pleasing bitterness. I’ve never liked tea — especially tea with sugar in it.

Do you have a favourite cup or mug? Can you describe it?

It’s a mug I bought from the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin. It’s black and red with a picture of the famous toucan on it and the Guinness logo in white along the bottom.

What was your most adored children’s book? And character?

Charlotte’s Web. It’s the reason why I’ve never eaten pig and never kill spiders. My favourite character is Templeton, the rat who gnaws out the words from packets and boxes he found.

Your favourite word?

Apricot. It’s a neat little word with all my favourite letter sounds.

Your most loathed word? (You know, the one that makes you shudder and say “Ew!”?)

Yummy. I can’t bear it.

Where can we find you? – Browsing online or lost in the aisles of a bookstore?

Lost in the aisles of a bookstore. I like looking at the book covers and reading excerpts from the middle. Browsing online has never had the same appeal.

Favourite song lyric of all time? And why?

“I know I am a legend, ‘cause I’ve seen my name slandered on a dirty subway wall.”

It’s the opening line from Sticks and Stones by The Mission. I like it because it’s not romantic and it feels raw and real.

Name the artist who is guaranteed to get you up on the dance floor.

There’s only really one song and it’s Jump Around by House of Pain.

Do you have any strange writing rituals you’d like to share with us?

No, nothing out of the ordinary. Maybe I need to start some!

What are you working on today? What’s in the pipeline?

I’m writing web copy for a chain of nail salons in London, helping a fellow copywriter with SEO keywords for her new brand and hopefully talking to a new agency about a potential web design and SEO copywriting collaboration. 

Can you describe the last photograph you took?

It’s a photo of a lottery ticket my friend taped inside my birthday card and I sent it to her to show her I’d won a fiver.

What piece of advice really changed you as a writer?

You can’t force yourself to be creative. If your ideas aren’t flowing, the best thing you can do is step away. It came from Eleanor Goold around the time I started freelancing full time and it’s been invaluable.

Stepping away is difficult when you’re employed, because you’re always expected to be at your desk. But as a freelancer, it’s lovely to have that freedom and it’s so much more productive.

What was the last thing you wrote that had nothing to do with your job?

It was a blog post about my partner’s parents’ farmhouse, which we renovated and moved into. I’d been banging on about it on LinkedIn for so long, I thought everyone probably deserved to see it!

What’s your favourite quote about the process of writing?

“The best time to plan a book is while you’re doing the dishes.” 

~ Agatha Christie

Who is your favourite Mad Man – or Woman?

Roger Sterling.

Can you name your favourite film – and tell us why you love it?

Forrest Gump. The childlike innocence of the narration in contrast with what we see and know is the truth. And the ending gets me every time.

Which book or books is/are by your bed today?

I’m not reading anything right now because my Kindle has self-combusted and I haven’t had a chance to get a new one!

Who was or is your greatest teacher?

His name was Mike Wardle, he was a teacher at the college where I did my GCSEs, and he’s the only person who’s ever helped me understand maths. I did so well in his class that they moved me into the top set… with a different teacher who mystified me all over again.

Who is your favourite artist?

I love Leonid Afremov’s rainy European street scenes and anything that toys with light and colour like that.

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?

Since we moved to the farm, I have a proper home office overlooking the fields. It’s a two-second commute from the bedroom and, while I love working in it, it’s nice to be able to close the door on it at the end of the day.

Jenny Lucas Desk
And finally, where can this caffeine-fuelled audience find you?

You can find me on my website:

On my blog:

And on LinkedIn, where I try to post Monday to Thursday:

Written By Katherine

Katherine Wildman is a copywriter for creative agencies and multinational brands – and the Creative Director of Haydn Grey.

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