When people ask me what I do for a living and I tell them I’m a writer, I usually get a bit of a reaction.

“Wow, really?” or “That’s so cool,” have both been heard many times. There’s always an element of surprise, and it makes me wonder what people think I really do.

Do they imagine me sitting at my desk, typing away, words just flying from my brain to the screen?

That may be what’s happening right now, but in reality, that is just not what being a writer is all about.

I’ve said it before — writing takes practice. It’s a skill you have to learn and relearn and learn again. You have to write constantly in order to be good at it. Most importantly, you have to be able to accept feedback and pivot your writing style to fit the assignment.

Yes, writing is all about words, but being a writer, especially a copywriter, takes an assortment of skills you may not register as essential while feeling awed by the wordsmith sitting beside you.


Being a writer is like any job in that it requires you to fit your responsibilities into a larger workflow. As a copywriter, I have to meet deadlines, submit a superior product and make sure I’m constantly communicating with not only my editor but other team members involved in the project.

Time management, attention to detail, communication and grasping the workflow processes are all soft skills that add value to me as a competent and effective writer. Yes, the content is key, but am I meeting my deadlines? Do I know how to ask questions and request information from colleagues? Can I communicate my thoughts and ideas and have a productive discussion when someone disagrees?

I can do all these things well because I work at them. I practice these too. For example, managing my time effectively is ever-changing. As new external factors interfere with my ability to own all my time, I adapt and adjust, keeping one central goal in mind — to turn in assignments on time or a day early. This helps drive how I use my time and even how I organize my workload.

My attention to detail doesn’t come from me doing things perfectly the first time, but from understanding that I need to edit and review my work — sometimes more than once.

Communication isn’t always easy for me; I tend to be a little too direct sometimes, but I know this about myself and don’t always send the first version of an email out so I have time to soften it up a bit. I’m not embarrassed if I don’t understand something, and I’d rather ask 100 questions than do something wrong.

Without having these skills in my repertoire, I would not be a good writer, I’d just be someone who writes well but is terrible to work with.


Another huge piece to being a good writer is how I deal with constructive criticism. It’s a hard and fast truth when it comes to writing that there’s always an editor. There’s always someone reviewing your work who may want to put their own stamp on the piece. Not only may they find grammatical or stylistic edits, but they may not like a certain paragraph or turn of phrase. They’ll mark up your writing with a million edits, suggestions and comments, but it’s how you react to all that that matters.

When I was younger, I was very protective of my writing. I’d quickly dismiss edits, attributing them to the idea that the editor in question had no idea what they were talking about. I’d get offended, I’d doubt myself. Now, it’s not even an issue. You want to make changes to my work? Go ahead. I’m happy to incorporate your edits as long as they’re grammatically correct and make sense. And, while I may tweak your edits just a little, my content is your product, and I want to make it exactly what you want it to be.

Handling constructive criticism/edits with grace is a massive skill all writers should have. You can not agree with something or think a suggested change is ridiculous, but make the changes. Don’t argue unless you have a real reason (that’s not emotional), and don’t ever say anything someone suggests is wrong.

Accepting edits gracefully tells your client you’re a team player who’s willing to do whatever it takes to create a superior product. You’re adding so much value to yourself in this way.


I was just talking to my husband the other day about the skill involved in conducting an interview. I’ve been doing it for a long time, so it doesn’t feel challenging to me, but it’s not something everyone can do effectively. As a writer, you need to make sure this particular skill is top-notch.

Conducting an interview is about more than being personable and getting your subject to talk — it’s about asking the right questions. For me, I always map out my questions in advance and try to have no less than seven. I try to keep interviews to 30 minutes in length and take copious notes, marking verbatim sentences as I write them down. My goal with many interviews is to get all the information I need from the source. I don’t want to have to spend hours Googling and researching, I want you, the expert, to tell me what I need to know.

This is an art form, I kid you not, that you must practice! When given an assignment, and told you must complete interviews, spend time mapping out what you’d like your piece to say. Then, write questions that get that information out of the interview. Ask extra questions just in case, and always end an interview with, “Anything else you’d like to add?”

I type in the interviewee’s responses directly under the questions to keep myself organized. After the interview, I let the information sit for at least a day. I don’t want to circle back and overthink it. Waiting makes it easier to read through the content and allow the story to organically take shape based on the responses I have to work with.

Of course, interviews aren’t the only way to gather information, and for all the other stuff, I’d simply say to know your sources. Go for accuracy and facts, not opinions. If you’re pulling information from a blog writer, search for multiple blogs on the topic to find consistencies which can authenticate your information. Never use social media for research unless it makes sense for your assignment, and never forget to attribute your sources. Even if it’s just with a link, connect the dots if it’s not a thought, fact or idea you came up with yourself.


I am a writer, but, professionally speaking, I’m so much more than what I write. I’m the complete writing package with the skills to communicate, collaborate and collect information to provide you with the best content possible. Make sure you’re well-rounded too.

Photo by Amelia Bartlett on Unsplash