Tag Archives: writing

I Spent a Week Freelance Copywriting, Here’s an Overview

I haven’t posted in a while as I’ve had some paid work which I have been getting through the online freelancers site ‘Upwork’.

As you can imagine, it’s been a busy time, but now, after spending some time creating copy, I’d like to share my thoughts on the experience so that beginners thinking of entering into copywriting can get a sense of the good and bad.

Copywriting is a very odd sport. What I essentially was tasked with doing, was reading various sources on a topic, consolidating and interpreting the information, then regurgitating it in a unique and stylistically consistent fashion.

The benefit here is that you get to learn about some really interesting and obscure subjects. Some particular highlights were learning about the Indian stepwells, which are cultural shrines to the abundance of water and even some work on improving social media engagement for small realtor businesses.

Copywriting is a generalists delight, and you can really begin to wrack up some very fascinating bits of information, researching and writing on request.

This is by far my favourite aspect of the work and something that can really expand your general knowledge and make you a better writer altogether.

Speaking of being better at writing, I really have noticed a vast improvement in my writing for blogs in the last week. There is something very purposeful about research for copywriting that can start to encourage a focus and engagement with the topic, not always there by default. I know better, how I can apply what I know to my writing a week on from starting. This is really positive.

You gain blog post formatting experience and begin to build a roladex of format types for blogging. Five Must See Tourist Attractions in China, Ten Tips for Better Work Life Balance, How to Save for a House etc. Making use of the many ways a blog post can be formatted is an incredible benefit of copywriting. It can help diversify your list of options when approaching a topic or idea and this is extremely positive toward the end of becoming better at writing.

Now, on the bad side, and this may not apply to all, but certainly did in my case, some of the subjects can be tedious, even boring at times. For those of us who need to become passionate about what we are writing on, this can be a major drawback. There were times when I felt really disengaged from the task, but I always persevered and completed the task with professionalism. Some may find this aspect easier or harder to bear than me, but I did find some elements really creatively flattening.

Pay is a drawback when freelancing. My first job was low-pay for jobs that were taking up a lot of my time. I didn’t mind doing this to an extent because I was getting experience and that may be the case for you too, but for others, the low paying requests can be a real problem.

Your work is also dependent on your communication with the client. I did not experience an issue here, but I would say that it is advisable to ask lots of questions, so that you can clarify what they are looking for. Especially at the beginning of a contract it is vital to establish the customer’s vision and stylistic conventions

I’m loving the site so far and have earned a little money on the site for my work. I’m continuing to build good connections and a portfolio and would encourage anyone who feels that they have a moment to try Upwork for some experience.

Copywiritng isn’t so bad or mysterious after all and there are loads of things, like general knowledge and formatting experience gain a massive boost. Pay can be low and some of the subjects can be tiresome on the other hand. Nevertheless, it’s been a great experience overall and I would high recommend to anyone interested!

Happy typing,

J

How University Ruined My Relationship with Writing and How I Got It Back

Story time, handsome people.

I graduated with a History degree in the summer last year.

Three years. Three, gruelling, tedious, stressful years.

History is a great subject. I love it dearly. But, sadly, what I don’t love is the University system, forcing a sunshine child like myself to hide amongst the yellowing, withered tomes of a dusty library. I can feel my skin stretching into parchment just thinking about it. Moisturise me, I’m starting to look like Cassandra.

I just wanted to dance and sing and bask in the sunshine, the nature, moss, trees and birds. It was agony to be inside, a recluse tasked with reading volumes of books at such a pace that any and all would gasp for a breath.

Truth be told, I struggle with reading. The educational psych said something about my processing speed. I’m a bit slow you see, and reading is often exhausting and challenging, especially when I have to read anything that I don’t initially have an interest in.

I was constantly reprimanded by my department for going off topic, for flagrantly ignoring the essay question, but honestly? I didn’t care. If I couldn’t do just that at least sometimes, I would have turned to dust (melodrama who?).

My Universities motto was: ‘In Limine Sapientiae’. It means ‘On the threshold of wisdom’. Well, it should have been ‘On the threshold of boredom and beyond‘. Reading was such a chore, an enforced chore. The worst kind of chore.

To add to all the laborious library prison time I was subjected to, I had fallen out with writing altogether.

Writing became, how can I describe? An extremely stressful, unpleasant and limiting exercise, all the things I have since realised it is not. Because support was poor, I was left to fend for myself, trying to gauge the right kind of style, direction and tempo for my essays. My anxiety levels were extremely high. It manifested in obsession with re-drafting minute word choices. With cutting and editing chunks of text. With a chronic sense of dissatisfaction in everything I produced. Writing was wound and bound with my ever increasing levels of depression and anxiety. They were inseparable.

My dissertation was, let me find a metaphor, like stabbing myself repeatedly and hoping to divine, from my own gore, the direction to take. I was suffering with the worst depression I have ever experienced for the entirety of my final year. Bringing pen to paper, even sitting down in this restless, unfocused and painful state was almost impossible. I submitted two weeks after the deadline. My final extension was not even enough to force me to work until the final five days. Something switched. The fear, sufficiently gripping, pushed me into a frenzy. I didn’t see anyone for five days except to leave my room for a bit of food. I was up the entire final night. I handed in my submission, exhausted, miserable and utterly finished with education.

The whole experience of writing at university had so upset me that I didn’t even go to my own graduation. These three years had been tiring and lonely, I had all but withdrawn from daily life. I was, at the same time, furious. How could the education system fail me so extensively? Support was minimal and I had even experienced cruel and callous departmental sanctions for my truancy (actually depression, dissolution and social anxiety). I would have burned that paper certificate, had I not worked so hard against these odds to complete the course.

Still, I struggled to reconcile the practice of writing, the stress of university and the cold overseers in the department, with the idea that I had succeeded. To this day, I still struggle to look at that certificate with anything other than contempt.

After this time, I began to work full time, not in a job I wanted to do, but in something with a routine that paid reasonably well. I started to heal a bit from the experience. I started to go to counselling, started to eat better, started to meditate more, started to be more comfortable around other people. My only real experience with writing had been as a student and within the frame of an essay. I had also written a few articles at university and some personal blog posts on this site during the time, however I had not reached a point where I believed that writing could help do anything other than prove a point. I had not reached the point I am at now, where I believe that writing is better used to heal and to teach.

I think a shift in perspective and being outside the bubble of the institution taught me to re-frame writing. To use it for myself as a way to learn about who I am and what I can do in this life.

I have to add that I do have University to thank for the discipline and development of my relationship with language. If I had not entered into it in this way, I do not know whether I would have gained so many tools to command it. I can communicate what I mean, but I am no longer confined by the restraints of a sluggish system which does not cater to someone like me. It is looking optimistic from here, as I continue to search for what inspires me. Christian Mihai’s blog, The Art of Writing, talks about pursuing your values in your writing and using it to help people. I hope that my experiences and reflections will help myself and others find and keep their passion in writing.

In time, I do not know what shape this blog will take, but hopefully, with a new found passion and enjoyment, a direction and purpose, it can only take even more beautiful forms.

Find your bliss and use writing as your map,

J

Write a letter, start a revolution.

Dear reader,

I was talking with a friend I met through a poetry group on Facebook the other day. I was deciding to leave the platform and, as always, he had a novel suggestion. I had asked for his details because I wanted to stay in touch with people off the platform. If you look at my previous post Facebook, what have you done to us?, I decided to leave Facebook for various reasons, ethical, behavioural and psychological. His idea was this: ‘Let’s write a letter to each other’.

I thought to myself how peculiar that was and was meditating on the idea a bit. Why have we stopped writing letters? Well, the clear answer is that the internet does it faster. Sure, the internet has revolutionised communication but is that a good thing?

We used to take time to think and reflect on all the amazing things that happen to us in the weeks and months. Carefully, we’d curate a picture of our lives that showed all the most meaningful experiences we’d had lately in the two-fold process of consolidating and processing it for ourselves, and sharing with others.

I thought about what it would be like to receive a letter that was not about doctors appointments or bills, written in an individual font, addressed to me, the person, not me, the body, number or consumer. I came to the conclusion that writing letters to close ones is probably the most counter cultural, revolutionary thing young people can do in an age saturated by technology, and so coked up on its own sophistication, it’s losing any meaning or value it might once have had.

So here’s my challenge to you. Write three letters this month. Really think about your life and what has happened. Share it with those you care about but don’t see often enough. Tell me in the comments below that you posted it and that you’re taking up this counter revolution against technology. Heck, if you want, post a selfie with your letters! It’s nice to get feedback that we’re making changes! We need to slow down and think at the speed of a letter.

Share this article with friends and family. We’re re-writing the future, one hand-written letter at a time.

Yours sincerely,

Julian

Contact us if you have ideas or would like to share your thoughts on society.

University – A Psychopathic Institution?

Psychopaths come in many flavours, all of them dangerous, but there’s a common thread that strings them together. Psychopaths create personas to hide behind, they might be the pleasant co-worker who asks you what you did at the weekend, or the cheery neighbour who always says ‘Hi’ with a smile as you’re leaving the house. Psychopaths have no empathy, they don’t feel anything for others, and they work hard to keep it a secret until it’s too late. Psychopaths are punishing, they act with cool rage and crushing retribution, delivered with full force, no remorse, and no warning. Psychopaths are dangerous because you can never tell where you really stand with them, until it’s too late.

Universities, too, are a little bit psychopathic, and here’s why:

Before getting to University, I was sold a face that didn’t match the interior. The open day was a bright and happy affair, bloated with opportunities, glowing reports, shiny presentations, and cheerful students. The reality was nothing like it. Fresher’s week, a thoroughly bizarre experience, left me swept under by feelings of isolation, sadness, and confusion, in the wake of excess intoxication, no sleep, false friendships, and having to deal with the behaviour of students even less well adjusted than myself.

Seminars were awkward, uncomfortable silences, intermitted by an equally uncomfortable lecturer’s cajoling – to no effect. You could sense nobody wanted to be there. Exams came, I’d never felt so wrong. Existing, just, on caffeine, sugar, the promise of a restful summer with no essays or exams, and pure-bliss freedom. The relief came and went in an instant. I sat on my chair at 10 am, after being up for nearly two straight days and laughed. Hysterically. The summer lacked its promise. Where was the rest? Gone with the thought I’d not make it to year two. How did I know I would, when I wrote my 24/48 hour exams not feeling at all like myself? I didn’t trust Mr Hyde, the maniacal, caffeinated creature, to do me justice.

So that was year one. Sunshine and daisies? Hardly.

The flowers only grew on the grave of my stable sense of self, the sun revealed the camber of the newly disturbed earth beneath. And the face of the establishment fell. I knew that University was filled with hollow promises and veneered smiles. It came for the person I was and smashed it to pieces. A sledgehammer of insanity, it walloped me.

Am I the only one to take a bludgeoning? I don’t think so.

And what did it offer me as recompense? There’s the open door team. You can see them a couple of times a term, if you’re lucky. There’s your supervisor, untrained and helpless to help. There’s the groggy, sluggish system, which punishes poor attendance, but prances prissily around the issue of mental health support. I don’t even know where I stand with it. Who makes up the rules and more so, where are they?

So, for me, university feels like something pretending to be what it’s not. It left me to fend for myself psychologically and emotionally, and in confusion, caused by the dissonance between perception and reality. It didn’t care that I wasn’t coping. If it did, there would be the necessary infrastructure to support students in crisis, but the reality is, it doesn’t exist. The rapid pace, lack of support, and brutal examination periods has left me, and many other students battered. I didn’t realise until it was too late, and I’m part of a bigger problem. It’s happening to students everywhere.

UPP student survey for the Guardian found that 87% of first year students struggled with some variation of mental health issue. Of this figure, almost half (44%), reported feeling lonely or isolated. We are facing an epidemic of psychological illness at universities across the country. Universities are not doing enough to support mental health issues, and we need real change here. With an institution that hides behind a cheerful, sun-beam persona, obliquely avoiding the issue of mental health, and smashing students to bits psychologically, university is a lot like an anti-social monolith, and it must work with students to learn how to feel again.

Millennial Intent: We’ll be trying for victory, not victimisation.

This is Millennial Intent

Why are we here?

A prevailing sense of apathy, hopelessness and self-mediocritisation amongst millennials has persisted for too long and has been ratified by the media and the preceding generations. MI hopes that millennials will begin to reclaim their voices, their presence in this world, and their sense of pride in themselves. Aside from that broad aim, we are a platform for the discussion of ideas. We do not support Political Correctness or the idea of safe spaces and trigger warnings. Our content will explore some of the dark stuff as well as the light, but the point is that discussion breeds resolution. Censorship is the enemy of our generation, and if we want to bring ourselves into our place in society with power, dignity and kindness, we need to create places where censorship has no power. We hope we can at least contribute to this end by establishing an online community that supports these values and encourages individuals to claim back their often drowned out voices.

What do we do?

We write articles on millennial matters. We are starting off slow, but we want to pick up steam. This is a collective activity, but we want to be clear that we do not support collective mentality. Our articles are aimed at unique, insightful, thought-provoking topics from intelligent and independent authors. Is there a limit on scope? No! We write about anything and everything, but want to make sure it has value and intent towards the largest goal – making millennials mobilise. We want to kickstart hearts and minds with our material and that central idea underpins our creative works.

What can you do?

Because we value the individual millennial opinion, we welcome amateur writers, artists and content makers in general to get involved. We believe in collaboration and growth. If you have an idea that you want to share, we will listen. If you don’t agree with something someone else said, we will let you have your say. If you want to contribute, we will help you find a way to get into that position. What sets us apart is that this is about you, the individual voice in the crowd. So, keep that in mind. If you’re not used to writing, we can give you guidance. We want lived experiences, new insight, creative design. Learning how to put it into words is the last puzzle piece and if we like your unique insight, we won’t hesitate to give you the time and energy to get your words in order.

So, this is where we begin, and we’ll be posting more soon. Start following us to start reclaiming your voice. Let’s change minds and take back our power.

Millennial Intent.

To write for us send an email on the contact page and we’ll get back to you asap. Contact us!