Escape from Excel

Jan 23, 2017

Lily Hudson

Thread Senior Writer

Once upon a time I wrote all my copy in the convoluted cornucopia of colored cells known as Excel. My co-workers and I would email our docs back and forth and back and forth and back again. My desktop was always scattered with finished and half-finished Excel docs. Eventually I would file them away and promptly forget about them until the end of time (or until my hard drive sagged under the weight of all those gigs).

You know how Excel has that reputation of being a thing that EVERYBODY lies about knowing on resumes? I truly still only understand 0.005% of how to manipulate Excel. It’s too much for my brain to master – and the squinting really gets to you after a while, too. I know plenty of writers who work in Word, for that reason. Word gives you a big wide blank space with zero distractions. It’s open and calming, with room to think and noodle. Don’t fence me in.

Although Word feels like that peaceful, uncluttered Zen room with the all-white walls and white curtains and the white noise machine whooshing in the corner, it’s a solitary, unconnected place. Eventually, any work I do there has to be moved somewhere I can share it.

Working in Talkoot lets me skip the ritual of writing in Word and then copying-and-pasting into a spreadsheet later. Talkoot gives me that simple, cozy workspace feeling, while also linking me up with my teammates when it’s time to collaborate. If you ask me, one of the greatest things about Talkoot is that it was designed by people who know what it’s like to actually get in there and create the copy. It doesn’t overwhelm writers with tons of info that doesn’t pertain to their work in that moment. So, for example, when I’m working, I can hide or rearrange almost all information as I see fit.

There are lots of different ways I can use Talkoot, depending on my project. Model View is Talkoot’s version of that open, easy, uncomplicated workspace writers want. Rather than the crowded view of a spreadsheet, it makes the most of negative space, with a big product image alongside a roomy space to write. All the other bells and whistles can be hidden away with a click or two.

And it’s not just about creating a conducive space to write, it’s about giving the writer tools to help them work better and more efficiently.

Copywriters have a lot of resource asks that need to be reviewed before he or she can even start working: seeing all images, detail views and sketches; seeing all the features, benefits and USP of a product; viewing notes and reminders from project managers; viewing copy from previous seasons to make sure it stays consistent. Talkoot compiles all those things and serves them up to me exactly as I need them. When Talkoot takes on the burden of keeping close tabs on a thousand little bits of brand-specific info and direction (Word count! American vs. British spelling! Brand-specific terminology!), I’m able to focus on the more writerly tasks of hammering together solid sentences and then sanding and polishing them until they’re just right.

I’ve come to depend on features like Versions (to find and revert to an earlier draft of copy) and Lookup (to easily search for previous seasons’ copy on a particular product, technology or collaboration) to save time and avoid duplicating my own work.

And working collaboratively in Talkoot makes it easier to get a fresh set of eyes from a teammate. In the next post I’ll explain how Talkoot helps me overcome isolation and work better with my team. Yes, that’s right, good copy is not just about raw talent – it’s about successful collaboration and workflow.

by Lily Hudson – Writer for Thread Creative

See part 2 of this series: Writers need a team

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