We live in fast moving times where instant satisfaction has become the order of the day for many, especially in the services sectors where decisions have to be made in a matter of seconds. One leading restaurant operator once said his staff had about 10 seconds to resolve a customer’s complaint before they had lost them for good.
This is increasingly the case for others, such as printers, technology providers and creatives, who have traditionally enjoyed longer timeframes.
However, nowadays people are demanding faster turnarounds than ever before.
For some this is a lot easier than done. Others rise to the challenge.
I was talking to a couple of authors the other week about how fast they write first drafts. One said he could pen 75,000 words in a month or so, knocking out between 3,000 and 4,000 words a day. Apparently, he’s in good company. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, Jack Kerouac’s On the Road and Graham Greene’s The Confidential Agent were all written within a month. Casino Royale by Ian Fleming took two months but the creator of James Bond subsequently shaved a fortnight of the rest of his 007 books.
Context is always helpful though. Jack Kerouac’s On The Road was based on extensive journals written in small notebooks as the writer engaged in a series of road trips so much of the work for the quick first draft was already done in advance.
Although I am never normally that prolific writing professional or as a novelist, I once wrote a 32-page brochure for a client in-between the two episodes of Coronation Street on a Monday night (which also included making a coffee).
However, like Jack Kerouac’s extensive preparation, I was only able to write the copy quickly and instinctively because I had spent the previous six months handling the PR account for the owner of grey market fashion retailer, Barneys.
During that time I got to know the business and people inside out so when we wanted to create a positioning brochure the prose literally flowed.
The key for me, and Jack, was investing in the time to research our copy giving us plenty to digest what was happening around us and then writing about it.
I still love this brochure today because it also shows how great black and white, moody documentary-style photography from Joel Fildes inspired the fun words. Originally it was planned to be a third A4 gatefold but graphic designer Ray Webster added his creative input and we upped the pagination to 32 pages 165mm square.
Incidentally, the brochure captured the imaginations of a couple of fashion retailers and entrepreneurs who would evolve into Boo Hoo but that’s another story.
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