Two cheers for exploitation?

Exploitation is a contested concept. Clearly, some forms of exploitation are far too cruel and should be outlawed as soon as possible. Nonetheless, in western societies it is often those who are not exploited in the labour market who face the worst experiences. People reliant on meagre state benefits for survival endure grim poverty and terrible boredom- as well as being on the receiving end of considerable social stigma.

Facing another day of exploitation, I must confess that I am grateful for it. As somebody may have already commented, it is better to be exploited than not to be exploited at all. There is some dignity in being exploited. Furthermore, there is always the hope that the level of exploitation will decline. 

It is also the case that using words creatively numbs the pain of exploitation. There is something unique about language. The words may not bring in enough numbers, but there is something special about using them. Words are magical in a way which numbers are not. Words can take hold of the imagination and can transport the producer of copy towards a place of serenity.    

 

Elizabeth von Arnim

I’ve just finished reading a novel by Elizabeth von Arnim (1866-1944). It was published by Virago Modern Classics. Called ‘Love’, the book seemed to combine mild feminism and humour quite effectively. However, it was very much a novel of its time. On the positive side, this meant it illuminated some interesting aspects of social history. More negatively, one of the themes was handled in a manner which appeared a little cruel from a modern perspective. This was because it focused on the subject of age in quite an insensitive way. 

There were several passages of exquisite writing, which provided a lot of pleasure. Nonetheless, it was evident that the overall quality deteriorated slightly as the plot became more important than the character development. The novel became melodramatic towards the end. 

In short, it was a book which made you think and which entertained. But it cannot be considered to be a great work of art- in part because of its lack of engagement with many layers of society. In terms of style, Elizabeth von Arnim was very skilled indeed, but if ‘Love’ can be taken as a representative sample of her work, her relative Katherine Mansfield was her superior in that department.     

 

Inspiration

Sometimes writers talk about inspiration. Their creative process is quite different from that of a copywriter. A real artist pays little attention to their target audience. They express something which is personal to them. Their words are not designed to be bought and sold like any other commodity. When a publisher gets hold of their art, this kind of thing is taken care of. So inspiration is a meaningful concept for a novelist.

When it comes to the activities of a copywriter, there may well be flickers of inspiration here and there. Nonetheless, the reality is that it is persistence which is central to the creative strategy. Techniques like brainstorming can come into play. Resources can be referred to for assistance. In short, the production of copy is not reliant on a high degree of inspiration.

Unlike an artist, a copywriter has to craft their message towards what others want. They do not try to challenge the preconceptions of the reader. On the contrary, they aim to satisfy the reader in a simple fashion. A straightforward commodity is produced, without a big intervention from a publisher. Words are used as tools. They are respected, but they are not put on a pedestal.  

 

Feelings on flexibility

As a copywriter, it is essential to be flexible. Most workers have to be flexible these days, and copywriters have had to adapt to wider patterns in the international labour market. Flexibility can be a mixed bag. As it can’t be avoided, it is best to adopt a positive attitude towards it. 

Making the best of flexibility is not straightforward. One strategy is to keep learning as much as possible. Training opportunities should be taken advantage of where feasible. Engaging in voluntary work is rewarding and it can also help you to access training of various types. Online education is another useful resource.

Flexibility can be stressful on occasion. But one of the best feelings you can get is when your work arrives. It really alters your mood. This can only benefit the quality of your copy.

 

Is copy simply the consequence of copying?

As a copywriter, I am asked some odd questions from time to time. This is in part because not everyone has much of an idea what the job I do entails. On occasion, people have implied that I must engage in plagiarism on a routine basis! As I am a graduate, I am well aware of how copying the work of others is entirely unacceptable. Although I no longer use footnotes, I am really conscious of the value of the standards which I upheld when composing essays and other types of academic work.

If producing copy was simply copying then it would be incredibly dull. I could not have sustained my efforts for so long if I did not exercise my creativity. Content which was mere imitation would not have satisfied the people who are kind enough to pay my wages either.

In the UK, we are very keen to establish what somebody does for a living. This may be because our society is quite a snobbish one. Perhaps a meritocracy is a Utopian fantasy, but it is a shame that some individuals feel obliged to put each other down.    

Working at the weekend?

There is nothing wrong in principle with working at the weekend. For example, it can ensure that your Monday does not feel radically different from your Sunday. However, maintaining a healthy work-life balance is a critical issue. If people never relax, the quality of their life and the quality of their work does suffer. Self-employed individuals may have to be particularly careful; they can’t always rely on fixed holidays to recharge their batteries. Hence it is prudent for them to take a day off at some point during the week- even if it is not a Sunday or a Saturday.

Whether you work at the weekend or not, it is really important to try to do something you enjoy. There is nothing worse than working away at tasks which seem futile or frustrating. Taking pleasure in work can make all the difference to you in the long-term. Of course, it is not always feasible to work on things which give you joy, but it is worth aiming to end up doing something of a fulfilling nature.

Certain jobs require a lot of preparation. For instance, teachers in Britain are obliged to spend many hours on bureaucratic activities. These are often carried out at the weekend. Any country should value its teachers. Without them, none of us would have the skills with which to work at all.

On the steady state economy

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As a remote worker, Cheepcheepcopywriter does not travel much. This keeps the carbon footprint down. It also allows time for plenty of healthy exercise outside. However, being active in an urban environment does expose one to air pollution. This means that Cheepcheepcopywriter is something of an environmentalist.

 

It seems that the world requires a different economic system to deal with climate change. Economic growth should not be the overarching aim of public policy. Experts like Tim Jackson have suggested alternatives. A steady state economy is one such option. Considerable academic work has been done in this area. But it needs politicians to have the courage to embrace this agenda.

 

We have to live and work in the world that there is. We cannot live in the world that we would like. Yet being silent is a form of complicity. So it is best to say what we think.