The odd thing about the “jack of all trades, master of none” clause is that it only works for certain professions. Supermodels, for example, are encouraged to “diversify,” because they won’t be in demand forever. Makes sense, and many, like Christy Turlington and Cindy Crawford, have been quite successful. But what if you diversify first, then try to specialize. If you‘re a writer, it’s hard.
I’ve always said that I was lucky to have had jobs that involved writing in one capacity or another. The problem is there have been so many capacities. I’ve written articles, captions, headlines, brochures, flyers, press releases, ad heads, ad sub-heads, body copy, web sites, concepts, short stories, Q&As, scripts, poems and so forth. For a while, I preferred journalism, but advertising paid more, so I went into it through a series of fortunate encounters. Then, last May, the big-ass agency where I worked as a junior copywriter lost their biggest clients, and I was one of the casualties. When it happened, I figured it was time to make a move back to journalism after a 3-year hiatus.
I got lucky. A job opened up at this prestigious magazine and it seemed to be a right fit. Plus, I’d get to work at a prestigious magazine to boot. Granted, I’d be working for the web site, but the magazine’s name is still attached to everything I do, and it feels great!
But the thing is, not only have I not been writing articles for three years, I also haven’t been corrupted by the magazine’s style.
Today, I handed in a piece to the magazine’s editor-in-chief, just to get her feedback. She told me there were some cute bits, but mostly I was “too PR.”
“You try to hard to get it right,” she says. “Don’t write right. Write like you. Write what you like.”
I don’t think I’ve ever done that, and it’s bloody hard! I don’t always know what I write like. I just write, and I’ve never asked if I was in there.
Still, what an exciting challenge. Maybe I haven’t been me in my texts before, at least, not when describing a hotel or restaurant. But I’m sure I’m in there somewhere.