September 08, 2017 @ 12:00am

Micah

Micah has a Bachelors and a Masters in Creative Writing, as well as an Associate’s Degree in Graphic Design. He's written for newspapers, literary journals and other printed and digital media, and he taught writing for three years. He has worked as a landscaper, book seller, teacher and other, stranger jobs. In addition to a human family, he has a dog, a cat and four chickens.


 

1. A lot of people look at a blank page and feel an overwhelming sense of dread. I’d imagine you look at one as an opportunity. How do you approach a sheet of white paper? 

I’ve never had a problem with writer’s block or getting started because I had a lot of teachers who instilled in me a willingness to fail. That sounds kind of bad, but I’ve never had a problem writing something that, on its face, really has no place in a story, or, for that matter, an advertisement. One of the great fallacies of writing is that the muse just whispers perfect prose in your ear. Writing is a mess. I once filled out a death certificate for a character in a short story I was working on, filling it out down to the last detail. It was never going to be in the story, but it helped me imagine the character more clearly. Blank pages are great for that. Getting out all the ideas, good and bad. Failing in the right direction.

2. Developing concepts is your bread and butter, how do you come up with your ideas?

I start with research. We’re in a time where it’s almost inexcusable to not be original because you can simply search the internet to see if an idea is already out there. That said, I find a lot of inspiration in what other people are doing, especially the really weird and fun stuff. (That brilliant Toyota safe driving app comes to mind.)  I write a lot of word lists and doodle because drawing has always fired up a different part of my brain. But really, concepting is about working quickly and not sweating the details until you have an idea that really rocks. If it makes me smile, it’ll probably make someone else smile. 

3. How do you develop a brand tone for all the different clients you work with?

One of the most useful ways to establish voice is to build a verb list that syncs with a client’s values. A hospital will have a much different list than, say, a bank. Verbs are the heroes of language and getting them right is big. I have great Account Execs who—through their experience with the brand and their work in building brand architecture—give me a clear idea of the brand’s values, which makes voice kind of easy. I know who I’m talking to so I know what kind of sentences and vocabulary to use. To that end, brand personas are big. They give an abstract thing—language—a firm basis in research and fact. 

4. How has copy in the digital age changed the way you approach writing?

I come from a background where reading tens of thousands of words in a day is really no big deal: If a story is good, I’ll read all day without coming up for air. In fiction, your reader wants diversion and so getting them invested in a story is relatively easy. With a lot of the advertising out there, you’re trying to attract the attention of a reader who kind of doesn’t want to give you their attention. (I can’t tell you how many digital ads I panic click on, trying to click the X before the messaging appears because they frustrate me so much.) Attention spans are so short and advertising is so ubiquitous. Digital really makes you have empathy for the reader/viewer. They’re going to see a hundred of these ads today. How can I make that experience valuable for them and profitable for the client?

5. What is the most unexpected aspect of being a copywriter that people are surprised to find out? 

We have our fingers in everything. I’ve talked to people that have the idea that the copywriter gets an assignment and hides out in the nerdery with a thesaurus and just hands off copy and that’s it. Really, we’re there from the very beginning of a concept to the very end. We help develop brand voice and execute everything from tiny little static digital ads to great big campaigns. And the really cool part about copywriting is all you really need is a pad of paper and a good pen. 

6. How does 6AM think differently?

As a smaller agency, we have the benefit of doing a lot of cross pollinating. If I want to talk to the Account Execs about strategy, or to our social media expert about best practice, I don’t have to schedule an appointment. I can simply walk into anybody’s office and get the benefit of decades of experience. It helps a ton with thinking about a project in a fresh way and I think our clients get the benefit of all that knowledge and expertise when they see the results of their campaigns. 

 

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