You could write faster.
Scratch that: You SHOULD write faster. Especially your first few drafts.
Because the quicker you get a solid first draft into your greedy clutches, the more time you’ll have to get to draft #21.
You know; the draft that actually makes your copy good.
Plus, as a general rule, the faster you write, the more money you make. Write twice as fast; make double the money.
Simple — right?
So are you ready to get greasy-fast?
Secrets of Lickedy-Splittedness
I’ve been called many things during nearly four decades in this biz. “Prolific” and “The fastest writer alive” are probably the only two I can mention in polite mixed company.
So if you’ve ever felt like the Earth cooled in less time than it takes you to crank out a respectable first draft, listen up: I’m going to give you some things I do to tear through the process in less time than it takes a Democrat to jack up your taxes.
Here are six little tricks that help me a lot …
The first is compartmentalization. See, writing an out-of-the-park grand slam; your career-making, signature promotion is not a single act. It’s a process consisting of many steps, hundreds of actions and thousands of tiny decisions:
- Thinking about who your prospect is and why he needs your product …
- Creating your attention-getting and engagement strategy — your theme, headline and opening strategy …
- Researching your product, your competitors’ products and their promotions …
- Organizing your attack; determining the order in which you’ll lead the prospect through your reasons why he should buy …
- Pouring the appropriate research, notes and ideas into each section of your outline …
- Writing your first rough draft…
- Polishing it into a complete first draft…
- Buffing and meticulously detailing each succeeding draft until you realize that you couldn’t improve it if someone held a gun to your head — and that every new change you consider not only doesn’t help; it actually weakens the copy.
- Sticking a fork in it because it’s done.
Now, if you’re not willing to do that kind of exhaustive work to create a winning promotion, take my advice: Quit now. Lazy people get their heads handed to them in this business. I hear there are plenty of correspondence courses for wanna-be plumbers online.
If, on the other hand, you delight in the idea of creating something that brings value to consumers’ lives, helps build companies, creates jobs, and helps families put their kids through college …
And if the idea of getting paid quite handsomely for this tremendous contribution to humanity …
Then, my friend … you’ve got a problem.
Because if you have a lick of common sense, you’re going to feel overwhelmed as you contemplate the journey ahead and all the steps you’ll have to complete in order to perfect the project at hand.
That’s OK — it just means you’re in touch with reality. But you’re going to have to get past “overwhelmed” and to work; the quicker, the better. And the only way I know to do that is to mentally chop the job into little, tiny, manageable pieces.
I do NOT have to write a promotion today. All I have to do is the research. Or part of the research. Or part of one of the other steps that will ultimately lead me to direct response Nirvana.
Thinking about the work this way does more than just relieve your anxiety. It blows all that procrastination you’re usually guilty of at the beginning of each project right out of the water. You’ll get to work faster.
The second trick is something my pal Rich Schefren calls “Getting Into a Flow State.” Ever have a day when you sit down to work and next thing you know it’s time for dinner … you have to force yourself to stop … and when you reflect on the day, you’re blown away by the quantity — and more importantly, the quality — of what you accomplished in a single day?
That, my friend, is the flow state Rich is talking about. And getting into this kind of flow state is my goal every time I sit down at my desk.
Because the fact is, flow states equal money. Because the more flow states you experience during each project, the faster the project goes and the better your work output will be.
The thing is, though, flow states don’t “just happen.” They’re kind of like hummingbirds: They’ll show up naturally if you’ll just create an environment that attracts them.
For me, that means a light dinner and a good night’s sleep. An enclosed work space. No interruptions (no phone; “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door). No distractions (no people to watch, no iPod, no TV in the background). And every tool I need to do today’s job readily at hand.
That’s just me. You’ll have to figure out what works for you.
The third trick is something I do on every job — and that “Legendary Gary” Bencivenga told me he does, too: Constantly visualize success. I know; how Norman Vincent Peale of me. Right? What could possibly be more hackneyed than to dust off the decades-old concept of “positive thinking?”
Thing is, like all laws that survive the test of time, positive thinking works.
Gary is a kind of “get to the point” guy, so he visualizes the casual stroll to the mailbox that results in the discovery of a six-figure royalty check inside.
I’m less driven by money than by ego — and scootie-pootie — so my fantasy is the phone call I’ll get from an amazed client when he sees my copy for the first time … the call telling me he had to put on three shifts to handle the orders … and, of course, all the great cuddling I’ll get when The Redhead sees the royalty deposit on the bank statement.
Whatever your motivation, try keeping it in mind as you write.
The fourth trick is to “Know thyself.” Once you’ve been doing this for a while, you’ll come to recognize that this isn’t just an intellectual exercise but an emotional one.
You may feel overwhelmed at the beginning. Discouraged when a solution doesn’t come fast enough. Your inferiority complex will kick into overdrive when you see how others have done it.
You’ll feel excited when you hit upon a new idea. Increasingly proud as you read and re-read each draft and polish it to a high sheen. And, frankly, thrilled beyond words when you’re finally done and the damn thing is off your desk.
Heck. I could almost draw an emotional map that predicts how I’ll feel tomorrow, based entirely on where I am in a project and what I’ll be working on.
The thing is, feelings are more intense than thoughts. So they can have a way of blanking your mind and freezing you like a biker who just spotted a grizzly in his headlights.
It helped me when I learned that 99.9% of all negative emotions are not caused by objective truth. And therefore, the vast majority of all bad feelings are baloney.
Because anxiety, stress, intimidation, depression and all the rest are caused as we filter facts about events or our current situation through beliefs we have about ourselves (“I’m a phony”) … others (“People don’t like me”) … and the world around us (“I’ll never be as successful as Carline”).
Of course, those beliefs are dumb. And so are the negative emotions they produce.
So when I experience a negative emotion while I’m working, I pause for a moment … ask myself, “What thought zipped through my mind — probably unrecognized — just before I got bummed out?”
Then, after realizing how ridiculously wrong that thought was, I can almost instantly dismiss the negative emotion and dive back into the work.
Try it; it works.
Fifth Trick: Screw the rules! See, you’ve learned too many of them. And frankly, they’re getting in the way. So forget ‘em. Consciously, at least.
Instead, focus on your prospect and be a salesman in print. Think, “If I was in a room with my best prospect and needed to get his attention, engage him, present the reasons why he should buy and close the sale — what would I say to him?”
Then, let the conversation flow naturally out the ends of your fingers, to the keyboard and into your document.
Sometimes, I even close my eyes while I’m typing. I say this. He thinks — or says that. I respond this way. He reacts that way.
There’ll be plenty of time in later drafts to think about which rules you broke or didn’t follow. This draft is about speed. About following your best persuasive instincts.
Trick #6: Do some bedtime reading. Let your last act each day be to read what you’ve written that day. File it away in your subconscious mind.
And go to work the minute you wake up in the morning so the connections your brain made overnight find their way onto the page.
Do these six thing religiously on your next project and you’ll be amazed how much more quickly it goes and how much easier writing feels.
Hope this helps …
Yours for Bigger Winners, More Often,
Publisher & Editor
THE TOTAL PACKAGE
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