When you have a last name like “Twardzik,” you have to do some early grappling with the pain and beauty of letters. But once you’ve triumphed? Spelling all other words is child’s play.
And thus Hired Pen Eric Twardzik began his writing career at the tender age of four-and-a-half.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
A writer. Also, a “cooker.” (That would be “one who cooks.” I think I was five when I coined that term. Sadly, it never really caught on.)
What’s your favorite type of writing project?
Being able to take a deep dive into the history and specifics of beautiful, well-made clothing and footwear.
What do you wish clients knew about working with writers?
There’s no such thing as having too much information. Not that all the info makes it into the product description or onto the web page. Or at least it shouldn’t! But if you think you’re burdening me with one more photo, you’re not. The more I know, the better I write.
Why do you think most business writing is just so bad?
Everyone wants to write conversationally — and that’s a good thing. But writing that sounds natural takes a lot of work. It’s not just transcribing what you say. You have to sit back and think, “Is this anything an actual human being would say to another human being?”
What’s your best advice for writing great copy?
Really think about who’s going to be reading it. Write for them.
What’s the hardest part of writing?
The blank screen. Yeah, I know, what an original thought, right? But it’s true. Luckily, the antidote is to just start writing.
What brand voices do you really admire and why?
I’m obsessed with English menswear company Drake’s. If their copy were a person, it would be a distinguished old man wearing a beautiful suit, sitting in a library and sipping scotch.
Can you name any famous copywriters?
Does Stan from “Mad Men” count?
What’s on your desk?
A big leather notebook I use to keep my schedule, a smaller paper notebook I bring to meetings, a glass full of water and an empty coffee mug.
What advice would you give someone who wanted to become a copywriter?
Don’t turn down any job; everything is a learning experience.
What would surprise someone to learn about you?
My daily running playlist is full of power metal songs about WWII.
What are you reading now?
The Sun Also Rises, Men and Style by David Coggins and a biography of Stonewall Jackson.
What’s your favorite word?
“Pheasant.” It makes me think of crunching leaves and cracking fires and waxed hunting jackets. It also makes me think of eating pheasants, which are delicious.
Is there a favorite English teacher lurking in your past?
Matt Kennenitz, you were a shining beacon of knowledge in a bleak, dark world. Best of luck to you out there in Chicago.
What’s the current bane of your existence? You’re not allowed to say this questionnaire.
People playing videos on their phone in public. Or talking loudly into their phones in a coffee shop. We can all hear you! Go outside.
Are you secretly working on a novel or screenplay?
Openly working on a number of short stories, none of which are ending correctly.