The rewriting process


Luke Sullivan, veteran copywriter and author of Hey Whipple Squeeze This: The Classic Guide to Creating Great Ads, states on his blog, “100% of everything you create in this business will be second-guessed and 95% of it will die.” Well, I recently took part in meetings where a first piece of copy in a campaign written by a team of copywriters from an affiliated insurance company took that same exact route: the piece was second-guessed, and completely died. This didn’t happen throughout a typical series of agency/client meetings either. This happened during a series of new partnership meetings between two big name insurance companies (which I will not disclose) affiliated with my current employer. One insurance company kept on completely changing everything the other insurance company would create, or as Luke Sullivan would say, they would “be asked to re-solve the same problem they just solved.” It was kind of awkward being the middleman in the many phone conferences going back and forth between these two giant companies, but there was something I learned from this experience.

Every time the team of copywriters’ creation would “die,” they would go right back to the drawing board, and after rewriting they would come back expecting more feedback and more revisions. Then after getting feedback from numerous departments, affiliated companies, and coming back with a new draft for the new partner company, more suggestions and more revisions would be made. Then after that, the piece would go through another review all over again. And that is exactly why I like the creative process. It takes a special type of person (at most times a special group of people) who is willing to constantly go back, rewrite more, get feedback, and rewrite again until it is perfected.

This might just sound like ridiculous insanity, but realistically this is the creative process. When working with big companies, with many people, with many different backgrounds, and many different perspectives, you will not get one single “right” answer. This is why I like advertising and working in a creative department.

There are no “right” or “wrong” answers, however a well thought out campaign can easily be seen. The creative process is a collaboration of critical thinking, recreating, and being open to criticism. I’m not saying that everything you create will have to get changed based on the criticism you receive. You have every right to defend your work, especially if you have the support to back it up. I’m just saying that keeping an open mind and persistence is essential for survival in this business.

Sullivan, Luke. “How To Last in a Tough Business Filled with Rejection.” Web blog post. Hey Whipple Media Commentary, Musings, & General Crankiness. Hey Whipple ©All Rights Reserved 2013, 6 Nov. 2011. Web. 25 June 2013.

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