Dear copypuppies,
Before you go all aww-goofy on me because I used the word puppies in a sentence, let me caution you. There is nothing cute in what follows.
Think of this note as carrying three bags full of mixed metaphors and embodying that hated passive aggressive phrase “constructive criticism”. Or consider it a combination of advice and lecture - a lecture titled What This Job Takes. My own weary hope is that you will use it as a guide as it contains a few extremely practical tips and some, as the Jesuits like to say, spiritual direction.
The proof is in the proof reading.
Don’t wait for someone else to catch errors or mistakes - not just your errors. Mine, Jonah’s, Jane’s and Yasmin's. You’re the young sailor at the front of the unsinkable ship. It's cold and lonely out there but it's your bloody watch. Don’t reassure yourself that the captain is on the bridge, watching for icebergs. All you should care about or think about is that you are. Keep your eyes open. You can save the ship. You have to care. More than anyone else. There is no one else. The ship goes down, you go down. You are the watcher in the night. And winter is always coming. That's what this job takes.
Miss a deadline and you’re dead. 
That doesn’t mean I am going to kill you. But someone will. The account manager. The client.  Deadlines are not flexible. They are sacred. You have to come through in time. There are no options. Blood, sweat and tears. Constipation. I don’t give a shit. Make it happen. That's what this job takes. 
Work it, work it, work it.
The only way to ensure you come through on time is by working really hard at writing and ideating. You need four headlines? Write 400. Write, write, write. Be a maniac about writing.  The less you write the more your writing shows that you are not enough of a writer. Write, write, write. That's what this job takes.
Carpe the fucking diem.
Know what I mean? Don’t wait for someone else to suggest a good idea or to solve a problem. Jump in. Jump up. Put your hand up. Grab opportunities. If there are none, make opportunities. With every brief answer the brief. 400 times. Then ignore the brief 400 times. Then, come back to the brief. Give me another 400 lines/ideas/scribbles/brainwaves. Why 400? Well, I like 500 better. If you can keep going. Can you? Here’s the nub of it: if you can really count how many lines/ideas/scribbles/brainwaves you’ve had, you haven’t done enough. Keep going. You never know what you’ll find. A gold lion. A yellow pencil. A raise. That's what this job takes.
Write the wrongs out of yourself.
You want to be good? You want to produce great work? You want to be the writer whose writing they write about? You need to spend 10,000 hours doing the same thing. 10,000 hours ideating. 10,000 hours writing. Every iteration, every hour, makes you better. When you get to 3000 hours you’ll be horrified by the stuff that you’re writing now. When you get to 10,000 you won’t know how to write anything but good stuff any more.  You will have written the bad and the average out of you. That's what this job takes.
Passion makes perfect.
In my craft or sullen art... so goes the opening line from a poem by Dylan Thomas, a poem about whom he wrote poems for. Look it up. You don't read poetry? Well, young 'un, perhaps you should pursue a career as an art director instead. Or, maybe even consider switching to finance (I shall ignore that momentary whine of rage from the Beancounting District). Poets are writers' writers. Words do new things in the stubby stained fingers of these obsessive, ink-bottle-djinns. So. Read poems. Read everything. Make your reading wide. Make your thinking deep. Give a damn. Love the words. Love ideas. Seek them out in poems and rap lyrics and dispatches from war zones. And yes, in advertising too. There is even poetry there. I am not going to tell you where to find it. Go and bloody find it for yourself. That's what this job takes.
The best ad you ever wrote was someone else's.
This is what love's got to do with it. When you love the best advertising ever made, you can quote it or refer to it without hesitation. The best work ever done over the last 10 years - and way beyond that. Think going back 20something years is tough? Ha. You should be familiar with work that was done long before you were born. Tough is going back 60something years. Tough is being able to see the crap that will be done well into the future. Besides, making sure you don't make the mistakes that have been made before is easy. Making sure you don't have the same brilliant ideas that have been had before, that, dear (wo)manwolf, is difficult. So. Immerse yourself. Till you learn to swim in a sea of brilliance. That's what this job takes.
Don't kid yourself kid.
You’re a good kid. You’ve got many excellent qualities. You could do well. You could go far. But you have to rise to the opportunity you have. Make the most of it. Give it your best. Give it your all. Your heart. Your soul. Your sweat. Your tears. Your blood. Even your damn toenail clippings. You won’t regret it. And it's what this job takes. 

That’s it.  

Here endeth the lesson.
And oh, in case you were wondering: Dylan Thomas wrote his poetry for lovers. 
Gavin Barrett is Ideawallah at Barrett and Welsh, a Toronto agency where copywriting is critically important and where young copywriters are raised in captivity, fed a diet of milk, honey and great ideas and then released into the wild again.
The photograph is a rare portrait of 1913 Nobel Literature Laureate, poet and storyteller, Rabindranath Tagore, from the archives of The Hindu.

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