The Lessons of Copywriting from Charles Bukowski

It’s hard not to have a strong opinion when it comes to Charles Bukowski. There are plenty of people, who criticize him for his lifestyle and his views - and there are just as plenty of those, who adore his writing.

But even if you dislike Bukowski as a person and wouldn’t want to live like him, there’s still something you could learn from him. Bukowski might not have been a good person - but he definitely was a good writer. And while he never actually did copywriting for a living, he could still teach copywriters something.

So here’s what you can learn from Charles Bukowski:

1. Clarity

Long copies could be good and catchy - but only when they are long for a reason. If you’re writing a copy that has a lot of important information and is clear and brief despite its size, that’s great. But if you’re struggling to make a copy bigger just so it would look more serious - please stop.

These days people simply cannot afford to spend a lot of time reading a copy that doesn’t offer them any instant value. Their attention span is short - shorter than it was when Bukowski wrote his stories, which was still very clear and up to the point. So you should keep this in mind and find a way to instantly captivate your readers and give them what they expect.

And while you definitely don’t need to explain everything to your readers, you shouldn’t confuse them as well. So not only the main idea of your copy has to be delivered quickly and clearly - the writing itself should be clear as well. Don’t make it complex and always try using the words people are used to.

2. Honesty

Of course, being a copywriter, you need to write compelling copies that indeed sell. But this still doesn’t mean that you should exaggerate or simply avoid being honest in your writing.

This might seem like a choice that is too bold and too dangerous for your potential career - but no one asks you to emphasize the ugly truth. Even that could aid your brand, as people actually like honest companies, but if you’re afraid this won’t benefit you - at least refrain from including some unchecked, exaggerated or untrue information into your copy. Yes, your product might look a little less appealing because of that - but you’ll be sure that you indeed offer your customers all you have. And they’ll appreciate your honesty as well.

Bukowski is a great example of honesty. He always wrote the truth, even if it was unpleasant. In fact, he was mercilessly honest about himself - and while this might not be the thing you’re looking for in your writing, this could be a great inspiration.

3. Persistence

Many people know that it took a lot of time for Bukowski to become a successful paper writer - but still, it never hurts to repeat this inspiring story. Though he had a couple of stories published when he was still young, his following stories were constantly rejected by all publishers. At some point in his life, Bukowski even stopped writing for 10 years straight.

However, after 10 years passed, he resumed writing. And it still took him a while to get his stories published. In fact, it took him a lot of time and a lot of rejections - but he didn't stop. He didn’t have the simplest life during that time but that didn’t stop him.

This applies to copywriting as well, especially if you are a beginner. Your copies won’t be great from the start, your copies might not always work - but you still need to remain persistent and try different approaches if you want to succeed.

4. Discipline

Just like I’ve said above, it took a lot of time for Bukowski to start making money with the help of his writing. Of course, this doesn’t mean that he hadn’t any jobs until then - on the contrary, he was working and writing after work, no matter how tired he was.

While I definitely don’t encourage you to take such challenge, I would like to point out that Bukowski was very disciplined - and that, along with persistence and impressive writing style eventually helped him to succeed.

A good copywriter doesn’t simply write well - they are also very disciplined. Learning how to overcome writer's blocks so they won’t lead to you missing a deadline is just as important as learning how to make your writing more catchy and persuasive. And even if you won’t be able to do this quickly, you’ll still overcome this challenge with time as long as you focus on it.

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