five in five* with Ernest Turner, senior copywriter

You might catch senior copywriter Ernest Turner reaching for a book of poetry when he’s seeking a squeeze of creative juice to write about stainless steel fasteners.

We met with the writer and cycling enthusiast at the brewery next door to our office for our latest installment of the Five in Five*, where we asked him five questions in five minutes in an effort to get to know him outside the confines of his cubicle. (“I like how we’re doing the Five in Five at Inside the Five,” he said as we held forth over quesadillas and fried chicken.)

we have this idea of you as an intensely outdoorsy person—how accurate is that?

That was my identity for a long time. I don’t think I embody it as much as I used to. But I am very, very active. My management of my own stress is entirely physical—rock climbing, riding my bike, hiking. My new goal is to eliminate my car from my commute to work and use my bike instead.

when did you gain such an affinity for bicycle rides?

Living in Alaska. I put thick studded tires on my bike and started commuting about 30 minutes to work every day, even in the winter. Some days I’d start in the morning with frozen roads that the wheels would glide over perfectly, but by evening I’d have to walk my bike back for miles because a few inches of soft snow had fallen.

what’s your secret sauce, your greatest tool as a copywriter?

I dive deep into stuff. I get really engrossed in learning the details of how things work. I have the reputation for being an expert on my clients’ products because I research every product line so thoroughly and learn as much as I can.

where do you get writing inspiration?

I like to read things with a depth of emotion. Ocean Vuong and Saeed Jones are two of my favorites. They have different life experiences and their writing is just phenomenal. They make me so jealous. I read a lot of different books when I’m stuck on things. Poetry specifically, because it gives me a different perspective on things and helps me write in a unique way with different combinations of words and ideas. I keep Emily Dickinson at my desk, Roland Barthes, Walt Whitman.

so we can find you in your cubicle battling writer’s block with Emily Dickinson?


*Five in Five is where we catch up with an Interrupter to ask five questions in five minutes. It may have taken us (way) longer than five minutes to have this conversation. But it shouldn’t take you longer than five minutes to read it, so we think it still counts.