What Do You Look for in a Copywriter?

Here is a Japanese answer, by Japanese ad industry veteran, Keiji Nishimura, from the Copywriter’s Bible (New Testament), in which Nishimura and other renowned copywriters pass on what they believe about their profession to young aspirants to it.

Nishimura lists 34 traits that make up the copywriter’s natural gifts

Assertiveness. Must have faith in the copy he or she writes Cockiness. Must be lazy and cheeky. Not distracted. Reluctant to give up first idea. Must be willing to do research. Digs deep into what he writes about. Mental agility. Not stuck in one perspective. Must be able to see things from different angles. Calligrapher. Presents ideas in his own handwriting. Writing shows the person. Good memory. Must remember what other people have written in order not to repeat it. Skillful word choice. A basic skill for a copywriter. A strong stomach. Mustn’t get a stomach ache after having ideas rejected two or three times. Neurotic. Neuroses make the man. Team player. Must be able to work with people with different skills. Be able to take a punch. The toughness not to be hurt by a client’s criticism. Physical strength. Needs the stamina to be able to work through the night. Easygoing character. Doesn’t panic as deadlines approach. Curiosity. Must be curious about all sorts of things. Kanji (Chinese characters). Large vocabulary. Can’t always be writing the same thing. Loud voice. You can’t be successful if you don’t speak up. Strong sense of responsibility. Gets things done on time. Notetaking. Has to be able to listen and take notes quickly. Insight. Nobody is going to tell you exactly what they want. Understands quickly. Doesn’t need long meetings. Likes people. You can’t be a copywriter without being interested in people. Likes to work. You can’t do this work unless you love it. Likes to play. Work is play. Play is work. Gloom. Why is it that most first-rate copywriters are gloomy people? Aesthetic sense. Must be concerned with the quality of the image as well as the quality of the words. Computer skills. Nowadays, if you can’t use a personal computer, designers will hate you. Ordinary tastes. Great copywriters may look strange. But in fact they tend share ordinary people’s sensibilities. Psychological education. The ability to read people’s feelings. Hardworking. Earnest about everything. Suspicious. The ability to doubt everything. Open to flashes of insight. In the bath, on the toilet, wherever. Good at keeping things in order. Needs to know lots of stuff. Also needs to know how to put aside what is interfering. Imagination and empathy. Must be able to imagine what is bothering other people. Above all, perseverance. Sticks to it.

Reviewing this list I see only two attributes, calligraphy and knowledge of Chinese characters, that might not apply in other parts of the world. The list seems pretty comprehensive, and the copywriter it describes a pretty nice, if sometimes difficult, fellow. I wonder how people in other parts of the world respond to it? What kind of person they see?

What about you?

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