Copywriter’s Confession: I Get Cold Feet When I Write Hot Copy

by Lorraine Thompson

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Copywriter’s Dirty Little Secret: Sometimes I panic about work.

Maybe angst sets in when I’m working on a mongo copy project—and I feel buried alive in words and information.

Or when I’m tackling a spanking new medium or complex industry.

Or when a server glitch floods my inbox with 50,000 pieces of email, my dog throws up on the foyer rug and I’m on deadline. Happened.

At these moments I get cold feet. Literally.

As anxiety rises, my body temperature drops. My hands cool. My lips go blue. And my feet turn to ice.

Thankfully, these mini panic attacks pass quickly: Self-possession returns, copy gets written and deadlines are met.

Too bad my toes don’t warm as quickly as my confidence. My subzero feet require first aid.

Warning: Transparency ahead.

This is a blog, so I aspire to Trust Agency, transparency and Showing My Humanity in All Its Mundane Glory. So be advised, you’re about to get a behind-the-website look at my messy home office. You’ll even get to peek into my yellow-tiled, circa 1958—and never-renovated—bathroom.

There. I warned you.

Warming the creative muse—and ice-cold feet

So when I’m chilled to the marrow, here’s what I do:

Soak feet in hot water: When my toes go subzero, I fill a bucket with hot water, haul it to my desk and submerge my feet. Then I continue working. No, the steaming water does not distract me. Au contraire, with feet warm, I concentrate easily. Maybe you think a bucket is crude; I tried more refined foot soaks. My husband bought me an SUV-sized jet-bubble foot-bath massager contraption. But the water never warmed above tepid. I need industrial heat to ease my doubtful mind and melt my cold, cold toes. So I refill the bucket periodically with boiling H2O from a tea kettle. Sometimes I add lavender-scented bath oil, sometimes I immerse straight up. Ahhhhhhhh.

Put on a lucky sweater. Before turning to copywriting, I worked in the theater. Actors are very superstitious and I carry from my first vocation a number of rituals that ward off bad juju. When I get the chills, I don one of my “lucky” sweaters. They’re all over-sized, misfit cardigans that I wouldn’t be caught dead in outside my cave—I mean office. My favorite is a Scottish triple-ply cashmere cardigan. Originally cream-colored, it developed a strange verdigris stain around the collar. When I tried to dye the sweater navy blue, it turned lavender—with the strange verdigris stain still around the collar. I’m crazy about it.

Take a bath. When you’re cold-blooded like me, sometimes the only thing that really warms you is full immersion in a hot bath. But here’s the thing, writerly discipline requires me to put in a full eight-hour work day. I dislike long breaks—ruins momentum—so I don’t knock off work to bathe. I take my copy into the bath with me. Don’t get all ew. I have a tub-side set-up that works beautifully. A vintage breakfast tray on foldable legs holds a stack of research to read or copy to edit. The tray also holds Post-its, pencil, a cup of coffee, a hand towel—don’t want to drip water on my keyboard. Yes, I bring my MacBook into the bath. Or alongside it. Modesty forbids me from photographing the copywriter sur l’eau. You’ll just have to take my word that it works fine.

So, what about you? Ever freak out over your work? What do you do to calm body and mind?

Photo of courtesy of Corey Ann.

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Copywriter’s Confession: My 10 Guilty Pleasures | MarketCopywriter Blog
April 4, 2011 at 7:16 am

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Lori Widmer February 17, 2010 at 7:51 am

I freak out all the time. I have daily and weekly deadlines. The dailies are fine, but the weeklies I have to time just so in order to get to the bigger-paying stuff. So I’m writing six blog posts by Wednesday, not counting my own blog.

I wish I had a lucky something. I have my neon-pink slipper socks that I stuff into my lavender fuzzy slippers (there’s a sight). Wards off ankle chill and I can regulate the heat by kicking off the slipps when I need to.

I have my lucky chai tea – does that count?

Lorraine Thompson February 18, 2010 at 6:22 am

Heck yeah, chai definitely counts. And I like your layered approach to foot warmth–allows for more obsessive concentration without those pesky one-minute respites that break flow.

(Someone shoot me.)

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