If you’re planning to write your own copy it’s best to get started early.

In my case, I was reading under the blankets with a torch at the age of 11. The classic bookworm. First class honours in English Literature and an Arts degree followed.

Then seven years as a journalist learning under fire on national papers with four editions daily. Dictating copy in laundromats (they tended to have the best phones); or in the newsroom writing ‘from the top’ one paragraph to a slip torn from your typewriter immediately and rushed to the news desk. Canberra and Melbourne. City and country.

Cut to an office off Fleet Street, London. Early morning. I sit writing directly onto a teleprinter which is spitting out a hundred feet of tape. It has to be painstakingly coiled without tearing before it can be dispatched via satellite back to Australia. You learn to chose your words carefully. There is no going back on a teleprinter.

(Curious youth may wish to Google typewriter and teleprinter.)

I started in advertising under the redoubtable Phillip Adams in Melbourne diving in at the deep end as MDA (Monahan Dayman Adams) was reeling in the blue chips accounts.  But London, at that time, was where the best advertising was happening.

And so, Dick Wittington like I came with my modest portfolio of work to find those streets paved with gold. Dozens of television commercials, hundreds of ads and an embarrassment of long lunches followed over the next 14 years. Europe, the Americas and Asia.

I learnt the craft of making radio and television. Directing famous names and spending budgets that could run to several hundred thousand of pounds.

But my first love was always print. Typography was king. Copy was crafted with surgical precision and then altered by hand and scalpel to fit the layout. Sentences were rewritten so that descenders, ascenders and line breaks did not offend the eye.

I cycled to work each morning, often stopping to scribble something on the back of my hand. I wasn’t the best copywriter in London but one of the most eager to learn and improve.

There is a challenge in bringing ideas to life. I must be a slow learner because it was several years before I realised all that could go wrong between script, filming and post production.

And all the ways people in suits could peck and tear at an idea until it was a confused and schizophrenic thing and your only thought was to kill it before it went out into the world with your name on it. Your portfolio was your passport to the next job.

I returned to Australia and became a creative director with a single minded desire – to create the best conditions for the  writers and art directors I worked with to pursue ideas, excel and win awards on what were regarded as conservative accounts.  The other half of the coin was the hours spend with clients explaining and protecting ideas.

Justifying and communicating the difference between ads that merely fulfilled the brief and ads that grew out of truly original insights and ideas: to move, entertain and enlighten. It’s what I call copywriting – and brand building.

Eventually you don’t want to keep leaving the office after seven, so you switch to freelance writing and your career goes full circle. With two important differences.

Firstly you have the confidence to write in any medium on any topic. Each time the phone rings you are invited into a different world. And secondly,  you’re doing it from your kitchen table.

But the craft skills of writing and threading communication pieces together never changes. There is only one standard. Digital makes not a whit of difference.

So if you’re planning to write your own copy it’s best get started early – and measure yourself against the best.

All it takes is a little talent and a lifetime of practice.