Salman Rushdie is one of the most prominent and well-known writers of our time; nobody would doubt that. This makes the early period of his life and the influences that formed him as an author all the more fascinating.
Among other things, Salman Rushdie is the author of Midnight’s Children, the novel that not only received the Booker’s prize in 1982, but was also named the best Booker winning novel for the entire existence of the award. He was knighted for his literary achievements. His name is known even to those who have never opened any of his books.
However, there is a fact from his biography that will probably come as a piece of news for a lot of people: before becoming a writer he worked under David Ogilvy – the very same David Ogilvy who is considered by many to be one of the greatest copywriters ever, and the person who, to a great extent, defined the way modern advertising industry looks and develops.
Some would probably say that copywriting and literary work have nothing in common. Salman Rushdie’s success says otherwise – if we look at his writing career we will see that he followed Ogilvy’s testaments to the letter.
For example, Ogilvy suggests that one should spend as much time on headlines as on the rest of the job. It is said that after completing Midnight’s Children Rushdie spent many hours trying to choose the title. After narrowing the list of candidates down to Children of Midnight and Midnight’s Children he typed them over and over again, trying to see which one looks better on paper.
Another lesson he learned from his work with Ogilvy is brevity which, in case of advertising, is not only the soul of wit, but a vital necessity. You have to express as much as possible in as few words as possible. As a result, Rushdie always writes in short, simple sentences and says that this way you even look smarter, because this way people better understand what you are saying.
Rushdie is famous for having said that in writing success isn’t based on talent. It is based on whether you practice or not. And from his years of work in advertising he learned to treat writing as a job: he never misses deadlines, doesn’t attribute the absence of results to the absence of inspiration; he has a task – he has a client – he does the job.