I recently presented an ad concept to a client in the form of a :90 video. I read the script at the outset of the meeting to four decision makers sitting around a table. When I finished, they burst into applause. No joke. Two even said they got chills. The concept was approved, of course, and we spent the next 45 minutes talking about execution. 

I wrote the script in 30 minutes on Sunday afternoon during the second half of the Panthers-Titans game. In a recliner with my laptop. Wearing sweats.

This is not to say that I am a magician, or some kind of writing genius. You see, the act of putting fingertips to keyboard is only part of the process in my line of work. And yes, it’s especially important at the end of the process. Just way after all the other stuff leading up to that point. 

And there’s a lot of other stuff. 

Only this other stuff doesn’t look or feel like what you would call work. 

In the business of communications development (aka copywriting), where we are tasked with crafting narrative that mobilizes an audience, our job looks like, well, nothing. 

I’ve written about this process in the past, and have enough experience now to say that it works–and if you don’t believe it, that’s on you. Again, I’m no genius. I just understand how to work the process to the end. The trick is having faith. 

When they were younger, my daughters told people, “Daddy types” for a living. And while that’s true, it’s not the half of it. Not even a quarter. Sometimes, after thinking about something for weeks, all it takes is 30 minutes on a recliner with football on TV. 

It doesn’t feel right. My wife gets up every day and goes to an office. Like most people. An office where coworkers bustle around and collaborate. Where teammates have cake in the break room on birthdays. Where someone greets you every morning and you share the bathroom with other people. When I go to the office, it’s got a few dogs in it and I’m only interrupted by evil delivery guys and spam calls. 

But my work is what it is. And to do it well means understanding and trusting the process that allows my inner voices to connect with someone else’s. Someone I don’t even know. 

When most folks leave work, they turn it off. My wife is one of those. Then there are those who won’t turn it off, even though they could (but who want to look and feel important). In my line of work, however, there is no turning it off until a project is complete. And for the first 90% of a project, the thing is in my mind all the time. No, I mean all the time. Like, constantly. Like, I couldn’t turn it off if I wanted to. 

This is part of the process whereby I allow someone else (who doesn’t really exist) into my mind and we walk around together chitchatting about things. Dumb things. Things that bring me closer to understanding what makes this other person tick. And it works. But it also means that – when I’m eating, I’m working. When I’m taking out the trash, I’m working. When I’m showering, I’m working. When I’m dropping the kid at swim practice, I’m working. I’m literally working all the time. 

My head is no picnic. 

Over the years my family has come to understand that I have conversations aloud with myself. Sometimes it sneaks out. It’s just part of the job.

And it doesn’t look like any other job out there.  

 I’m not crazy. 



Lend Me Your Ears

Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.