Living the Writer's Life: David Pederson
SoCal Copywriter in Cybersecurity Writes from a Personal Paradise
David Pederson is proud to live in the land of cowboys, bandits, and bankers … also known as SoCal. He found the world of copywriting through a desperate attempt to keep his job as a database administrator trying to persuade high-level executives to sign off on multimillion-dollar projects. Today, he uses those powers of persuasion to write in the health care and cybersecurity sectors. When asked about his dream location to live and work, David simply replied, “I’m here, writing to you from it.”
How did you get into copywriting?
Copywriting happened out of my fear of failure. In 2000 I came to the USA under NAFTA as a database administrator in the financial sector. I didn’t expect to fall in love with Southern California, but I did. I didn’t want to leave, so I worked my butt off to make sure my employer would want to renew my temporary visa each year.
I needed to present plans to stakeholders and get them to sign off on projects with price tags in the eight-figure range. Driving on the 405 at 1 a.m. one night, I wondered about the billboards whizzing past me. How did they hook clients? That was when I discovered Scientific Advertising, then Schwartz, and finally, Makepeace. Researching him led me right to AWAI.
AWAI turned me around to see how to weave emotion, logic, and proof together and then ask to get the signatures I needed. It was not long before I loved going into a room and seeing stakeholders nodding instead of shaking their heads. It would be five years and a green card before I became a full-time copywriter. I found the freedom to have fun.
And I owe that freedom to AWAI.
What kinds of clients and projects do you enjoy the most?
My clients are modern cowboys, bandits, and bankers, and the projects I take on buck the norms. I love projects that challenge health care the most.
These days I enjoy writing on cybersecurity because it gives me an adrenaline boost when a hospital wins against a cyber-bandit. I also write in managed IT services for private equity and hedge funds only because they ground me in the fact we are more than cowboys living in a modern Western.
Do you have any productivity hacks to help you stay motivated and productive?
Yes. And it’s short. Find story.
I’m motivated by finding a real story — the conflict, the gap, and, most importantly, the subtext. Finding that moment that builds anticipation and pulls out the reader’s gasp is what I believe we are really about. Story is complex and takes all our attention to do well.
Story is my only motivating productivity hack for copywriters. I desire it, seek it, and love it when I find it. The rest is skill and technique. If every copywriter sought only to use fundamental story principles to write the truth, the change we desire would become the reality we see.
What’s your favorite part of your writer’s life?
I’m a people watcher, and when I meet them, I still fawn over them — I love making the real hero the plumber when working with lawyers. I enjoy myself when I meet someone who is high and needs to talk nonstop about his obsession du jour. I make friends with those who love meeting people who are not like me.
Not until I was a writer was that world open to me. I seek out the people next door or down the street. I love talking to the guy who needs a shower and a better shopping cart, because he has a story I would not know otherwise.
I am free to see everything that is right here in LA. It’s all about learning to open our eyes, but when we do, man — what a feeling! That is the gift of the writer’s life.
What fun hobbies or passions do you pursue?
I’m a … and yes, I know, sad, but true … a Disneyland nut. We go there on weekends, sometimes in the evenings, and occasionally during a rough day to shake off stress. If expected attendance numbers are too high for the weekend, we go hiking.
We live in the part of LA where the movie ranches began and where films and TV shows are still shot.
David's Living The Writer's Life story was originally published in Barefoot Writer. To learn more about how you can start living your dream writer's life too, click here.
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