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…
Lee Trott, 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…)
… there’s four! “How to Build a Better Business Plan: A hands-on action guide for business” and “Cash Flow Surge: 101 no-cost and low-cost fast-action strategies to boost your business cash flow” both by Alastair Thomson (@FinanceDirCFO on Twitter), “The Power of Puerility” by Mark Denton, and “The Choice Factory” by R Shotton.
What’s your all-time favourite advertising campaign?
Gotta be Net10 “No Evil” by Droga5 – they’re simple, clear, informative, and genuinely laugh out loud funny, and they’re based on one of my favourite tv shows “Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law”. Every time I see them, I’m so jealous I didn’t make them. (Watch them here: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLoFMggOfYTshHxK9GUN-V2e17YrFgZFmW)
“Everyone has a book in them…” Or so the saying goes. What do you think/know/believe is the secret to good writing?
For articles, blogs, and books, I think the easiest way to write interesting, easy-to-get-into copy, is to write like you speak and stay true to your own voice. If you start writing trying to sound like someone else or talk in a voice that’s not yours, it doesn’t sound right, and isn’t as easy to read.
If you were just starting out, what advice would you give yourself? Which book or books would you read first?
… Oh god, how long have you got!? My first piece of advice to me would be “if you haven’t got something nice to say, keep your mouth shut”, and then I would SHOUT that piece of advice at me again, to make sure I’d heard it! Also, 5 minutes with the senior client of any brand is worth a week with their junior clients. Oh, and you should make the effort to ask coworkers if they want a cuppa tea or coffee…
Silence? Radio? Or music while you work?
Constant music for me, whilst I work. I like to chat in work, so I’ve always got headphones on, it keeps me more focussed, and also helps to block out negative thoughts… People say I’m a very fun and happy person, but without music, I think I’d be much more stressed and unpleasant.
What are your top three novels of all time – and why?
Lady in the Lake by Raymond Chandler
Republican Party Reptile by P. J. O’ Rourke
Puckoon by Spike Milligan
What’s the best thing you’ve ever written? Why did it rock your world?
… I honestly don’t have a favourite thing I’ve written.
What’s the last thing you bought? And yes, that packet of chewing gum counts.
The last thing I bought was petrol for my car… Right now, I’ve found that being able to take a little drive on your own up the M1, with your favourite album blasting at full volume is an amazing de-stresser, and a luxury that I’m lucky to have.
Who was your teenage crush?
Hahaha probably Louise Redknapp? Or maybe Kelly Rowland from Destiny’s Child…
Can you describe the best meal you’ve ever eaten?
One of the best was at the Wapping Project – a restaurant and art gallery that was located in an abandoned power station in Wapping… the building and the food incredible… Also ‘Flavour Bastard’, which used to be on Frith Street in Soho! But probably eating ramen with my whole Singaporean family in Tokyo last November… (funny story: whilst I was there, I remember thinking “Wow, all these people wearing facemasks looks very cool and futuristic… I’d like mask-wearing to come to London!”)
What’s your favourite tipple? Is it wine, beer – a cask-aged malt?
So I actually don’t drink a lot, because I get the ‘Asian Flush’, I go VERY red when I drink…. but I found out that doesn’t happen when I drink Saké, so that’s my drink of choice now! (I know, so dreadfully, DREADFULLY Hipster-y….)
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?
Oh, that’s easy, INSECTS! I’ve always found insects endlessly fascinating, and with the delightfully thorough David Attenborough, I’d want to learn about every insanely crazy, poisonous, vicious, alien-looking insect there is. Spiders that use the dead bodies of ants to disguise themselves, hornets that inject their eggs into caterpillars that eat them from the inside out… I’d want to see it all!
What’s in your pockets?
I wear cargo trousers, so there’s a whole lot in here! 3 face-masks, keys, a multi-tool, 2 lighters, 2 sets of headphones (one wired, one wireless), my wallet, a reusable bag that folds up extremely small (called the nano bag), and a powerbank.
Pen and ink, pencil and paper or keyboard and screen? What’s your writing style?
Haha, why choose? Typing is fine, but I enjoy doodling and taking my own notes, so I got a Remarkable 2! It’s a tablet made just for writing and drawing, no apps or social media, just drawing. It’s a joy to write on, and it doesn’t distract you from work, which is great for me, because I’m really, REALLY easily distr- Ooh, look a butterfly!
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?)
Dave Harland’s a top-notch copywriter on Twitter, he does fantastic copy, and also trolls Linked-in recruiter bots, and his copywriting newsletter is well worth getting in your inbox. But apart from that, I mostly read books to learn different tones of voice, ranging from the perfect grammar of Kazuo Ishiguro, to the hard-to-decipher but brilliant Scottish phonetics of Irvine Welsh!
Tea – or coffee? What’s your poison?
I much prefer coffee… but you don’t grow up in Dave Trott’s house without learning to make a decent cuppa, unless you want an hour-long East End lecture on how to make a good cup of tea!
Do you have a favourite cup or mug? Can you describe it?
I do actually, it’s a mug with a china knuckleduster on the side as a handle – massive and very comfortable to hold!
What was your most adored children’s book? And character?
It was a book about construction workers called ‘Let’s get to work!’, which is ironic, because I’m a lazy git now. Dad would read it to me, and I’d always shout out the line that’s repeated all throughout the book, ‘LET’S GET TO WORK!’ Drove Dad up the wall having to read it again and again…..
Your favourite word?
Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. Yes, it’s a real word!
Your most loathed word? (You know, the one that makes you shudder and say “Ew!”?
…. Pustule. Ugh.
Where can we find you? – Browsing online or lost in the aisles of a bookstore?
You can definitely find me infinite scrolling Reddit, TheAwesomer, Gizmodo, Engadget, Geekologie, Medgadget and other weird sites!
Favourite song lyric of all time? And why?
Ella Fitzgerald – Manhattan “The city can never spoil, the dreams of a boy and goil” (girl, pronounced like Popeye would say it)
Name the artist who is guaranteed to get you up on the dance floor.
Daft Punk are my absolute number 1 favourite band, and I’ve been lucky enough to see them live TWICE. But apart from them, Franc Moody, Vulfpeck, Pomplamoose, and also Me & My Toothbrush.
Do you have any strange writing rituals you’d like to share with us?
Just taking regular breaks from writing, and coming back to it fresh. I find sometimes I force myself to sit and continue to work on something when I’m not in the mood, and it always slows me down. But a five-minute break to distract yourself, and let you step back from it for a moment ALWAYS helps me.
What are you working on today? What’s in the pipeline?
Currently working on doing all the website copy for a great new phone tech accessory company that should be done soon. Also, I’ve really been enjoying being a part-time driver for my mum’s food waste initiative: she collects food that’s going to go to waste from local supermarkets and delivers it to local soup kitchens and food banks.
Can you describe the last photograph you took?
The last photo I took was of the tv, when CNN was showing secret service agents with their guns drawn in the Capitol building, pointed at the Capitol protesters that had broken into the building and fired on them… A genuine piece of history.
What piece of advice really changed you as a writer?
Three words from my Dad: “everything has value”. I used to think all the things I enjoyed weren’t of any worth, like video games, or The Simpsons. But those three words from Dad made me realise I can use all of these things to learn from – The Simpsons (seasons 4-8) has some of the best comedy writing there’s ever been, and I could take inspiration for video games for visual ideas for posters and TV scripts. Everything has some value to it, if you look hard enough.
What was the last thing you wrote that had nothing to do with your job?
I wrote about a wooden maze, that’s covered in a hydrophobic coating that repels water, so you can put a droplet of water into the maze instead of using a metal ball… it’s incredible to see.
What’s your favourite quote about the process of writing?
“Nothing will work unless you do.” Maya Angelou
Who is your favourite Mad Man – or Woman?
Roger Sterling – he had all the best quips and retorts.
Can you name your favourite film – and tell us why you love it?
Who Framed Roger Rabbit? – is and always will be my favourite film. It’s so good, I watch it now and it’s such a technical masterpiece I still don’t know how they did all the effects. It’s funny, it’s stylish, it’s action-packed, scary and sad, and still goofy as hell. And Bob Hoskins doing an American accent is GOLD!
Which book or books is/are by your bed today?
‘Communication Secrets of a Hostage Negotiator’ by Richard Mullender
Who was or is your greatest teacher?
Mr Aston, my old Design & Technology teacher – an ex-submarine mechanic who loved to laugh, and believed in me more than I did myself.
Who is your favourite artist?
Sebastio Salgado – The world’s greatest photographer in my eyes.
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?
Definitely prefer working at my own desk…. but that’s probably because I like being distracted!
And finally, where can this caffeine-fuelled audience find you?
@mc372 on Twitter
Jade’s and my portfolio: jadeandleetrott.carbonmade.com