How to overcome fear
and write copy that ROCKS!
Just about every copywriter hears it. Some louder than others.
That little voice that says, “You suck”.
That fear of failure — that self-doubt can stifle and even paralyze you — if you don’t get it under control.
Well here are a few tips I use regularly to conquer the angst and worry. Believe me — they work!
Embrace the fear!
Face it: Fear is a good motivator.
I fear being homeless, so I get up to work every day. I fear the law of gravity, so I don’t jump out of 5-story buildings.
So, fear of failure can also motivate you to succeed. Next time the negative tape kicks in, try this:
Go ahead and let that tape play. But this time, listen to it like a typical teenager — arms crossed, head bobbing from side to side and rolling your eyes. In other words, with ATTITUDE!
When the tape is over, say, “Ok, are you done? Because I’m going to prove you wrong…Wrong…WRONG!”
If you already have a successful promotion, find it and re-read it. Then ask yourself: “Hey, who wrote this killer copy? Oh, yeah, I DID — and I can do it again!”
Then get your butt in gear and move on to …
Baby step your way to success!
If the project overwhelms you, then set some small goals. For example…
Day 1: Just open the start kit box and peek inside. Don’t take out the contents. Just see if anything immediately grabs your attention. If not, that’s ok. You’ve accomplished your goal for the day.
Day 2: Remove contents and organize your material.
Day 3: Read just one thing. After that, stop. If you’re starting to get excited, then go ahead — you can read another thing … and another … get the picture?
Baby steps help you break down a large, overwhelming job into small, manageable tasks. If you’re an organized person, then schedule out the project. For example …
By week 1: I plan to write an outline.
By week 2: I will work on sidebars.
Me? I’m more of an eclectic writer — I just start reading and when I get an “aha” moment — you know, when you read something that just grabs your attention — I type up my thoughts on the computer. For example …
… I worked on a project for a major health mailer for a book on diabetes. As I read the book, I typed up interesting factoids and bullets. I also jotted notes for possible sidebars and came up with three potential headlines.
By the time I finished reading the book, I had the guts of the package already written. All I needed to do was organize my thoughts, add some additional connective paragraphs, fine tune the copy and finalize the sucker!
A project that originally overwhelmed me was now painlessly completed!
And several times throughout the reading process, I purposely took the time to …
Dream … Dream … DREAM!
I would read about 30 pages of the book, and then take one of many fantasy breaks. Imagine this:
Your client calls you on the phone and says, “Carline (YOUR name goes here, by the way) we LOVE the package! We think it’s killer copy and we love working with you!”
Then imagine so many royalty checks coming in the mail that you have to buy a mailbox the size of a Bull Mastiff dog house to handle all that moolah! (Ok, — I said FANTASIZE!)
Now, as you reach your daily or weekly goals, make sure to …
Reward yourself often!
In other words, treat yourself with presents!
Daily goal rewards should be small. For me, it’s a scoop (or three) of Baskin Robbins Pralines ‘n Cream ice cream. Talenti Sea Salt caramel gelato with mango sorbet topped with almonds is a close second.
Weekly goals can be a manicure … movie matinee … playing with my grandsons – whatever! These treats always motivate me to finish up a sidebar or premium copy.
In no time flat, you’re wrapping up your first draft. But before you turn in the copy — make sure you follow this very important step:
Incubate … and then kill your babies!
Put away the copy for a few days. This is what I call the copy incubation period. Don’t even look at your copy. Give your mind and creative juices a break.
Then, pick up the copy and read it like you’ve never seen it before. Pretend you’re the recipient of that mailing piece. Since most writers treat their words like babies, this is the time to kill your babies!
Red line any unnecessary words. For example, “that” is probably one of the most overused and unnecessary words in the English language. Kill it whenever possible!
Mark areas in the copy where you laugh … cry … or even yawn. Watch out for double meanings that can sabotage your copy. Fix areas where copy flow is interrupted. And make sure to ask yourself, “Will this make sense to my reader?”
After you’ve finished this editing stage, you’re ready to send your masterpiece off to your client!
And if you’ve followed the basic rules of copywriting… developed your theme properly… talked “to” your reader instead of “at” him… presented him with an offer he couldn’t refuse…
… Then you’re well on your way to your next killer control!
Until next time,
Yours for stellar results,
Million-Dollar Copywriter & Consultant