Rules for writing good copy

recently, I came across Jack Kerouac’s rules for writing well.

It inspired me to examine my own rules that I’ve been following consciously and unconsciously for writing sales copy over the past few years – particularly with emails.

So I typed my rules out. & decided to share them.

These are the rules I try and follow in every piece of copy I write, to ensure that it’s not only a compelling piece of sales material, but also a genuinely good piece of writing. 

Folks say you don’t have to be a good writer to be a good copywriter… 

…but you don’t have to not be a good writer either. & I feel it’s a bit of an insult to the intelligence of the reader to not put some time into the craft aspect of writing.

And that’s what these rules are for: the CRAFT.

So here they are. they’re shorthand for the most part, so feel free to ask for more explanation on any of them if you’re interested 🙂

copy poet’s writing rules:

  1. let unconscious flow write forward no deleting (Shitty First Draft)
  2. model what works (don’t reinvent the wheel)
  3. write in the key of C (Connect, Engage, Galvanize)
  4. your, you’re. get it right.
  5. Interbeing. this is because that is. everything’s connected.
  6. no neediness. be a Giver.
  7. grease the slide w/ every word
  8. no persuasion tricks. No turd polishing. If it ain’t valuable, don’t sell it.
  9. educate, revelate, entertain
  10. create golden vision of greater future within reach
  11. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (use 2-3)
  12. 4 Buyer Types (Impulse, Logic, Empathic, Deadline Rider) know who you’re writing to
  13. practice Economy of Words
  14. use 2nd Person WHEREVER Possible
  15. its, it’s. get it right.
  16. no implied fallibility.
  17. know your voice.
  18. dynamic lyrical journey (rhythm, meter, sentence & paragraph length, etc)
  19. write fearless. They asked to read this. No apologies.
  20. no pitching. Make authentic fiduciary invitations.
  21. be a friend. Kind. Respectful. Genuine belief in people.
  22. there, their, they’re. get it right.
  23. ascend, transcend, uplift emotionally & mentally. Write words worth reading no matter what. 

Them’s the rules (so far). Now that I read them, I think I’ll probably be breaking each one out into its own post in the coming days & weeks.

In the meantime… go forth & write things worth reading.

You’re Right.

How many seconds, minutes, hours, and days of your life do you spend doubting the validity of your beliefs & decisions?

How much time do you spend feeling frustrated or angry at people whose beliefs & decsions you judge to be “wrong,” while yours are “right?”

& how much emotional upset & suffering would you eliminate from your life if you ceased doubting your decisions & quit judging other people’s beliefs?

It’s human nature to divide ourselves into groups… somebody’s always right and somebody’s always wrong, right?

…WRONG. 😉

Truth is… there is no “Right” or “Wrong.”

There just… IS.

There’s no one “right” way of being in the world… because each and every one of us has our own one-of-a-kind way of being… each is changing and shifting from one moment to the next…

& each and every way of being is inherently RIGHT. Because they are the Truth of the moment. They are Reality.

And there’s no disputing Truth.

The beliefs of the people you disagree with did not arise within those people alone.

They were caused by conditions in the past and inherited in the here and now.

Right now there’s a prisoner on death row. You may look at him and call him “Bad” or “Wrong” for what he did years in the past…

But right now he’s just a dude sitting in a cold concrete room, longing for human contact. 

Forget the story, put yourself in his shoes in the here & now… Lonely & shivering… and it’s a lot harder to condemn.

Practice Compassion, Empathy, and living in the present moment and it becomes impossible to torture yourself with anger at people.

we are all just a product of the conditions that led to our existence.

We can’t help who our parents were, how our brains work, & how the experiences we’ve had shaped the paradigms through which we see the world.

Every single one of us is completely “Right” in the moment, because it’s the only way we can be.

So instead of doubting or judging yourself for past actions, or even the current conditions of your life…

& instead of looking at people that represent ways of being in the world that you don’t agree with…

Take stock of WHO you are & WHAT conditions are present in your life right now… what is TRUE…

and look to how you can direct the flow of that Truth toward the Truth that you desire for yourself in the future.

Vulnerability = Power

Seems like most people alive in the world today are afraid of being vulnerable. And it’s understandable…

We’ve got the fear of rejection coded into our genes…

& what is being Vulnerable besides actively exposing the most tender aspects of your self to the judgments & possible rejection of others?

What most people don’t realize though… is that Vulnerability gives you Power.

Because when you expose your truth like an open clam, one of two things will happen:

You’ll either A) feel truly seen and understood as you’re appreciated for the things that make you YOU… and at the same time, inspire others to also be vulnerable…

Or you’ll B) get rejected just like you were afraid of.

Thing is, there’s tremendous opportunity in actually experiencing this thing you’ve been protecting yourself from all your life… 

Because it’s only through experiencing Rejection that you truly come to realize…

That Rejection is nothing to be afraid of.

& the more you open yourself up & come face-to-face with Rejection… the more resistant your Vulnerable self becomes to it.

Until, eventually…

Rejection ceases to be a concern and you’re free to be You to the MAX.

24/7/365, no shites given about what anyone else thinks.

& as someone who’s made a practice of regularly exposing the soft gooey innards of my heart to this big, trol-infested world of ours…

Lemme tell ya: the initial discomfort is well-worth the feeling of being the Truest Version of Yourself.

Become the Work

I’ve been writing a lot lately. 3+ hours a day of output. For months now.

Hundreds of emails and sundry other copy for a myriad of clients… the first 20,000 words of my Sci-Fi/Fantasy epic… & more recently, blog posts.

I haven’t taken a word count of what I’ve produced this quarter, but I’d estimate a half a million words of legible, understanding, and (hopefully) compelling content.

I don’t say this to brag. I honestly have no idea how accurate that estimate is, or how it compares to the output of other people who write for a living.

The thing is, I never experienced writer’s block. & I never experienced frustration. Regardless of deadlines, frustrating client feedback, or anything else.

The reason why?

I’ve removed my ego from my creative process.

Instead staring at a screen, trying to force my brain to produce something I deem as “good” and casting judgment on the results of my efforts the entire time…

I am an instrument being manipulated by my muse.

& whether my results are pure shite or pure gold… I remain as equanimous as a guitar does, whether being played by a virtuoso or a complete beginner.

When you’re able to seperate yourself from ego and your judgments about the results of your work…

You BECOME the work itself. Nothing feels better than that.

Because you have the drive to create.

It feels like a PURPOSE for your time and energy… for your Life.

Every moment you can spend completely rooted in the activities that define you will be a truly fulfilling one.

The Process of creating is what matters more than anything. The results of your process are just a side effect.

Whether writing copy, fiction, or music.

Dwell in the bliss of chanelling your Muse without focusing on what the outcome might mean for your future.

Become the Work. Perform your function as a creator.

Without judgment. Every second you spend analyzing and critiquing your creations turns your mind into a bottleneck, limiting the amount that you can put out.

Judgment and creativity don’t mix… because judgment is a reflection of your ego and your concern over what others think about you.

Simply CREATE… Without it being about you.

You’ll feel energized by it.

You’ll remove the internal (emotional) barriers that clog up your genius.

You’ll flow. Words and ideas will sizzle through you like lightning.

Perhaps in some small corner of your brain, you’ll marvel at what you’re doing… but you won’t be attached.

Because attachment to the results will only inhibit your ability to produce the results you’ll be happy with.

So go crazy. Flow. Pretend to be the creative lyrical genius you wish you were…

Then look back on what you channeled while you were, and realize that you weren’t pretending after all.

The Ultimate Perspective on Life

There at two types of Truth.

Relative… and Ultimate.

Relative Truth is that which we agree on.

The grass is green. The sky is blue. Gravity is a thing. Spelling. Grammar. 1+1=2. Etc.

Relative Truth is useful, and necessary for humans to communicate, collaborate, and cohabit.

But too often, we get caught in Relative Truth… we perceive ourselves and the world around us according to what other people think and agree on.

We measure our own experiences alongside the experiences of others.

And we tell ourselves we should a feel a certain way because of all the Relative Truths we weave together to form the narrative of our lives.

We feel these feelings we think we’re supposed to feel… then we react to those feelings by thinking.

Memories of experiences past & Visions of experiences that haven’t happened yet.

Then we feel more feelings, based on the Relative Truths we infer from these thoughts.

Craving for things we once enjoyed or long to enjoy & aversion to things we disliked and are afraid of suffering through again in the future.

Suffering. Caused by a Perspective rooted in Relative Truth.

A perspective rooted in Ultimate Truth on the other hand…now we’re talking 😉

Ultimate Truth… True Wisdom… is experienced only in the present moment.

When you banish all thoughts of the past and future, what is your experience of THIS moment?

Unless you’re in horrible physical pain… chances are right now is pretty dang solid. Not much to complain about.

Maybe you’re hungry, maybe you have to pee… but overall, things are probably just peachy.

You can read. That’s pretty awesome.

You have time to read things that you’re interested in. Also awesome.

Maybe you’re in a beautiful place. Maybe there’s kickass music playing in the background. Chances are, there’sa whole lot of Awesome going on for you right now, that you might not have appreciated until this moment.

That’s Ultimate Truth — the AWESOMENESS that is existing at all.

And this Existence belongs entirely to you… the entire Universe in your mind.

Because without you here to experience it, how can it be said that ANYTHING exists at all?

It’s common sense that once we die the world’s going to keep on going.

People will keep on being born and living and dying over and over and over again…

Except, from where you’re sitting right now, reading this… That whole idea is simply a concept.

Each and every one of us can only measure Truth by our own experience of it.

And when you opt out of the Relative Truth Perspective and focus not on what you “should” feel and think and say and do and create (based on the expectations of your peers, society at large, and your own ego)…

And instead take the Ultimate Perspective and focus on your objective, judgment-free experience of your life in the here & now…

You might find a lot less to be worried about… and a lot more to be inspired by.

starving, spamming, or selling

where do you fall on the spectrum?

many creatives have a strong aversion to asking for attention…

let alone MONEY.

perhaps they feel that attaching a price to their art cheapens it…

that it CORRUPTS the SANCTITY of their creativity…

so they fall on the “STARVING” end of the spectrum — where they have to constantly compromise between having the TIME & RESOURCES to create…

or having the Quality of Life they truly desire.

I would give you an example, except all you have to do is look around the internet @ all the unknown artists who refuse to put out anything besides the art itself.

on the other hand, there are those artists who really subscribe to the “Hustle” mentality…

their ambition outweighs their artist’s guilt so they try their damndest to promote themselves and make their dreams a reality…

only they don’t know HOW to promote themselves.

so they end up on the “SPAMMING” end of the spectrum (bless their ambitious little hearts <3 )

you see a LOT of this on social media…

people who shamelessly (& unintelligibly) plug their stuff in the comments under posts without any attempt @ being relevant or starting a dialogue…

“COOL POST CHCK OUT MY NEW MIXTAPE”

ugh. total SPAM.

total turn off. makes anyone who reads it a little bit dumber.

Hustling is good.

Plugging your stuff is GREAT… but you have to find the happy medium between STARVING & SPAMMING.

see there’s a “sweet spot”, right on the middle of the spectrum that very few creatives arrive at naturally…

SELLING.

see, SELLING – in it’s highest form – is the Act of Awakening Someone To The Potential Of A New & Upgraded Reality That They Could Be Experiencing.

SELLING is Connecting The Dots.

SELLING is Empowering Someone to TAKE INTENTIONAL ACTION — which is one of the most Rewarding, Self-Affirming Experiences a Human Being can have.

& when you’re SELLING your music (or any type of art or creation for that matter) you are literally ALLOWING other human beings to become PARTICIPANTS in your Divine Process of Creativity.

SELLING is where it’s at, my friend.

the trick is to combine your STARVING artist’s Humility with your SPAMMING artist’s Hustle.

HUSTLE + HUMILITY
= ARTISTIC, AUTHENTIC SELLING.

boom.

remember: Your Art is PRICELESS & You Are Only A CHANNEL For It.

you’re pedaling GOD’S Goods, baby.

so how would you sell an album, if it was GOD’S album/book/painting?

you wouldn’t hide it away & feel guilty about asking for people to pay some attention to it…

you wouldn’t cheapen it by shoving it in people’s faces & hoping that someone pays attention (without caring whether people hate you for it)…

so the question is: what WOULD you do?

…got it?

good.

now go make it happen.