Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Writer Wednesday — Anthony Hewson of AH Copy

Each Wednesday I feature a fellow writer, and not just ad folks. I’m interested in anyone who makes a living stringing together words. Their answers are unfiltered, so I may not always agree with every last bit of advice. After all, what works for one writer may not work for another. But we all need fresh ideas and perspectives to keep growing. Interested? Please email

Anthony Hewson is a freelance copywriter based in Hitchin, Hertfordshire (about an hour north of London), and trading under the moniker AH Copy. When the call went out for interviewees, Anthony responded to my questions quickly—and offered a bit of editing advice for which I am very thankful.

Twitter: @ahcopywriter

What’s your writing focus or specialty?

I’m really a generalist writer. I do a fair amount of writing for architectural and construction firms simply because I spent a number of years working in PR and communications for one of the UK’s leading construction groups; but my freelance copywriting clients range from personal development specialists to helicopter charter companies, from management consultants to software houses.

Writers often take winding career paths. What led you here?

Aaah. Well, I went to university to study drama (acting and writing being my two main loves at school), but had to leave because of financial difficulties. I spent a few years working in IT recruitment for my parents’ company, doing a spot of freelance writing on the side, before landing a role at Kier Group, the UK construction and services company, working in the PR and communications department. That was always a stepping stone in my mind, while I continued to build up a decent freelance client base. I struck out on my own full-time a little over two years ago.

Tell us a little about your creative process.

The first step is of course to get under the skin of the client. Get to grips with their service offering or products; what distinguishes them from their competitors; what their ethos is and who they really are as people.

Then move on to who they want to talk to, attract and engage with. At this point, unless the client has already been hugely organised, I’m in a much better position to establish a detailed brief for the job.

After that there’ll be a spot of research, including their rivals, their industry as a whole, and SEO keyword analysis if appropriate.

Then it’s pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and see which words fall out of my head! A single round of revisions is usually enough to achieve a finished piece.

What do you do when you’re stuck? Any tricks for getting unstuck?

Depends on the nature of the ”stuck”. If it’s finding the right word, digging out Roget’s Thesaurus might loosen the blockage. If it’s more than that, perhaps some more research or just getting away from the job. It’s surprising how many ideas come to you when you’re doing something mundane like the washing-up.

Any side projects? If so, how do you make time for them?

Several. And the answer for the most part is that I don’t. I came up with a charity concept a couple of years ago:, which gets my attention any time I’m nowhere near the computer, and very little when I am. There are a couple of novels I started a long time back, feeling unloved and untouched, and I’ve done a couple of voiceover jobs too.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve been given?

“Make your sentences shorter.” I love rhythmic language, setting a scene, emotion, passion and telling a story. There’s not actually room in copywriting for a lot of that; most of the best copywriting is actually very plain, simple and direct. Note that I say best copywriting, not best writing — so feature articles and longer pieces demand a very different, and for me at any rate, more natural style of writing.

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