A great interview: Dan Germain, Innocent

I love reading interviews with people who work with words, from copywriters to translators. It’s always interesting to find out how they got to where they are today, the path they took. Roger Horberry’s interview with Dan Germain of Innocent fame is no exception.

I think lots of writers stumble into their profession via a muddle of other roles: some are related, most are not. But it’s still refreshing to read about the success stories that many of us still spend a large proportion of (billable) hours daydreaming about…

Dan “went to university with the three chaps who founded Innocent” and started off “driving vans and delivering smoothies” before moving on to writing the ‘blurb’ on the bottles. And ten years later, he’s head of creative services. He comes out with several words of wisdom; here are my favourites.

“Brilliant copywriting doesn’t demand any explanation. It’s short and sweet and hits the spot first time.”

On golden rules for writing: “…you have your first idea – great, but don’t use it. 90% of people will have thought of that so it’ll be boring. Have another idea – great, don’t use that either. 8% of people will have thought of that. Go for the third idea – that’s what hardly anyone will have got to…”

On writing guidelines at Innocent: “…it’s mainly about being polite. Say hello, write to the person you’re speaking to, get their attention quickly and leave them with something to think about at the end.”

On escaping writer’s block: “One thing I do is start from a random word or sentence […] like ‘the thing about squirrels is…’. It’s good to have a few opening lines like that to play with and wake you up.”

“Write lots of stuff. Keep writing. Write snappy lines and short stories. Stick your words on a blog. Try writing a bit of everything. But most importantly, just write.”

Read the interview on the wonderful www.26.org.uk, a group for writers, editors and language consultants (I’m a member!).

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