Verbal Identity’s Monday morning, 10-minute copywriting exercise: Cover it, cover it

Usually when I’m copywriting, it’s a slog trying to find any rhythm or flow.

Some mornings, my personal verbal identity is best described as “English as a second language”.

There have been occasional light bulbs. One incurred during an obtuse sexual act (it inspired the unusual narrative structure of the short film I wrote).

But I’m a married man now. And the Health and Safety frown on obtuse sexual practises taking place in your office.

So what can you do?

Twice in my career I’ve noticed a little moment of inspiration follow on from some bloody hard slog.

First time, we were in a recording studio for a series of radio commercials. They were working hard. Too hard. We were on take 20.

So the producer, the brilliant Simon Blaxland, told the FVO artist to cover the script and do it from memory.

She did, and she hit every important point and did it with a rhythm and flow that was much more natural.

More recently, I’d asked an art director to write a guest piece for the blog. What he sent back was full of bright ideas. Too full. Too bright. It was hard going.

Remembering Simon’s trick, I suggested the art director cover what he’d written, and type the piece as fast as he possibly could from memory.

What he sent back was ten times better. The content was there, but freed of the burden of getting all the content in, he could write it in his own rhythm.

Rappers talk about ‘Flow’. And if you want to follow the story of how Rakim changed the whole history of Rap, with an entirely different, more natural flow, check out Paul Edwards’ book “How to Rap”.

But if you’re stuck this Monday morning, try this Verbal Identity 10-minute exercise.

Once you’ve got the copy down, even in a turgid form, put it in the bottom drawer.

Get ready, then as quickly as possible, without thinking about it or self-editing or worrying about what you’re leaving out, write it again as quickly as possible.

How did it go?

If you’re stuck or need a push, I keep Monday mornings free. Call or email. I’ll do what I can.

Good luck,



Here’s Rakim’s “It’s been a long time”

Follow procedures, the crowd couldn’t wait to see this

Nobody been this long awaited since Jesus

Who wouldn’t believe this – I heard the word on the street is

I’m still one of the deepest on the mic since Adidas

They said I changed the times from the rhymes that I thought of

So I made some more to put the New World in Order

with Mathematics, put your status above the average

And help you rappers, make paragraphs with graphics

Cause new days is dawnin, new ways of peformin

Brainstormin, I write and watch the night turn to mornin

On and on and, I got the whole world respondin

Rock, I keep it hot and blow the spot without warnin

The Emperor, well known for, inventin a sentence

full of adventure, turnin up the temperature

Rush with adrenaline, how long has it been again

to be in the state of mind that Rakim is in?