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Learn by handwriting

BY LesOverhead / Art, communication, Creative, handwriting, history, writing / 0 COMMENTS

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I once read that Hunter S. Thompson, as a young and ambitious writer, tried to improve his writing by copying word for word the opening chapter of The Great Gatsby.

At that age, long before he became a literary legend, Thompson considered Fitzgerald’s book to be the great American novel, or close to it. So he typed it out to better understand the cadence, the rhythm, the style, the mood.

When we are all young, we copy our heroes, our mentors, our parents – until we gain a footing ourselves and go off on our own. We learn to flap our wings, or gums, and take off.

Recently, I came across another idea on copying that goes further. The idea is this: When you copy something, don’t just type it, write it by hand. The thinking is that copying something down in handwriting makes you go slower and actually think about what you are writing.

It also shows you why short sentences are better and why commas are important, and where they should go. It’s like learning in slow motion, which is a better…way…to…learn.

This doesn’t just apply to writing a book or story. If you are a cook, for instance, writing down a recipe by hand makes you think about each ingredient and step. Odds are you are less likely to forget to put garlic in the Tex-Mex Lasagna (as I have done).

Everyone loves receiving a handwritten letter. Unless your handwriting is indecipherable, like my mother’s was, which was exasperating (a word she said often to me in person, but if she ever wrote it I couldn’t read it).

If you are writing an important email, try it first long hand, with cross outs and new starts. Then type it and send it. It will help you clarify your thoughts and improve your message.

And when you type it by reading your handwriting, you’re less likely to have typos. I remember my horror when I wrote an ad for a client that said, “Stay smart. Think positve.” I had left out the second “i” in positive. My client (Linda F.) spotted it and brought it to my attention. It got changed fast, before it ran thank god – a full page ad in the Portland Business Journal.

If that law firm ad had run with the typo, I would have had to leave town and I'd still be hiding out today - perhaps with Hunter S. Thompson, in the clouds and bars above. Looking for a pen.

Call me Les.

Strange Days - A Pandemic Journey

BY LesOverhead / Art, Creative, humor, writing / 0 COMMENTS

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As if times weren’t strange enough, my artist friend, Karen Wippich, and I have created an art book together. “Strange Days: A Pandemic Journey” attempts to capture through images and words a sense of the surreal experience we’re all living through. It features 48 of Karen’s reality-bending paintings matched with my brief ponderings on our changing existence. Different takes on bewildering times.

This is our 2nd collaboration - our first being “Driving Strangers: Diary of an Uber Driver” produced a few years ago. The 98-page book is available on Amazon.

Vote for Earth

BY LesOverhead / Uncategorized / 0 COMMENTS

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And this is what it’s come to in smoky Portland, where Ben wears a mask indoors and implores us to as well, and wonders if we’ve gone to hell and I tell him no not yet but the world is heading that way, and he asks how anyone these days - with all the infernos and storms and melting glaciers and towns burned to the ground - can still not believe in climate change and I can only say they are sadly deranged.

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A MOBILE ONE-MAN CREATIVE TEAM

20 Odd Years In Business

The true, sober story of Les Overhead.

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I was leaving to buy a keg for a party in the mountains outside Missoula when the phone rang. I picked it up in a hurry. A woman asked if I had recently applied for a job with a radio station in Whitefish.

“Uh, yeah, did I get the job?” I replied, anxious to move the conversation along.

“Not yet. Are you available for an interview?” I wondered if she was in town and wanted to meet right then.

“Not for the next 24 hours,” I said. "To be honest, I'm on my way to buy beer for a party in the mountains."

“I meant next week," she said. She no doubt heard me hit myself in the head with the phone. Well, I blew that I thought.

But I was wrong. I somehow landed the job and showed up for work two weeks later, shaven and sober. After a couple years punching out radio copy on a Smith Corona and doing odd jobs like radio play-by-play for donkey basketball games I headed west.

Eventually, I ended up in Portland where I caught on with a series of ad agencies. I got into everything: print ads, brochures, radio and TV spots, creative disputes… Many words were exchanged. Nobody got hurt.

One day in the shower a hair circled the drain and it dawned on me. I should use my head and get off this manic ad agency merry-go-round. Go to work for myself and provide creative help to anyone with a good company or cause.

That day Les Overhead was born. Freelance Creative Director/Copywriter. A man of his word.

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Les Overhead and Tom Vandel would both enjoy talking with you.

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The best way to reach Les Overhead and Tom Vandel is by email (tom@...), by phone (503-505-4723), or by sending carrier pigeon or mail to 1750 NE 57th Portland, OR 97213. Thank you.