For Hemingway, it was solitude in nature, and Orwell enjoyed nothing better than catching TB in a dingy bedsit to influence his writing – throughout the ages writers share common behavioural traits that seem to define what it is to be a natural wordsmith.

You know you’re a writer when expressing yourself in the written form is an all-consuming urge. It’s inescapable – like when you ask someone graphically-minded to express complex ideas they instinctively begin to doodle; we assimilate and express our ideas in the noble sentence, albeit with a little more diligence in our scribblings.

Ernest Hemingway sat writing at a desk

Photo by Toronto History


So here are some common traits which I’ve observed are inherent in good writers, authors and copywriters. These are intended to help you choose the right freelance copywriter for your project or perhaps nudge you in the direction of becoming a writer yourself if they resonate with your outlook on life.

Writers take things apart to understand how they work

Like humanity’s sentinels, writers watch and wonder why things are the way they are. They mentally dissect what makes people tick and turn their observations into artefacts that help people make sense of the world.

They’re obsessive about it too, immersing themselves in their arena of interest, compulsively analysing what they find with childlike fascination.

Naturally this helps writers hold a mirror up to society and lay bear the truth behind pressing issues of the day. But it also makes us perfect conduits for other people who find it harder to express themselves, or feel overwhelmed in the detail – being too close to what it is they need to write about.

Copywriters are dreamers

Fiction is the playground of writers, whether it’s creating a vivid new world in fantasy or reimagining reality were things a little different.

It’s the bedrock of empathy too – the ability to see the world through someone else’s eyes, to grasp their hopes and fears. And that puts lot of power in the hands of writers. Once you know how someone ticks you can influence them and change their minds by appealing to their core values.

This trait comes with great responsibility though, and writers haven’t always used their talent appropriately. But thankfully there are contentious copywriters out there who present the truth as they see it based on the facts. They’re driven by their underlying honesty and want to help people arrive at their own, informed conclusions.

Writing is a release for copywriters

Ask any decent writer; after observing or absorbing information and thinking it over, writing is therapeutic.

It’s cathartic, because it’s essentially a form of talking to someone about how you feel, and the reader takes the role of silent therapist in the exchange.

Good copywriters take time to consider their reader though, because it’s they who need to be persuaded or educated on the matter at hand. And when you’re writing about what you know, through research or experience, that message becomes all the more resonant.

Copywriters enjoy solitude

Sadly, this is a double-edged sword. Space to think, imagine and craft copy inevitably means isolation if you’re to concentrate on getting your copy just right. And that’s rarely healthy for a social being.

Some days, after I’ve been alone writing all day, immersed in my imagination and expressing myself to people who aren’t really there (readers I mean, not demons) my wife essentially comes home to an overgrown pet who’s been cooped up for too long in his kennel.

Yet this process of removing oneself from the world to craft a new one is the only way I know to write authentic copy, copy that’s evocative enough to change the way people perceive the one they inhabit.

Writers are walkers

It’s not all about being a tortured genius of course. Writers are also inveterate wanderers – explorers if you like. Dickens of course considered walking as much a part of his writing ritual as sharpening his pencil.

This perhaps echoes my previous point about solitude, but there’s something about the rhythmic distraction of walking that encourages ideas and inspiration to leap out at you. When the legs are free to wander, so does the mind.

In my book The Human Freelancer, I write about our preferred modes of physical relaxation being a crucial part of the creative process (using the obvious analogy of whales getting frisky). It’s the sun that germinates seeds of inspiration sown in a rich soil of research and planning.

Plus, sometimes walking away from a creative problem is the only way to gain perspective and give tectonic forces of the mind the freedom to resolve dilemmas in their own time.

So there you have it. If your freelance copywriter fits the character assessment above then you’ve gained peace of mind when you hire them. Or better still, if this all sounds like you then congratulations – you’re already a natural writer (and I’m out of a job!).