You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
– Mary Oliver
Ready to press send on your latest email? Hold off for five minutes! There’s a few things you can do to make your next mailer more impactful, improving your open and click through rates.
1. Concise content means you can use a bigger font, it takes less time to read and can be consumed on the move; while sitting on the bus or in line for the check out. Think mobile first, and ask yourself; if you’ve cut something out, did you really need to say it in the first place?
2. Make your content single column – this is a lot easier to resize in mobile and have it display well (ditch those massive margins).
3. Design for touch and fat fingers – make your buttons big, e.g 44px², and spaced out so users don’t misstep or miss-tap. I like this email from Lomography, with its unmissable calls to action:
4. Subject lines viewed on iPhones cut off at 35 characters! When I found out this one I was gobsmacked. At 35 characters, well that’s only a quarter of a tweet. The rest of your words just… vanish. You don’t want your readers missing anything crucial, so make sure the key information you want to get across is up front (e.g. lead with ‘Win’). Even better, rewrite your message so it fits in that space.
5. Check your alt text and pre-headers are in place – remember not all images will display. Here’s one example from Frankie magazine that shows the value of double-checking:
Whether you’re a one man brand or talking to hundreds of thousands of people, hopefully these little tips and tricks will help you out, and power you to the end goal.
I don’t like poetry*. But I like this piece by Derrick Brown.
*I also don’t like Labradors. But every time I meet one, I must make an exception for each particular golden fuzzy face.
A nice idea for Expedia, a poster campaign playing on the language of luggage labels. I’m tickled to see Whangarei, a small town in New Zealand that my Aunt used to live in, make the cut.
Hats off to Ogilvy for this one. And in case you’re wondering, NCE is Nice, France and IDA is Idaho Falls, USA.
“Write in recollection and amazement for yourself” – Jack Kerouac
I have never religiously written morning pages, but I always enjoyed coming home after a night out (technically morning), curling up in bed with a big glass of water and ‘spewing’ my thoughts on to the pages of my notebook. Charming, I know. In the morning I’d find paragraphs of unusable material, all hideously misspelled, but it let me sleep easy.
Things are changing though. Nowadays I find myself rising early on the regular, drinking verbena tea – quelle horreur – and jotting down a few lines. I am very lucky to do what I love for a living, but in ten years all I’ll have is a hard drive, if they still even exist, of PDFs, quaint status updates from 2012 and fuzzy images. It’ll be nice to have something solid, just for me, even if it is hardly fit for public consumption.
“In this photo released by the Florida Keys News Bureau, David Douglas, center, celebrates at Sloppy Joe’s Bar in Key West, Fla., after winning the 2009 “Papa” Hemingway Look-Alike contest late Saturday, July 25, 2009. Douglas, a 55-year-old Cypress, Texas, mechanical contractor, won the competition after eight tries. Douglas is surrounded by previous Hemingway look-alike winners.”
This made me smile and smile. I can think of a few friends who might be in contention in 20 years!
The favourite snacks of great writers, via the NY Times. My own writing diet is usually coffee until I shake and need a lie down. I wonder what gets Bret Easton Ellis through the day?
“Everything she said was like a secret voice speaking straight out of my own bones.”
A little tidbit I just learned: Sylvia Plath first published the The Bell Jar under the nom de plume Victoria Lucas.
I’ve just finished reading it for the first time in, oh, ten years or so. The voice of Esther Greenwood is honest and raw, capturing what it’s like to feel control slipping away. I can’t believe it was published in 1963, because so much of it feels relevant to my experiences as a young(ish) woman today.
My favourite line from the book:
Then I folded the linen napkin and laid it between my lips and brought my lips down on it precisely. When I put the napkin back on the table a fuzzy pink lip-shape bloomed right in the middle of it like a tiny heart.
(Good advice, nice jumper.)
You need to see London at night, particularly the theaters. But not just the night life. London itself looks best in the dark. It’s a pretty safe city, and you can walk in most places after sunset. It has a sedate and ghostly beauty. In the crepuscular kindness, you can see not just how she is, but how she once was, the layers of lives that have been lived here. Somebody with nothing better to do worked out that for every one of us living today, there are 15 ghosts. In most places you don’t notice them, but in London you do. The dead and the fictional ghosts of Sherlock Holmes and Falstaff, Oliver Twist, Wendy and the Lost Boys, all the kindly, garrulous ghosts that accompany you in the night. The river runs like dark silk through the heart of the city, and the bridges dance with light. There are corners of silence in the revelry of the West End and Soho, and in the inky shadows foxes and owls patrol Hyde Park, which is still illuminated by gaslight.
– from My London, and Welcome to It by A.A. Gill. Beautiful writing.