A copywriter writes copy.
A copywriter does not "copywrite" (verb).
A copywriter does not write "copywrite" (noun).
days both words are creeping into the vocabulary. Let's nip that in the bud.
It's simply not the language of our trade. I'm not a fan of needless jargon, but if we're going to use it, let's get it right. Using tradespeak incorrectly immediately shows you're an outsider. In my decades' experience in the ad biz, no creative director ever assigned me to "copy write" something, let alone have I ever written "copywrite." (Nor "copywrote" or "copywrited" any such thing.) As a writer with lots of business-to-business experience, I understand the importance of turning tradespeak into plain talk. I also understand that talking the "good talk" can make a reader feel at home. But coining new words that are neither plain talk nor helpful jargon is simply awkward.
"Copywrite" as a verb is not in three mainstream authorities (Dictionary.com (Random House), MerriamWebster.com (notoriously liberal) and AmericanHeritage.com (relatively conservative)), and the first of these gives you a URL for "misspellings." Dictionary.com's format and sourcing has changed since I originally researched this, with some discussion there now gone. But what it once said is worth noting. In the "reference" link, "copywrite" was shown as various trademarks, and as an improper substitute for other words, such as "copywriting." In any case, it is not shown as a verb.
And as a noun, it was explicitly rejected. A discussion under "copywritten" did say "copywrite" is "sometimes used [as a verb] by professionals," but this professional of 30 years' experience has never heard it where it didn't expose the speaker's industry naďveté. The correct noun is "copywriting," as in, "Copywriting is an interesting profession."
How can "copywriting" exist if no one copywrited (copywrote?) it?
Sometimes the English language simply doesn't take the path you might expect. For good reason. There is a significant difference between a man well-hung and a man well-hanged. If a plane flies into your airspace and then departs, we say "flew out," but if a baseball player hits a fly ball that is caught, he "flied out." That's just the way it is.
Does a sign painter "signpaint"? Does a bricklayer "bricklay"? No, they don't. And a copywriter doesn't "copywrite."
I'll grant, it's not totally logical, but when you view the copywriting in someone's portfolio, be assured it was not "copywritten."
Good copywriters say it shorter. I have nothing against long copy (obviously), or long words. But I do object to using more words or longer words than necessary. Every authority agrees from leading creative directors to your high school English teacher. "Copywriting" as a verb says nothing that "writing" doesn't say. (Watch for my upcoming article Use vs. Utilize, followed by a third in this series, Coming vs. Upcoming.)
Silliness and nitpicking aside, it is the wrong frame of mind. A good copywriter should never set out to "copywrite." That would suggest a process that is somehow different from other writing somehow artful, "addy," hyped, dumbed down, sugar coated, normalized, or whatever.
That's exactly opposite to what good copywriting should be. Good copy should be transparent. Copywriters simply "write."
Real copywriters develop personal communication. Focus on the goal, not the process. We might use any of the tools other writers use, and work in any of the genres other writers work in. There are some tools we tend to employ more often (e.g. short paragraphs, bullets, incomplete sentences, plain language), but whether we're creating a trust-building, down-home tone, or generating "killer copy," the last thing it should feel like is "copywriting."
Whatever you choose to call your text or script, call
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