Barb Sawyers is a Toronto based copywriter and the Owner of Sticky Communication. She has a Masters in Journalism and prior to starting Sticky she worked in both the private and public sectors as a writer, editor and editorial manager. In Barb’s new book “Write like you talk – only better,” she shares how you can pull ideas out of your head and onto the page.
What are the first few things that you do each morning?
I’m not one of those early-morning people who bounce out of bed and sweat for a couple hours at the gym. I do work best in the morning, but I have to break into it gradually, with lots of coffee.
I do work best in the morning, but I have to break into it gradually, with lots of coffee.
I get up around 7:00 a.m. unload the dishwasher, eat oatmeal and fruit and read part of the newspaper. Seeing as I have a home office¸ I just walk over to my computer and get started as soon as my head is clear enough to handle email.
How many emails do you get a day?
I receive about 50 to 100 emails a day, which I mostly check in batches at certain times of the day.
Do you have any tips for dealing with email?
Control your email; don’t let it control you. That’s why I don’t respond every time I hear my inbox chime, unless I’m expecting something urgent. I prioritize, clients, then friends, then content I subscribe to. If I need it, I’ll go straight for the one from a friend that will probably make me laugh.
Control your email; don’t let it control you. That’s why I don’t respond every time I hear my inbox chime, unless I’m expecting something urgent.
What does your typical day look like?
I work in a home office, so it’s easy to be at my desk before 8.00 a.m. I often work in my pyjamas in the morning, then switch to gym clothes for my two-hour midday gym-dog walking-errand break. Then I’m back at my desk till 6.00 pm. If I’m not going out in the evening, I may spend some time getting caught up on loose ends.
What’s the most interesting thing about your job?
I love the freedom that blogging is giving me to develop my writing. And I’m fulfilled because I am passing on my expertise in communication at a time when so many people struggle to pull ideas out of their head and onto the page. It’s also very exciting to be part of the ebook revolution.
How do you approach productivity?
I can be very disorganized, but after many years of freelancing I have become more disciplined. I rely on lists and plans. If I’m faced with something I hate, for example organizing my tax information, I motivate myself with new clothes or some other reward.
When I’m working on something I love, I am very focused and energetic, so my productivity soars.
Do you have a good work-life balance?
Work-life balance has always been my priority. Having time for my kids was vital, especially after I became a single Mom. Lots of businesses pay lip service to work-life balance, but too few of my colleagues seem to have it. My kids are older, but now I need time for my elderly parents.
I know lots of independents who work around the clock, but long ago I learned to say “no” unless it’s a genuine emergency. I’m grumpy and stupid if I don’t get enough sleep and relaxation.
Can you share a personal or business challenge that was hard to deal with and how you overcame it and what you learned from it?
When my marriage exploded, I was too depressed to work for a few weeks. Fortunately, I had strong personal relationships with long-term clients. They understood. Soon I was back writing, focused on their issues instead of mine. Very therapeutic.
What inspires you?
New challenges. One of the reasons I went freelance was to have different clients with different challenges. These days, it’s more about stretching myself to see what I can do, being part of the exciting changes taking place in communication and creating a life that’s right for me.
These days, it’s more about stretching myself to see what I can do, being part of the exciting changes taking place in communication and creating a life that’s right for me.
What keeps you motivated and passionate about your work?
Change. New challenges. Recognition. Fun. And, yes, money.
What is your favourite quote of all time?
“To everything there is a season.” Pete Seeger via Ecclesiastes
When you’re not working what do you do to have fun and relax?
Talk with my kids. Read. Go out to dinner or movies, theatre or other event with my friends. Walk my dog. Work out. Volunteer in my community. Watch television; listen to music. Sounds a little boring, but it works for me.
What is one thing that your coworkers, clients or friends may not know about you?
I am hooked on Coronation Street.
In your industry, what is the biggest trend or opportunity you are seeing right now?
How ebooks and other big-content innovations are allowing everyone to share.
If you weren’t doing what you’re doing now, what would you be doing?
My parents pressured me to go into teaching. If I had caved, I’d probably be an elementary school teacher who writes ebooks on her summer break.