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Maybe The Best Copywriting Tip Ever

Want to know how to overcome your fear of writing, writer’s block or the obsession with getting the right words?

Well, Andrea, over a Baby Steps…To Getting Started Online Today, has a great post that might just be the best copywriting tip I’ve seen.

She says, “You allow your subconscious to do the work for you.

Pretty simple, huh? But what does it mean?

Well, for me, it means getting out of the way of making your words perfect. When I’m writing a blog post, I’m not writing for a Pulitzer or to recreate the English language with flowing prose.

Rather, I’m looking to express my thoughts, ideas, opinions and knowledge just as I am…just as if we were having a conversation. That’s the way I approach writing – as a conversation…a conversation with you.

So, forget all the rules you learned in school (though spelling, punctuation and simple grammar are quite helpful). Forget that your 7th grade English teacher told you math was your subject not writing (yep, happened to me). And just write. Write how you speak. In other words, have a conversation with your readers.

And when you feel like you’re writing in a conversational style with your readers, then check out these resources to help you go to the ‘next level:”

Really, there’s tons of great posts on copywriting in the blogosphere. These are only a few.

What are you favorite posts? When sitting down to write, what’s really worked for you? And what do you think of the ‘best copywriting tip ever?’ Is it?

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Comments

  1. Stuart Baker says:

    Hi Dawud,

    Wow, lots of really good information here.

    You and Mark Silver helped me write conversationally, which FEELS good.

    I started reading some of the linked advice you list. It is a whole course!

    Thanks.

    Stuart Baker
    http://www.consciouscooperation.com

  2. I wouldn’t call myself a copywriter, just a writer. I agree absolutely about the need to be conversational, but I often forget about all the skills it takes to be conversational.

    1) typing skills. 60 words per minute at least
    2) conversation skills. Some people just don’t have them.
    3) an intuitive understanding of the basic sentence. And the confidence to keep the sentences simple.
    4) a love of reading. You can learn to write if you don’t read. Period.

    My favorite writing resource of all time is Annie Dillard’s book The Writing Life. I posted some thoughts about her several months ago in a post called “Wash Away Writer’s Block with SOAP.

  3. As I was pondering this topic, I saw an ad for a magazine called “Dare to Explore!” That sounds like great writing advice. It reminds me of Joel Saltzman’s silly mantra, “I’m going to have some fun here. I’m going to play around and discover some really neat stuff.” It’s a great way of overcoming writer’s block.

    But isn’t that self-indulgent? What about your reader? I agree with Bruce Springsteen, “All I try to do is to write music that feels meaningful to me, that has commitment and passion behind it…. [If] what I’m writing about is real, and if there’s emotion, then, hey, there’ll be someone who wants to hear it.”

  4. Stuart,

    Thanks. I tried to include some really good resources in the post. But truthfully, this is only skimming the iceberg. Personally, I have bookmarked hundreds of great posts on writing for blogs.

    Mark,

    Great points. Though with #2, conversation skills…almost all of us speak to each other. And the great majority of us have friends. So even if we’re not the most articulate communicators, we can still do a good enough job writing by conversation to attract readers.

    And…the only way to get better is to practice. Don’t you think?

    Jean

    Absolutely. There’s a balance between you and your reader. Remember, your readers want to know more about you and what you know. Yet, they want to be understood and see that you relate to them in your writing. So it is a bit self-indulgent – and yet, not.

  5. Dawud, I’m right there with you! Definitely the only way to get better is to practice.

    That’s why I love blogging. The quicker the feedback loop–which is very quick in a blog post’s comment section–the easier it is for writers to recognized what worked, what didn’t, and begin to speculate on what they need to do differently next time.

  6. Dawud,
    You write, “Remember, your readers want to know more about you and what you know. Yet, they want to be understood and see that you relate to them in your writing.” I don’t believe that’s what Bruce Springsteen was saying. He was saying have courage to write what is deep and meaningful for you and trust that someone will want to hear/read it.

  7. About letting your subconscious do your writing…there’s a bit more to it than that. The five steps of the creative process are:
    (1) preparation, (2) gestation, (3) illumination, (4) execution, and (5) checking/verifying. We need to give the subconscious material to work with, that’s the preparation stage. Andrea’s talking about the gestation period, and I heartily agree. We need to relax and appreciate the work our subconscious is doing in the background, out of sight.

  8. Indeed.

    I just had this same writing with *your* voice discussion with someone who said “I don’t know how to write, I only write the way I talk.” I had to show her several of my personal blog posts (http://shamari.wordpress.com) to let her “hear” how I write the way I speak and then she started to catch my drift.

    Blogging is my favorite form of writing and precisely because it’s just me having a dialog with whoever happens to be reading the words, but I can’t really see the commercial aspect to it (although logically I know what that is).

  9. Hi!!

    Remind me not to disappear for a day again!! Thanks for this incredible mention.. I have already sent it to my family to brag!! You already know how I feel about you!

    Jean,

    thanks for laying it out so nicely.. I like that my ideas are ‘gestating’ while I am hanging out with my kids – makes sense :).

    Char et al,

    How do you define the difference between writing as you speak and writing as a conversation? Unless the way she speaks is filled with ‘umm, like, & ya knows’, arent we doing just that, with a little more flair, better grammar, and less interruptions?

    Have a great day!!

  10. Dawud[quote comment="8240"]

    Char et al,

    How do you define the difference between writing as you speak and writing as a conversation? Unless the way she speaks is filled with ‘umm, like, & ya knows’, arent we doing just that, with a little more flair, better grammar, and less interruptions?[/quote]

    Sure but she was grappling with how that write the way you talk thing. Sometimes you have to “see” or “hear” it to understand how a given thing works.

    I think, to some degree, writing how you speak is the selection of words/jargon/venacular whereas a conversation is anticipation of how people are responding (or will respond) to what you are writing/saying. At least, that’s the distinction I usually make.

    Hope you are having a good day, yourself :)

  11. Mark,
    Did you see Brian Clark’s post 10 Steps to Being A Better Writer? It’s exactly what he says.

    Jean,
    Yeah, let your passion flow in your writing. And, to create conversation and build relationships, you want to write in a way that meets your readers. I’m guess Mr. Springstein would agree that a song needs to move an audience.

    Andrea,
    Sure. I saw your post and was quite moved by it (as was Ponn). Thank you so much for your kind words. How do you use your writing to engage the conversation?

    Char,
    I’m with you…I suggest write as you talk because I think it softens the pressure to write flowing prose. And, it leads to the conversation. I just realized that as I write this comment to you, I’m speaking just under my breath as though we’re sitting together, talking. Do you have similar experiences?

    BTW, I’ve always been a big fan of the word venacular. I just love the way it sounds. Thanks for getting it into my blog.

  12. After a week of seeing people I consider good writers claim to be “not good writers” your post arrived at an excellent time for me. I’m planning on exploring those links more when I have more time, but for now I added it to my weekly wrap up. ;) Excellent post – very well put together with plenty of great further reading, well done! ;)

    Snoskred
    http://www.snoskred.org/

  13. Very intersting tip although this is nothing new. Copywrighters such as Halbert and Fortin has teached this for decades, good reminder though.

  14. Stuart Baker says:

    Hi again Dawud, Char, and all,

    Char, I think it was you who said that for you conversation includes anticipation of how another may respond. Did I get that right? If it is right, I see it differently.

    For me, real good conversation involves focused LISTENING in the moment. The more I try to anticipate how someone may respond, the more I limit how much they really come through into me.

    Regarding letting the subconscious work, it can be such a wonderful source of inspiration and connections.

    Thanks,

    Stuart Baker
    wwww.consciouscooperation.com

  15. Stuart Baker says:

    Hi Dawud,

    Yes, I like what you say. If I have it right, you listen into the “voice” of the writer, or speaker.

    I was just listening to a Sean D’Souza audio about how customers tend to listen with pre-conceived notions and therefore actually miss some part of who we are and what we are saying. Pretty true across the board, I think.

    Thanks.

    Stuart Baker

  16. Snoskred,
    Thanks. I don’t know many people who would say about themselves that they’re good writers. But isn’t good writing in the hands of the reader? What do you think?

    Guide Study,
    It’s definitely not new. Yet doesn’t it go well to remind people from time to time? I know I forget.

  17. I like what Jean said, but I prefer a coffee analogy over a preganancy one. Gestation become percolation, that sort of thing. At the end, I get to have a nice cup of coffee instead of another 6 months without sleep.

    Dawud, I did see Brian’s post last week. Fun. It reminds me of the writing process I used to teach. In fact, you inspired me to post that process over at GoodWordEditing.com – 5 Easy Editing Steps to Polish Your Writing

  18. Stuart,
    Interesting point on listening. I certainly agree. Even when reading comments, I stop and read. I try to hear your responses in your voice. And I respond with whatever’s natural for me in the conversation.

    Mark,
    Coffee analogy better than pregnancy for sure. Having kids makes everything so big. Yet a cup of coffee leaves room to make mistakes, toss it out, start over or wait ’til tomorrow.

    If you like Brian’s post, here’s David Airey’s 10 Steps to Great Logo Design.

    Also, I make your link in the last comments live so people can follow it.

  19. Stuart,
    Yeah, not just with customers. Everyone does this. And this is one of the few times I can use an absolute statement. We don’t have a choice – either as the customer or as the business owner. We’ll only hear what we’re capable of and have attention and awareness for. And little more.

  20. Mark,
    Thanks for the coffee analogy. It made my day. :)

  21. Jean,

    I’ve met Mark, so I understand what you mean.

  22. Thanks Jean! You made mine.

  23. Hi Guys..

    I like the coffee analogy too, but since I have never had a cup of coffee before in my life, and I do make babies… that’s what occured to me :)

    Dawud,

    My kids are always saying ‘who are you talking to??’, since I talk a lot under my breath (or outloud!) when I am writing..

    so how do you BLOG without anticipating a response or should you? of course the challenge with blogging is that we could get so wrapped up in OUR side of the conversation that we may become guiltier (more than usual) of thinking ahead for a response, since we in fact are only imagining, when we write, the answers WE anticipate..

    When you realize you cant prepare yourself for the feedback you may receive, things get shaken up and blogging becomes more fun.

    Of course the better you get, and the more followers you have, you revert back to the former, except now its a good thing, and perhaps thats when you become a blogging conversationalist.

    Man I wonder sometimes if I make any sense :)

  24. Andrea,
    Boy, great question. One that deserves its own blog post, I think.

    For me, I simply try to leave space for the conversation in my posts. I don’t worry about where that conversation goes so much. I trust that you and everyone else who joins in will take the conversation where it needs to go.

    Do you know what I mean?

  25. great article, I often get in my own way as well! I am always second guessing my self when I write.

  26. Eve,
    Why do you second guess yourself when you write?

  27. [quote comment="8341"]
    Char,

    I’m with you…I suggest write as you talk because I think it softens the pressure to write flowing prose. And, it leads to the conversation. I just realized that as I write this comment to you, I’m speaking just under my breath as though we’re sitting together, talking. Do you have similar experiences?
    BTW, I’ve always been a big fan of the word venacular. I just love the way it sounds. Thanks for getting it into my blog.[/quote]

    Hi Dawud,

    Yes, I frequently mutter aloud my meanderings but, perhaps fortunately, there’s usually only me here to hear them.

    Thanks for not commenting on my typo. Being Keyboard Dysfunctional (aka KDF) continues to be an issue for me. :)

    I love words, how they look/sound/and feel when you say them!

  28. Char,
    Thanks Char. You’re too sweet, really.

    I have some words I mistype constantly. But now Camino uses OS X’s dictionary to check spelling in all forms on the fly. It’s awesome. I’m guessing you’re using something similar on Firefox?

  29. Doug Barger says:

    Hi Dawud,

    Just letting your writing help them to see that it was really their idea to buy all along anyway and that you had nothing to do with it.

  30. Doug,
    Except helping them see…

  31. As I was pondering this topic, I saw an ad for a magazine called “Dare to Explore!” That sounds like great writing advice. It reminds me of Joel Saltzman’s silly mantra, “I’m going to have some fun here. I’m going to play around and discover some really neat stuff.” It’s a great way of overcoming writer’s block.

  32. Whoa!

    Thanks for the great tip. We are a group providing content to many websites and these are good sets of ebooks to learn.

    I’m also trying to create copywriting articles in my site for my own and my visitors guidelines.

    Keep up

  33. This is obviously one great post. Thanks for the valuable information and insights you have so provided here. Keep it up!

  34. I thought this was a fantastic article.

    I am a copywriter and often times I use these same techniques to break free from stuck points.

    I learned from my mentor that if you just sleep on the problem but ask your mind to give you the answer, when you wake you may find you will have it.

    It’s a tool that should be in every copywriter’s arsenal. In fact, regardless of your job, it should be used. The mind is powerful.

    Jay Simcic

  35. SEO,
    Great point. I’ve done the same thing with my business and clients – go to bed and ask for the solution. And what do you know, I wake up in the morning with it. Pretty neat, huh?

    Who knew that I was most effective when I was asleep?

  36. MSN hack programma says:

    @ Dawud Miracle

    The same thing happens to me sometimes. I am going frustrated to bed and when I wake up in the morning, the answer is so easy as possible.

  37. Dawud,

    Excellent collection of advice there. Saved me a bunch of room in my bookmarks ;)

  38. Runescape hack programma says:

    @ MSN hack programma

    Such things happens time over time to me. Mostly when I gave up, the next day it seems that I have the solution. Mostly it is the solution, but sometimes the solution I created in my mind isn’t the one I prefered.

  39. Love this tip “Write how you speak. In other words, have a conversation with your readers.”
    I much prefer to read something as though someone has written what there speaking!

  40. Lots of really good information here. You and Mark Silver helped me write conversationally, which FEELS good.

  41. This is a really good tip here, Dawud. Thanks! I didn’t really expect to learn this much from this post. Guess I was wrong in that regard. :)

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