Dealing with feedback and criticism is part of a copywriter’s lot. That said, it can be soul-destroying. It makes copywriters conservative.
Nobody helps you with the first draft but after you’ve toiled away everyone’s a critic. We hate that so we’ve written a Critic’s Oath which may turn the tide of feedback from subjective to constructive.
It also shows that you take your writing seriously. You may want to pin this on the noticeboard in the office kitchen or read it aloud over the intercom on the hour, every hour.
Hootville’s Critic’s Oath
Writing is a lonely and often thankless task. Scribes toil away isolated and ignored, only to have strangers and colleagues throw in their two cents worth by the dollar, just as the presses are set to roll. We humbly offer this oath as a way to ensure your criticism falls on the side of constructive not destructive.
Please cast aside your News Limited tabloid, be upstanding, hand on heart as you forget what they taught you about writing in school and recite the following:
I promise to be a good critic. This doesn’t mean I shall praise everything put before me but it does mean that I:
- will sit down to read the words wearing the shoes of the intended audience – not my own – as good writing is all about the audience;
- find ways to reduce length, never add;
- endeavour to add interest, humanity and excitement;
- value “effective” over “nice” understanding that being direct, quirky or challenging is more important than being pleasant;
- clarify and correct factual errors and clear up confusion;
- understand that changing: “Reserve your place today.” to “Call today to reserve a seat.” improves nothing;
- will refer to and respect the original brief which specifies the purpose of the communication and the approach of the writer;
- respond quickly and with certainty as deadlines wait for no one.
Thankyou. You are now a better critic and a better person.