The 3 big differences between reflective writing and copywriting (and why you need both in business!)

May 7, 2021 | General | 0 comments

My writing life features both copywriting and reflective writing. I’ve broken the marketing rules and failed to ‘niche’ – silly me. But. apart from simply wanting to earn my crust doing a variety of things I enjoy, whatever the rules say, there’s a good reason for that. Copywriting and reflective writing support each other. I am firmly of the belief that to write effective, engaging copy and content a reflective writing practice is vital. In this blog I’ll explain why.

But first let’s start with what copywriting and reflective writing are.

Copywriting is writing to persuade people to take action. I deal in compassionate copy – so the focus is on getting super clear on what you have to offer, and how it will help others. So you make it easy for your reader to see what’s in it for them and take action to make their lives better.

Reflective writing, at least how we do it in Wordspill, is writing for play and personal exploration. It’s about giving yourself permission to spill words onto the page, then get curious about the spillage.

There are three important differences between them.

The audience

Copywriting starts with your reader. It starts with understanding where they’re at, what their needs are, what their level of understanding is. You job is then to build a bridge to where you and your offer are, to make it easy for them to take a leap.

Reflective writing has no audience. You will read your own writing, most probably, but you’re not writing with even your reading self in mind. You’re just getting stuff down. You don’t need to think about anything else – whether it makes sense, whether it’s spelled correctly, any of it.

The rules

You can be good or bad at copywriting. You can learn to get better. There are ways to write that are more effective than others. And if you’re wanting to please Google there are actions to take too. If you don’t do these things your words are likely to have less impact. You won’t sell as much.

As far as reflective writing goes, you can’t write it wrong. The only way to ‘get better’ at it, if you want to call it that, is to do it. To allow yourself to free flow and go where your pen takes you. And the ‘getting better’ might be surprising. It might look like your writing is even more confused, messy, all over the place than before. But you are letting yourself do that – you are liberating yourself from what’s right or wrong and just letting it spill.

The journey

Copywriting takes people on a journey. It helps your reader see that they are in place A, that actually, they’d be far better off in place B, and that you have just the thing to get them there. For example, they’re hungry, they’d be better off feeling nourished and your flapjacks are just the ticket. That sort of journey. And then you make it easy for them to travel – you show them where to buy/click/join.

Reflective writing is a magical mystery tour. You might have a prompt about keys and start writing about that time at the seaside when you were six, for seemingly no reason at all. Your pen might take you from keys straight into the office politics that are keeping you awake at night. Your head, heart and hands will take your pen to wherever you need to go right now. No rhyme or reason. But it’s always worth it. There’s learning to be had in the chaos.

So if these two forms of writing are so far apart, why do I recommend both?

Because of connection. If you want your writing to connect with others (whether for your business, in a work report, or even in a personal letter) then you need to connect with yourself first.

Reflective writing helps you become your own best ally. It holds a mirror up to you and what’s important to you. The notebook becomes a safe place to play. To bitch if you want to. To confess. To imagine. To be really silly. And in doing all these things you get to know yourself again. Which brings an inner confidence and clarity that all the copywriting lessons in the world won’t give you.

I suppose I’m cheating a bit. If you’re not trying to sell anything (and I use the term loosely – to mean put forward an idea or point of view as well as anything to do with business), then you probably don’t need copywriting. But I bet you find you speak and write more clearly and with more compassion once the reflective practice is underway.

This is the final shout out I’m going to do for Wordspill Writers until the end of summer 2021.

Wordspill Writers came into being because Wordspill participants last year didn’t want it to stop. They saw what a reflective writing habit did for them. And they knew that doing it within a community brought momentum, support and fun. And so, here it is. A private Facebook community, two reflective prompts a month and fortnightly zoom gatherings. There are a few places left. If you’d like to join us, you can do that here.

And if you need help with copywriting, we can chat about that here!

notebook and laptop for writing

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Gayle Johnson

Gayle Johnson


Gayle is a freelance content writer, writing mentor and facilitator. She is the creator of ‘Wordspill’ and loves helping people use words to connect with themselves and others. Find out how you can work with Gayle and her services


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