The Writing Room Soundtrack

As you might have heard, we’ve got a room now. Having a proper headquarters has pros and cons. Con: we have to buy our own biscuits. Pro: we get full control over the snack table. Con: we’ve had to learn how the printer works. Big Pro: we get to choose what’s on the stereo.

And so, drunk with power, we’ve made a playlist that we think sets the perfect tone for writing. The music that makes it onto here has to walk a tricky line: It’s word-free, but not boring. It’s calm, but it’s not listless. It has beats that keep you ticking over nicely without having to get out of your seat. And there are full albums, so you can get into a flow.

We think we’ve cracked it, and this music will make your emails at least 75% more effective. But see what you think.  


Jack S

One of my favourite work-related quotes (never thought I’d write that sentence) is: work is something you do, not somewhere you go.

In fact, it was one of the founding principles of Writing Club.

It’s the perfect counter to the classic problem of presenteeism – something I’m sure we’ve all experienced in our careers and maybe even taken part in: the need to appear busy so we can be seen as hard workers.

We’re always hearing about how busy we all are. So busy. Mental. And yet the studies show that despite British workers putting in the longest hours in Europe, we’re the least productive.

There are wider debates around the four-day week and the rights and wrongs of John Maynard Keynes’ predictions but one factor which must play a part in our low productivity is our working environment – or, in short, the distraction machine that is the modern office. 

It’s not hard to find articles and opinion pieces bagging open plan offices (‘Why work never happens at work’ etc.) But we think there’s a lot of truth in it. The fact is, modern offices don’t seem particularly conducive to doing any actual work!

Which makes the news that we’re getting ‘an office’ somewhat strange.




At the risk of sounding pretentious, we’ve decided not to call it the office.

Because we don’t want an office. We don’t want office politics. Or gossip. (Well maybe a bit of gossip is okay.) And we definitely don’t want presenteeism. But most importantly of all, we don’t want people to have to leave in order to get work done.

We want somewhere that will help us do great work. A place that aids concentration, allowing us to work when we’re at our best and be productive and efficient so we can lead fulfilling lives. We want a Writing Room, not an office.

So that’s what we’ve got. It’s opening this week, in Clerkenwell. And we have a great way of judging its success: if you have to leave it to do great work, it’s not working.

Time to put it to the test.

Everyone's In Advertising

Jack S

I was looking at a friend’s Instagram feed the other day, thinking to myself ‘that is NOT the person I know…’ 

It made me a little bit annoyed at first.

But then I thought, isn’t that just advertising? Isn’t she just doing for herself what we do for our clients every day?


She’s projecting the aspects that are most interesting/attractive and leaving out the bits that are boring or potentially off-putting.

 Every single day, more people than ever before are doing this, and becoming experts at advertising in the process.

I’ve heard it said that our bullshit filters are more finely tuned than ever before. And that’s because we’ve become the bullshitters. We do it every day. We pump out comms, analyse the results in realtime, hone our message and see what sells. Truth is secondary to results on social media.

So maybe it’s time to stop thinking about our audience in terms of segments. Instead, let’s just think about them as a room full of cynical advertising execs. That’s essentially who we’re speaking to now.

So the question becomes, how would you sell to them?

The truth seems like a good place to start. Not the flashy, non-specific glitzy claims we so often get told to put into our copy. Not a humblebrag. But the honest truth, well told. It’s amazing what stopping power this has in today’s world.


There’s a great book called Scientific Advertising*. Chapter 7 is about the power of being specific.

The gist is that generalities leave no impression whatsoever. People recognise a certain licence in selling talk – and forgive some exaggeration. So we can say “supreme quality”, “unbelievable prices” etc. without being judged as liars. It’s just that no one believes you.

But a brand that makes a specific claim has to be either telling the truth or lying. (And actually, with bodies like the ASA etc, we don’t expect advertisers to get away with lying.)

So a specific, or fact-based claim can hold more power than any slick-sounding sales patter. 

Why not switch off social media and give it a read before your next brief comes in?


*Scientific Advertising was written in 1923 and is still making as much sense today as I’m sure it did then.

Unboxing possibility in Shepherd’s Bush

Tam R

At Writing Club, one of the things we’re best at is getting stuck into our client’s offices. We’re a mobile bunch, ready to up sticks and settle down wherever there’s space for us. For some, we’re already part of the furniture, for others, we’re limited-time-only desk buddies.

I’m becoming a regular fixture at recipe box company Gousto, whose current TV and tube ads are exciting a nation of food fanatics. Every week their in house team crafts 30 brand new recipes, ready to send out to rapidly growing customer base.

My arrival is well timed – as one of the UK’s fastest growing businesses, they’ve just moved into a new office. It’s got hanging plants, an ultra dynamic coffee machine, and is packed full of developers who make UX look like an art form. There’s always at least three languages being spoken at once, which puts into perspective the way I grapple with one.

Copy jobs have been as varied as you’d imagine, food being a deliciously volatile subject matter. There’ve been tight turnarounds on managing mustard and practicalities with prawns, and there’s plenty of exciting Christmas chat too.


It’s all very mouthwatering being here, but what’s been learned in three weeks? It’s been a while since I’ve had a regular Monday-Friday, but being back on the daily has been a welcome re-immersion into office life.

There’s a lot to take in at Gousto, because making sure their customers are cooking up delicious meals is a mere slice of the lettuce. There’s making sure recipes are easy to read, clearing allergy information and getting the checkout process as smooth as possible. It’s an all bodies on deck operation, and a daily reminder that with all great products come all great (and hardworking) people.

Watching the buzz people get from a great incentive is a pleasurable thing to behold. When I’m working remotely, I can set up the world’s best office in my kitchen. But (from time to time), it’s nice to be amongst the many, to throw ideas around in person and, if nothing else, to sample a sneaky peek of a new recipe.

Getting the best of Callum: The Writing Club Surf Club Surf Trip® 2018

Club Notice regulars will know that the WCSCST® is a fixed feature of the Writing Club calendar. Surfing is to us what bullfighting was to Ernest Hemmingway: a way to prove that we’re not just wussy writers. Oh no. We are people of the deep. Ocean goers. Wetsuit wearers. Riders of the ridges of the raging seas.


 So when we heard that Storm Callum was making his way down to Cornwall, we raced on the Paddington-Penzance train to meet him there, boards in hand. No meteorological event was going to stop us from getting our kicks, no matter what his name was. We were ready to conquer.

As it turned out, the wind was blowing in the wrong direction and the waves were mostly actually quite small. And that was fine. We had a lovely time. Great hot tub. Wonderful bar.


I’ve got UX under my skin

Jack W

One of the advantages of the way we work is that it gets us into all sorts of different spaces with all sorts of different people.

This week I’ve been with a tech start-up, writing micro copy for a new football app. It’s meant getting deep into UX charts, wireframes and flow diagrams with web developers and designers, thinking about the best things to say to people at every stop along the way.


There’s something in the digital people’s approach to design that’s helpful for all sorts of writing. Everything is seen as a step along the journey – it all sits in the context of everything that has already been said and done. Nothing stands alone.  

When you’re writing for an audience, you’re always asking questions about them. How much do they already know about what you’re talking about? What have they experienced of it up until this point? What ideas and feelings did you give them along the way? With UX, it’s all right there, mapped out.

 Maybe we need more of that. If we all understood everything in terms of some great real-life user experience diagram, maybe we’d stop working in isolation. We’d stop boring people by saying too much or mystifying them by not saying enough.

What I’m saying is, it’s all a journey, man.

So why write novels when we should be writing signposts?

Introducing our newest writer...

Jack W has recruited an exciting young Writing Club member, who we’re keen to introduce.

This is Agnes Bea Wells, born on Saturday 28th July.

Her portfolio needs a bit of work, but we’re confident that she’ll be ready for all your writing needs in no time at all.


How To Rob A Bank: Writing That Gets Stuff Done

Good writing can get anything done. So yesterday we took the EE brand team to a shady underground pub and taught them how to rob a bank.

It’s a new training course we’ve been working on: a way of teaching genuinely useful writing skills that’s also a bit fun. There’s no shortage of boring corporate training courses out there, but we think this is something genuinely different.

It’s not a ‘How to be a copywriter’ course. We’re not trying to make competition for ourselves. It’s a course that uses copywriting skills to help all kinds of teams communicate better and get things done. Through the means of a good old-fashioned bank heist.

It went down well with the team at EE. If you think your team might enjoy it, get in touch.


  Fight For Your Right to GDPR-ty

Tam R

No doubt you’re waking up every morning to an onslaught of GDPR related emails.

No doubt you’re swiftly hitting delete.

Not Writing Club. We’ve been hawk-eyeing with diligence.

Certainly, most times out of ten we’ve raised an eyebrow and hit delete.

But, there has been the odd occasion when we’ve not (immediately) thought GDPissRightoffmate.

So here's our run down of those who did it well.  Here's to heartfelt copy, punchy subject lines and unashamedly strong TOV, wherever it may lie.

You have our vote, even if you don’t have our data.  



As swiftly acerbic as we’d hope the largest and most unforgivingly grey building in London would be.



A thoughtful one, taking what could be an incoherent block of words and breaking it up with colours, emojis and some easy to digest copy.



This is honest and personal. Bolding what’s important early (taking your privacy seriously) and following with what they’re doing to prove it.


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You rotters! Boiler Room led the way with clickbait subject lines. The early bird catches the data.

And while we’re at it…




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Gentle copy, gentle image; it’s a pretty soft, romantic email that’ll capture the imagination of holiday makers. How many people forgot their terrible train service and signed up remains to be seen.



Calling an email inbox “this sacred online space of yours” probably raised more than a few eyebrows but TOV is undeniably powerful here.



Casual punning, casual self-promotion; NTS is playing it cool, and it’s working. Nonchalant, just like that little kiss at the end.






D&AD Short Form Copywriting for Impact, Revisited.

Tamara spent a day at D&AD last week, checking out their Short Form Copywriting course. She shares a couple of nuggets from the day here.

“There are two types of writer. Those who write, and those who talk."

Workshop leader Will Awdry puts himself in the latter category, and after a day spent revising ‘Short Form Copywriting for Impact’, I think I do too.

As Writing Club, we use words to deliver action. As its newest member, I figured a day spent in the D&AD basement would be as good a place as any to immerse myself in the art of using less for more.

It’s phenomenal what you can do without a WiFi log in, and actually talking about ways to use words taught me far more than an average day spent in front of a screen.

For example: have you ever noticed the amount of collusion in medical advertising? Though it’s a way of avoiding responsibility, remedy pushers give questions, never answers. Making you come up with a response is guaranteed mental rental – for an extra second at least.


Pair that with the knowledge that the average Londoner remembers 1 in 13.5K adverts a day, and you’re looking a whole load of question marks.

Did I leave with an idea that’ll make the next Writing Club ad that 1 in 13.5K? A day of learning from peers and mentors left me feeling closer. My work was challenged and given new legs from fresh eyes, praised and questioned in equal measure.

Writers learn to work in solitude, which meant that sharing ideas proved both invigorating and challenging. No-one could remember the time when open plan offices actually encouraged collaboration, and it made feedback all that more potent.

As with all good ideas, I’ve been mulling over the ones this particular D&AD session left me with. They’re sinking and swilling, sure to be dredged up when it’s time for our next 1 in 13,500.

Full-Speed Advertising with EE

EE found out on Friday afternoon that they’d been named the Sunday Times Best Big Company to Work For 2018. It’s a big achievement, and well deserved.

They were given an ad on the back page of the paper to celebrate. We were given the brief: something celebratory, but not too braggy. And they needed it fast.

At times like this, EE’s in-house creative studio (that we form part of) really comes into its own. This ad was written, designed, reviewed and signed off in a matter of hours, ready to land in the newspaper on Sunday morning.

Congratulations, EE. Number one might just be the beginning, but it’s no bad place to start.


Selling With Style

We often hear that the best way to actually sell stuff is to cut out the words and just put price slashes in huge red letters.

So sunhats off to Virgin for their “Seize the holiday” campaign. A bright spot in an otherwise samey sales season and further proof that good writing can sharpen the pointy end of the process.

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