Just as handymen, doctors, and many other professionals have their toolboxes, copywriters too, have their weapons of choice. Albeit most of our support tools are digital, we would find it difficult to work without these assistants of ours.
These are some of the Truesix team’s favorite everyday tools, followed by quirky tips that boost our creativity.
1. Google Docs
Google Docs is more than just a tool - it’s our canvas, the paper we write on. We consider ourselves lucky to be living in an age when editing, sharing, and commenting on documents is made as simple as 1-2-3.
Whenever a draft is ready, we share it with the rest of the team and make suggestions for each other’s work. And, finally, we send the doc over to the client who also does their share of commenting.
All edits to Google Docs are auto-saved online meaning you won’t lose your work even if your PC sets on fire. Besides, you can also write while being offline – all edits will be saved the second you get an internet connection.
Seriously, we are in love with Google Docs (you don’t want to see our faces when someone asks us to use Microsoft Word).
Nothing makes a text duller than a word or a phrase that keeps repeating over and over. If you’d rather not sound like a broken record, look for synonyms in the good old Thesaurus.
Did you know that Thesaurus also offers antonyms and definitions and examples of your word used in sentences across the web?
Even the best writers make language mistakes, and each of us has weak spots. You may be overusing passive voice (like I do), or have the habit of writing overcomplicated sentences. And typos, well - they just happen to the best of us.
That’s where Grammarly comes in. It doesn’t only check your spelling, but also suggests synonyms, improves sentence constructions, and highlights overused words. In fact, Grammarly can substitute Thesaurus to some extent - it won’t offer a plethora of synonyms, but often one of few suggestions will do.
And just like good wine - it only gets better and better with time, becoming smarter and adding new features, browser extension being one of the latest.
This may seem like an obvious suggestion but it does prove itself useful on a daily basis:
If you are not sure about anything, just google it.
I’m not only talking about fact checks or getting background knowledge on a topic. You can also use Google as a tool for double-checking language-related questions, for example, if a specific sentence structure or phrase exists.
Other times you may want to check if the phrase in question isn’t overused. When deciding on a headline for an article, you don’t want to choose a cliché or a phrase that has already been used by your client’s competitors.
Idioms and expressions can make a text richer and add new dimensions to the topic. When I look for catchy subheadings or when I feel that a paragraph needs some refreshing I look for idioms for the topic at hand. The Free Dictionary is always a good place to start.
For example, imagine you are writing about a problem of some kind. Trouble is a synonym for a problem and there are numerous idioms about causing or having trouble.
6. YouTube or Spotify for music
Music is an integral part of many copywriters’ digital toolboxes. Your choice of music for work may be altogether different than what you listen to in your free time.
Krista from the Truesix team listens to classical music (mostly piano) when she wants to focus. I have a Spotify playlist with relaxing music for work that’s either instrumental or has lyrics in languages I don’t understand.
Our former colleague Kristine used to listen to ASMR while working - here's how it impacted her productivity. In short - any kind of music that blocks other distractions and boosts your productivity will work great.
7. A notes app (or a physical notebook)
All of us take notes and write down ideas when creative lightning strikes us. Our teammate Julia uses the Bear app or a physical notebook.
Krista believes that the best ideas come when you are unable to write them down (e.g. when you’re driving or taking a shower). She uses a voice recorder on her phone to note ideas and later makes a transcript from her recording.
As copywriters, we are far from being design pros. But writing blog posts often requires adding visuals or stock photos. For the latter, we use free photo databases like Unsplash or Pexels. But what if we need to make a simple collage or add text to an image?
Aiva is the Canva pro of the Truesix team. She says: “Canva is literally THE easiest online design tool there is. And honestly, Canva has saved us many times when there was an urgent need for a customized visual and no designers on the horizon.”
Some quirky tips from our team
Copywriters are creative peeps, so we do admit to having some quirks. These are some weirdly effective tips from our team of writers:
Get a keyboard you enjoy typing on
Julia has always emphasized the importance of having a “pleasurable keyboard” - one that makes writing even the most dreary pieces a satisfying experience.
For her, the shallow keyboards native to Mac keyboards are the way to go, but there are other people who love the deep touch typing offered by classical, older-style keyboards (you know, the ones where you have to push down for nearly a centimeter to type the letter).
A change of timing or scenery
We usually split a creative task across several days because every day brings a new perspective on the piece. Besides, different environments can also help get the creative juices flowing - I even made an experiment to prove this tactic works.
Krista often goes for a walk or takes a shower (perks of remote work) when she’s stuck with an article. While she’s at it, she talks to a recording app on her phone - should be a peculiar sight, right?
Try eating at the computer
This tip is so weird that it took me several years to notice that the creative part of my brain works better when I eat. Now, whenever I feel stuck with an article, I reach for a snack (or bring my lunch to the computer).
NB! Not the healthiest habit, so keep it for extreme writer block situations. If you are against this for hygiene reasons, take a notebook with you to your lunch table.
Create a structure first
Starting a new writing task or a longer article may seem overwhelming at first. I have discovered a tactic that helps - start with creating a structure for the piece, even if you don’t have anything to say about the topic (yet). Format the headlines, subheadlines, and other sections of text, even if they don’t make any sense yet. You can use placeholder texts if that helps.
Seeing such a “representative” look to your article is a psychological trick (or so I believe) that removes the stress from seeing a blank page or a chunk of unformatted text (that clients call a “brief”) in front of you.
Furthermore, as you are putting your chaotic thoughts on paper, the embryo of your article is actually forming - and you are on your way out of the woods.
Share your tools & tricks with us
A writer may seem like a lonely profession, but how could it be with all these digital assistants always ready to speed up our work?
Note that we’ve found these tools and tricks (especially the quirky ones) to work individually for each of us. They may or may not help you, and you definitely are able to find your own wacky tricks for boosting creativity.
What tools or tactics do you use for finding inspiration and fighting writer's-block? Tell us in the comments!