I love country music. As a kid growing up in East Yorkshire such a passion was a rarity and despite the concerns for my social development my dad kept feeding me country music till that fateful day that I started buying my own. He sat back in his armchair with a sigh of contentment; his work in raising me was done.
Here’s just a few of the lessons I’ve learned from country music and how I think they can be applied to being a freelance copywriter.
Be A Gun-Slinging, Whiskey-Drinking, Saloon-Door Kicking Rebel
The country songs I loved told stories of outsiders; misunderstood strangers who didn’t fit a system. As Willie Nelson explains about the cowboy:
“He ain’t wrong, he’s just different, and his pride won’t let him, do things to make you think he’s right”
The heroes of these songs marched to their own tune regardless of the trouble it brought them (and from gunfights to women wanting to leave or kill them, they have a lot of trouble). Their spirits can’t be tamed and they don’t apologise for it; it’s this ethos that also makes an excellent freelance copywriter. Most of us have shed jobs to feed our hungry souls with the work we love to do. We just want to write great copy and help businesses this way. We’re uncompromising in our desire for this dream and so deliver our best work time and time again to our clients to keep them coming back. It’s the only way we know how to be.
Find Other Rebels And Tear It Up In A Tavern
So you’ve decided the way of the pen is for you, you’ve stopped ignoring your dream and decided to go it alone. Now’s the time to find a posse.
“What? You just said cowboys were drifters who went it alone”
That’s true, but along the way you’re going to get tired, you’re going to get lonely and you’re going to have doubts. That’s round about the time a cowboy walks to his favourite bar, orders a whiskey from the barkeep and waits for Curly, Josh, Jake, Lester and Earl to show up. There’s usually a little banter, great stories, some music and a lot of fun. The cowboy leaves in the early hours feeling uplifted and ready to take on the next day. You need this. You can find people in your field like other copywriters, or just spend time with people who make you feel good about yourself. Stepping out from the crowd puts you in a position to decide who to spend your time with, think about this carefully and pick a good posse.
When You’ve Been Fired, Your Dog’s Died and Your Woman’s Left You – Keep Going.
Country music tells stories of heart ache, hard luck, down and outs, betrayal, infidelity, death…the list goes on and you might even find a song that includes them all. They shine a bleary light on the resilience of human nature and copywriters can learn from this. There will be times when the words don’t come, the gig falls through and the mortgage payment is round the corner. Keep going, keep writing and keep searching for more work. Even in the good times search for more work because the wind can change at any moment and noone knows that well enough than the heroes and heroines of country music.
Never Forget That Red-Head In Tulsa. AKA: Always Have a Dream
There was always a red-head or a Mexican beauty that the hero cherished and hoped one day they might settle down together against all odds. Now…quite often those cowboys never did settle down with that lost love, and sometimes they even died trying to be together as in the epic gun fighter ballad El Paso. That might not be incredibly inspiring, but that dream kept them going. That dream put passion into their lives and gave them a reason to wake up each morning and face the day.
That dream is important. You will have days when you wonder why you’re doing what you’re doing, why you’re trying to find that elusive last few hundred words of the article and it’s at these points you need to be able to think of your dream, visualise it till you can almost taste it. Imagine you’ve achieved it and what it would be like. Then get back to it.