Editor’s note: Toby Donaldson joined Adpulp.com as an Emerging Voice earlier this year. He has since fully emerged. Toby is now a contributing writer. This is his latest piece.
Screaming into the void? Keep screaming.
There are more advertising blogs on the internet than stars in the night sky. Surely, they can’t all be getting sufficient readership, response, and interaction to make them worth it.
Countless people, just like me, are screaming into the digital void, seemingly without purpose.
Why do people in the creative industries write articles? Is it to raise their profile, show up or show off? Possibly.
Some may write for recognition, but I think there’s more to it than that.
The simplest requirement of advertising is to communicate an idea so that an audience can understand it (and ideally care about it). Writing (as well as arguing in a pub) is one of the best ways of practicing this. We need to hone this skill, just like any other craft.
Look around you at the communication you see in the world. Notice how much of it instantly washes over you. Think of the number of billboards, retargeted ads, posters, banners that are completely meaningless, or worse, annoying. It’s our responsibility not to be like that. It’s bad for us, bad for our reputation and bad for our clients – not to mention a colossal waste of money.
I’ll admit that sometimes I’m ashamed to say I work in the field that I do. I talk to surgeons, lawyers, and engineers over Christmas dinner and gain an understanding of what they see as advertising – and I’m not surprised they have a pretty negative view. Most of it is pushy, unclear, creepy, out of touch, boring, or just plain ridiculous. That’s a pretty hefty problem. But we like problems, we solve them, that’s our thing.
Just like anything else in life, there’s no shortcut to the end. You have to crawl through the mud, struggle through the brambles, and clamber over fences to get somewhere. Writing is a great way of training in communicating ideas – that’s why hiring managers often ask if you write. It’s also the hard way.
Just like a surgeon will train by stitching grapes, or a lawyer in studying past cases, an engineer testing the properties of different alloys – writing is one of the best methods we have at our disposal to get better at our jobs. You don’t have to be a Tannenbaum, a Trott, or a Weigel. You certainly don’t have to be a Hemingway, a Woolf, or a Kerouac. You just have to practice.
It’s not easy, and it’s certainly hard to keep your chin up when you’re doing something seemingly fruitless. Just like with many things in life, remember the value is in the process, not necessarily the result.
Who knows – maybe someday someone will stumble across your musings somewhere and get the inspiration or the nudge they need to carry on that day. Knowing that this is always a possibility is a strong motivator. Writing, when well-practiced is a service to others. It may feel like screaming into the void sometimes, but it’s not. Good writing from clear thinking is a tonic for the writer and the reader.