Writing is hard.
Especially copywriting. Especially when you write copy or content about you, your business or that something special you have to offer.
I hear it from my clients all the time “I hate writing copy. It’s so hard. I’m no good at it…” and on and on.
And I get it. I know how “hard” it can feel when you’re staring at a blank page, knowing you need to write something brilliant. Or you have a message you want to shout out to the world but you’re so afraid it won’t “sound” right or be understood.
But this “writing is hard” thing… it’s a crock.
And I’m putting that lie to rest right now.
Writing is not hard. After all, it’s just the process of putting words down on paper. You sit. You write a word and then another. That’s writing.
Writing only becomes “hard” when you’re judging, evaluating and critiquing every word you write as you write it. Writing is hard only when you try to write and edit at the same time. (Go ahead and tweet that. It’s so tweetable.)
But writing can be a blast when you let yourself write when you write, and edit when you edit.
See, writing is a creative process. It calls upon the creative part of your mind, or what I call “wild horse mind”… the part of your mind that’s impulsive, instinctual, illogical and refuses to be tamed.
When you let the wild horse of your mind loose to run, buck, and play all over the page, writing can be a playful, surprising and very enjoyable ride. It’s not hard at all. You’re just letting yourself run wild with your ideas, thoughts, impulses and writing them down.
But writing also calls upon your more logical, linear mind, what I call “the editor” (or maybe I should call it, the horse trainer?). Your editor doesn’t want your wild horse mind to run free and fast all over the page. Your logical, linear editor wants to control your creativity and focus it in order to produce something clear, compelling, interesting and, of course, impressive.
Your inner editor is often even more controlling and tight-reined when you’re writing copy because you’re trying to follow all these rules and good copywriting guidelines while, at the same time, asking your creative mind to deliver words and phrases that are fresh, authentic and true.
So, how can you get around this war between the two parts of your mind? How can you access the full power of each of these important aspects without making every writing project a torturous slog of endless frustration?
Let Your Wild Horse Run Free
First, before you even put pen to paper or fingertips to keyboard, ask yourself 3 questions: “To whom am I writing? What do I want to say? Why do I want to say it?” The answers to these questions will corral your intentions for this particular piece you’re about to write.
Now tell your editor to take a hike. He or she is not invited to this joy ride.
Put your pen to paper or get your fingers on your keyboard, and let the wild horse of your mind run free all over the page. No judgment. No holding back. No rules. No trying to control the flow, phrasing or direction of your thoughts, your ideas or your words.
Let that wild horse of creative thought run wherever it wants to go. Let it dart off the trail, gallop to the edge of a cliff, switch back and trot off in a new direction, tail flying, ears forward, eyes wide and ready for what’s next. Trust that wild horse to take you wherever you need to go…. as well as places you never knew you could go.
Keep writing without stopping until you’re sweaty and spent, with nothing more to say.
What you’ll have at the end of this wide ride is one big mess. A crazy dust storm of ideas, points, nonsense, lists, analogies, asides and random thoughts. But within that mess are some brilliant, vibrant gems – thoughts and phrases that came from your core and your authentic, wild voice.
Now, Ask Your Editor to Saddle Up
Take your pages and pages of wild writing and invite your objective, clear-thinking inner editor to get in the saddle. Let your “editor mind” read through what you’ve written as you take a pen and circle those pieces, those gems that communicate and support your intended message. Let your inner editor assemble those pieces in some kind of logical order that makes sense and will be easy for your reader to read.
From here, your editor mind will notice where there are “holes,” those places where you need to write a bit more in order to transition from one point to the next. Or you may need to write a few new paragraphs to flesh out one of those “gems” you dusted off from your creative mess.
Or you may discover, after reading your wild writing, that there’s something else that needs to be said. Your core message is still hiding behind the dust clouds and hasn’t quite surfaced yet. If that’s the case, let yourself do another round of wild horse writing to get it out and onto the page.
Now, I know you might be thinking “Damn, this process will take too much time. All this wild horse writing… and then editing. Why can’t I write it perfectly the first time and be done with it?” Well, if you can do that, go ahead!
But I’ll tell you, if you let yourself write wild and free first, then come back to edit what you’ve written, it will take you a lot less time then squirming and sweating before a blank page, tearing up what you’ve written every 10 minutes, and stomping away from your desk because you think every sentence sucks.
Besides, it’s so much fun to let your wild horse run and write without judgment or any need to make it behave a certain way.
So, what do you say? Will you give it a try?
If the idea of writing wild and free until you’re sweaty and spent sounds too scary or too much for you, set a timer and write wild for 10-15 minutes. Then take a break and come back for another 10-15 minutes.
And one more tip. If you’re writing wild and free and suddenly you can’t think of anything to say, your mind goes blank and the words dry up, just keep your hand moving (or your fingers typing) and write “and, and, and” until the next thought pops into your head. There is always another thought. You can count on it.