Category Archives: creative writing

How do you know if you’ve made a good ad?

Ever try to saw a straight line? I don’t mean hacksawing a curtain rod to fit your window.  I mean straight: true, plumb and parallel on both sides of the cut.

The practice cuts you see above, in all their imperfect glory, were not made by a newbie. They were made by a professional woodworker working with a sharp saw. His name is Joel, and he writes a nice blog that lives in an addictively readable website for a very cool maker of hand woodworking tools in Brooklyn called Gramercy Tools. He was documenting the process of relearning this basic skill with his workspace set up in a new way.

I count 15 cuts. Some of them are skewed. Some wander off the path. Some are OK. The last one is true from any angle and was made without following a guide. Do that with your next ad assignment and not only will you wind up with a good ad, you’ll know it.

A parting koan from Joel the woodworking sensei:

 …the more I practice the less scared I am of screwing up, and then I don’t screw up. 

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Because "very small" didn’t sound right.

John Lennon’s handwritten lyrics. These are the “finished” words. The other side of the page has even more scratch-outs.

Sold at Sotheby’s on Friday for $1.2 million.