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Covid-19 has taught me to worry less (and helped me become a better Copywriter)

Captain’s log, star date somewhere in the last quarter of 2020

If you made any big plans for 2020, bet you feel a right ‘nana. I know I do.

We were going to take an extended (6-8 week) holiday this summer. The freelance copywriting biz was going well and I figured that if I had my laptop and phone, I could work just about anywhere.

So the theory was, for a couple of months-ish, I’d start the day with a sun-drenched swim, check emails over brekkie and do whatever work came my way.

I’d stop chasing copywriting projects, but if they found me, I’d crack briefs between strolls on the beach and lunch by the pool.

Sounded perfect.

Then the big C hit. Not that one, the other one. You know, the big C that’s affected everyone, everywhere.

So here we are about 7 months into Project Weird and, well, I’m still alive.

You are too, so thank goodness for that at least.

March came and it all got a bit serious

When lockdown was imposed, my business imploded. Two retainers were cancelled, half a dozen projects that were in mid-flow were put on ice and clients went into their own personal meltdown bubbles.

Copywriting was way down on their lists, somewhere below bulk-buying bog roll and trying to decipher the latest slogan from our esteemed leaders.

Then it went even quieter. Then quieter still. Until all we could hear were the garden birds. To be honest, besides the scarcity of flour, pasta and hugging strangers, I was starting to enjoy the enforced slowdown.

Six weeks later, the tumbleweed was growing where there used to be dahlias and a red flag popped up in the less trusting bit of my brain. “What if I never get a freelance copywriting brief again?”

Ooh, scary.

Then something magical happened. I just let go and stopped fretting. Like someone with a broken leg who was OD’ing on adrenaline, I went limp and let the pain wash over me without tensing against it.

Then another magical thing happened. The phone started ringing and my email started pinging.

Now, it’s not like I’d stopped working at bringing business in. I was still fiddling with social media, networking, blogging and all that; it’s just that I’d stopped concerning myself so much about the outcomes.

I was enjoying writing self-initiated projects; taking long walks by the sea; giving myself afternoons off, making space to do fun things and catching up (remotely) with old chums.

And the work came in.

Since May (after the big lull), I’ve been pretty busy. Not stressy busy, but very pleasantly busy.

Here’s the highlights:

– Web copy for a video production start-up
– Facebook ad copy for a bookkeeping business
– Naming, positioning and tone of voice for a brand of garden decking
– Three creative pitches for a PR agency
– Web copy for a tech storage and distribution specialist
– A couple of weeks sick cover for a non-profit’s in-house Copywriter
– Web copy for a re-branded AV design and fit-out company
– Naming and tone of voice for two large-scale property developers
– A short-term social media retainer for a small non-profit
– Tone of voice and web copy for a landscape design company.

I’m also collaborating on a children’s book with a couple of creative pals. And at the end of September, I was asked to contribute a video to the Isolated Talks website, in aid of Samaritans:

There have been gaps. But instead of getting all, “I’ll never work again” about it, I’ve enjoyed them. They feel like blessings rather than something to be feared.

If anything, the gaps are fuelling the inner calm, which in turn is making me a better Copywriter.

That limbo-like period between March lockdown and when the briefs started coming back in was a big learning experience. Six or so weeks of remembering how to slow down and trust that the way it is, is the way it’s meant to be.

In a roundabout way, I got my extended holiday after all. It wasn’t by a pool wearing a coconut bikini, but all the same, it was one of the best holidays ever. A holiday from my own worry-pot little self.

At the time of writing, there are threats of another lockdown, full-on Armageddon-style pestilence and a plague of 10-foot killer locusts. But still, the underlying feeling of calm persists.

However, I do realise it continues to be a rugged road for millions of us.

Anyone reading this who’s had to face personal tragedies during this pandemic, my heart goes out to you.

I’m not insensitive to the seriousness of the difficulties that we’re all having to face. But it feels like my job at the moment, is to spread good news and positive vibes.

I’ll let the media look after the rest.

Love and Patience. JW x.

Jonathan Wilcock (that’s me) is a Senior Freelance Copywriter.
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