Copy That: My Stylebook Writing Process

As a writer, it’s awesome to work for a company that values creativity. My fellow ModCloth writers and I share an endless enjoyment for puns, metaphors, and wordplay. Want to know more about what we do day to day? Well,  as the Marketing Campaign Writer, my main duty is producing copy for our beautiful stylebooks. It’s a job I love! Here’s a brief look at what I do, and some of my work in progress from our current stylebook, A Welcome Retreat.

Stylebooks generally begin as an abstract concept that Creative team, including Susan, molds down into a concise theme. Once a solid direction is determined, I begin on my very important word list. I just sit down and make a list of words that come to mind based on the theme, letting the letters flow freely from pen to paper. As the project develops with styling, photography, and graphic design mock ups, the list grows and pieces of copy form.

After determining the format of each aspect of the stylebook copy (Should outfit names all be an adjective followed by a noun? Should each page begin with an active verb?), I play around with these puzzle pieces of words I amassed. Sometimes it’s easy to find a word’s complementary puzzle piece, sometimes I need to weed through the pile. Listening to music helps. And of course, I have my trusty peers if I need an emergency brainstorm session!

One thing that I keep in mind when producing outfit names is the fact that they will be expanded upon when fellow writers create the lovely Shop Our Outfits copy. I ask myself things like, “What story does ‘Sweet Greetings’ tell?” and “What does ‘Mirthful Reminiscing’ mean, anyway?” in order to gauge how much they can do with an outfit name.

When it comes to applying copy to each page of the stylebook, I take a “tangible” approach. I need to spread out the print outs of the images, grab a stack of sticky notes, my word reserve, and my fave pens, and let the pictures speak. I apply sticky notes of proposed copy to the images and rearrange as needed. I scribble, cross out, and scribe a bunch of question marks. Once I think I have something good going on, I send everything to my team leaders who expertly sharpen and polish my work. Once it’s finished, the graphic designer does her magic!

With a lot of imagination and collaboration, a finished product can shine. One of my favorite things about my job is working with other creative people in different concentrations. For this project, graphic designer Mara brought forth a three ideas that I instantly loved — pine trees, deer, and hot pink. When working with my copy, I chose specific words, like “pining” and “endearing,” that would subtly evoke those aspects. Everyone’s hard work comes together so well in the end!

Are you a writer or an aspiring creative professional? I’d love to hear about your own artistic process!

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  1. Avatar
    Christine 12/01/2011 at 4:56 pm #

    It’s so neat that you wrote about your writing process here, because I’m in love with the wordplay on modeling! Those puns are always sending me into giggles. I’m not a writer by trade, but I do work at a publishing company, and help out a lot with our marketing and communications department. When it comes to my creative processes, post-its are pretty much my best friend.

  2. Avatar
    tara henderson 12/01/2011 at 5:49 pm #

    thank you so much for sharing this! as a new writer, i’m so curious how others go through their own creative process. i wrote my first book this summer, and before i put anything in the computer.. i wrote it out longhand! it took forever!
    it sounds weird, but also i make music playlists for myself to help me write certain scenes. and i definitely use a ton of post- its when i revise. writing is hard work but i love it! 🙂

    • Avatar
      Angela (ModCloth) 12/01/2011 at 6:14 pm #

      tara henderson, I totally make music playlists for myself too! I do this with almost every story or creative essay that I write. I definitely helps me to get lost in the mood of a piece with the help of music. It’s almost like a soundtrack, huh?

  3. Avatar
    tara 12/02/2011 at 1:03 pm #

    angela! i’m so glad to hear you do that too! it definitely helps me think so much better and if my book ever gets made into a movie…i want some creative input into the actual soundtrack! 😉

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