Thank you so much for agreeing to be a part of The Writing Desk Blog.
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…
Copyblogger Media’s Chief Content Writer, Demian Farnworth.”
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…)
John Caples Tested Advertising Methods. The other one is Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, which I’ve abbreviated down to his six principles and printed them out to keep close to my desk.
What’s your all-time favourite advertising campaign?
The Jack Links Beef Jerky Messin’ with Sasquatch commercials. These tickle me pink.
“Everyone has a book in them…” Or so the saying goes. What do you think/know/believe is the secret to good writing?
It’s persistence and patience. Great writing is a war of attrition. So much talent out there, but writing to get noticed and published is such hard work that only those with the stomach and thick skin can slug it out (often in isolation) day in and day out will be rewarded. And having a little marketing savvy helps, too.
If you were just starting out, what advice would you give yourself? Which book or books would you read first?
Listen to those who are better than you are. Don’t think you are that great – because you aren’t. Humble yourself, accept constructive criticism, and learn from it. My learning curve would’ve been a hell of a lot shorter if I’d listened to this advice 😀
Silence? Radio? Or music while you work?
What are your top three novels of all time – and why?
- Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift. Because it’s funny – and oh so true. Brutal in the truth he exposes about human nature.
- The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky. Another penetrating book on the human condition.
- Absalom, Absalom by William Faulkner. Elegant and insightful. This is literary writing at its best.
What’s the best thing you’ve ever written? Why did it rock your world?
Man. Everything I just wrote. Until the next day. When I can see clearly. And cringe. And move on. Pushing myself.
What’s the last thing you bought? And yes, that packet of chewing gum counts.
A turkey and BLT sandwich.
Who was your teenage crush?
Duran Duran. Then there was that gal Stacy in middle school who didn’t understand that the summer break meant a sabbatical in our relationship. Would explain her cold response when I said hi in the fall when school started back up.
Describe the best meal you have ever eaten.
Man. There have been a number of occasions I told my wife “That was the best thing I ever ate.” But, for the life of me, I can’t remember exactly what it was she made. It was around beef, I’m sure.
What’s your favourite tipple?
I had to look that one up. It would be coffee.
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?
Iceland. Beautiful country with a very small population. And it’s cold. I love the cold.
What’s in your pockets?
Nothing except for my wallet. I don’t like things in my pockets. Go light, I always say.
Pen and ink, pencil and paper or keyboard and screen? What’s your writing style?
Large documents almost always start on keyboard or screen. Inside WordPress or Google Drive. I do keep several notebooks, and I’m not afraid to write a lot in them. I like writing with a mechanical pencil. And drawing.
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?)
Besides Copyblogger? No.
Tea or coffee?
See my answer to number 11. Why? Because it gives me personality. 😀
Do you have a favourite cup or mug? Can you describe it?
I have several, but my most favorite is one with a photograph of my daughter catching snowflakes in a butterfly net.
What was your most adored children’s book? And character?
Man. I can’t remember reading children’s books. They made me read encyclopedias. I didn’t complain.
Your favourite word?
Your most loathed word? (You know, the one that makes you shudder and say “Ew!”?
Serendipity. Because it’s a buzzword.
Where can we find you? – Browsing online or lost in the aisles of a bookstore?
Mostly online, but lost in the aisles of the library, too.
Favourite song lyric of all time? And why?
Probably every line in the song “Destination” by The Church.
Name the artist who is guaranteed to get you up on the dance floor.
Anyone who spins electro or drum and bass.
Do you have any strange writing rituals you’d like to share with us?
Strange? I don’t think they are strange. But I can’t write unless my desk is clean. And I need about two hours of reading and meditation in the morning before I start work.
What are you working on today? What’s in the pipeline?
A business parable about running an online business. A side project on the value of suffering. Preparing for a daily podcast on writing.
Describe the last photograph you took.
Picture of me eating from a four-gallon drum of mustard potato salad.
What piece of advice really changed you as a writer?
Don’t be lazy. Take the time to explain fully what you mean in a clear, concise and compelling manner. It’s not how long an article or sales letter should be, but is it interesting.
What was the last thing you wrote that had nothing to do with your job?
A handful of tweets on a secret Twitter account I have.
What’s your favourite quote about the process of writing?
Kurt Vonnegut said, “When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.”
Who is your favourite Mad Man – or Woman?
I never watched the show. So I don’t know. Do you still like me?
Name your favourite film.
The Truman Show.
Which book or books is/are by your bed today?
My Bible. A commentary of the Bible by Matthew Henry. A book of Puritan prayers. And the tortured diary of Native American missionary David Brainerd.
Who was or is your greatest teacher?
Who is your favourite artist?
Vincent Van Gogh.
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?
At my desk.
And finally, where can this caffeine-fuelled audience find you?
Thanks so much Demian. TOTALLY with you on the Duran Duran love 🙂
Coming soon… (Copy)writer and best-selling author, Andy Maslen’s Writing Desk.
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