I just finished up a draft of a 31-page sales letter for a client... which inspired me to write this tiny little blog post, which may or may not be useful to you...
One of the basic appeals of a career as a freelance copywriter is that all you really need is a keyboard and a text editor.
My brother works as a currency trader in a big bank in our wonderful capital city. (Here on the west coast we like to say that the only problem with Stockholm is all the stockholmers...)
Each of his systems and tools costs millions each year.
As a copywriter... not so much.
So here's the deal:
Many people are advocating no-distraction solutions for writing. This is cool, and I buy it 100%. I use one for almost everything I write... except sales letters.
This may very well be a personal thing, but I NEED to be able to format what I'm writing as I'm writing it.
I need to see something that's a rough approximation of the end result. I'm very visually-driven when it comes to writing copy. It has to look right.
For a period of time, I would use the minimalist writing tools for everything... until I noticed that most of my BEST sales letters were actually written in OpenOffice Writer.
When I'm first writing a letter, I will only really stop to center the subheads and put in the occasional bolding or italicization.
One of the most fundamental principles of good writing is that good writing is fast writing. You don't stop. Just write until you're done, and edit later.
So what do I use when I write?
Mainly, two tools:
http://www.ommwriter.com -- this thing is easily the coolest "minimalist" writing tool I've seen. It's free, with a "choose your own price tag" option for a premium version. You can use it as a plain white background, and no distractions... or you can opt for a cool backdrop, relaxing background music and sound effects while typing (I like to use the "thud"... gives a nice rhythm to your writing, which can actually help you write better copy) .
http://www.openoffice.org -- it's just as powerful as the Microsoft Office suite, except it's free. And given the choice, I actually prefer OpenOffice.
Now go sell something!