When I’m not writing, I love playing tennis.
At best, I could describe myself as an adequate player. I’ve no real talent but I’ve been playing even longer than I have run ProseWorks. I know my way around the court and how to extract the best results from my meagre abilities.
When I do pull off an unexpectedly good shot, I’m transfixed. It’s almost as if I suspend disbelief as I try to draw as much enjoyment and pleasure out of the moment as possible.
The problem is that I also stop watching my opponent and fail to anticipate what’s going to happen next. Inevitably, what I thought was a tremendous shot is matched and bettered by the opposition and I lose the point.
It’s analogous to life at ProseWorks.
However pleased we are with a piece of work and however much we may be lauded by our clients, we can never sit back and enjoy the moment too much. What’s been written (and invoiced for) is in the past and gone, and our focus must always be on what we’re doing now and in the future.
Obviously, it feels good knowing that you’ve just done a great job.
But, to extend the tennis analogy, there’s no point playing a few blinding shots if you follow them up by sticking the ball in the net.
I have little patience with the old cliché about only being as good as your last job. Of course I get it; we all have to resist the temptation to marvel at past successes or we’ll lose sight of what’s up ahead.
But I think it’s more helpful, and keeps us more sharply focussed on the present and the future, if we adjust that maxim a little.
The key to running a successful copywriting business – and any successful business, I suspect – is to see every new task as an opportunity to adapt, change, improve, do even better.
So in tennis, I need to learn to focus on the next shot. And as copywriters, we need to remember that we – and our clients – are only as good as our next job.