The Best Copywriting Advice Ever: Avoid Broccoli Words
This post is part of our long-time series on the art of copywriting. If you want to learn everything there is to know about copywriting as a career (how to make money AND a difference), check out our comprehensive career guide here.
Want to have a long, boring life? Do you want to be a long-winded, sleep-inducing writer? Keep eating (and writing) that broccoli!
Wikipedia says that increasing consumption of plant foods like broccoli decreases the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and overall mortality.
"Bullsh*t!" is what I say.
Sure, if you want a boring meal—and a very long, boring life—eat bushels of broccoli.
Restaurants love to fill your plate with 27 stalks of tasteless steamed broccoli. Why? Because it’s cheap, requires very little thought or preparation and nobody ever complains about broccoli.
"So what?" you say. What does broccoli have to do with me—a budding creative writer! Who cares what I eat? Shouldn’t my creative director care only about how I write, not how I eat?
Young man! Young woman! You are what you eat. And you are what you write!!!!
Everyone in the creative world knows if you eat broccoli, then you probably write broccoli. The same way that broccoli is bland and tasteless, so are broccoli words. Words, words, words—overcooked, ordinary, predictable words—haphazardly thrown together. The typical beginning copywriter fills a blank sheet of paper with broccoli words. And maybe the fledgeling copywriter lives a boring life eating broccoli and writing broccoli.
In the meantime, the broccoli writer is someone that everyone wants to avoid. Have you noticed how their eyes glaze over minutes after the handshake?
Do you realize the creator of homo sapiens designed our species to have a lifetime limit to our vocabulary? True. We have a limited number of words we can use from cradle to casket. We must be very careful—or our overuse of words will turn us into a clone of my old passing acquaintance, "Drab Dan."
I’ve known Drab Dan for over 40 years now and I'm sure he had used up his word limit long before I even met him. Every time I have the misfortune of running into him he tells me the same stories. Now, if he only told those stories once per encounter, that would be bad enough. However, hang around long enough and his very short conversational playlist starts over.
He can’t help it, really. He used up all his available words long, long ago. As a result, I try to avoid Dan as much as possible. Living in a small town does not help matters.
You don’t want to be like Drab Dan, do you? Without a new word to your name? Well, if you want a copywriting position in an ad agency, design company or any place engaged in content creation—scrub that portfolio of broccoli words and cool it with the chatter. Listen to those who talk very little. Because—when they do talk—it’s a gold mine.
And try eating rotkohl (red cabbage) or sauerkraut instead of broccoli. Add a big chunk of Schweinehaxen (Bavarian roast pork) perhaps. Write few yet tasty words, simple sentences with few adjectives and live a shorter, happier, less drab life. Like Jay Z sings in the background:
"Do you really want to live forever, forever…
So let’s just stay in the moment, Smoke some weed, drink some wine,
Reminisce, talk some shit, forever young is in your mind,
Leave a mark that can’t erase, neither space nor time,
So when the director yells cut I'll be fine ...”