No-Regrets Copywriting

The other day, I turned in a direct-mail package that had been particularly difficult to write. It wasn't that the product didn't have any substance – it was quite the opposite, actually. The product had so much to offer that it was hard to single out the "big" promise.

After writing six or seven drafts (all of which took a different angle), I finally came up with a version that I thought was the best approach. So, I settled in and revised it like crazy. I submitted the copy the morning it was due and waited for comments.

Several days later, when I hadn't heard a word (which is quite unusual for this client), all kinds of thoughts started racing through my mind …

What if I had completely missed the mark? What if my client never offered me another assignment? Maybe I jumped into the copywriting game too soon and should have taken things more slowly.

After a couple of days of this self-induced torture, I realized two things that immediately made me feel better. First, I knew I had done the very best I could on the project. And second, I realized that whether my copy was brilliant, mediocre, or a piece of crap, I was going to keep on keeping on.

It's hard to separate yourself from the copy you write. Especially when you put so much of your time, energy, and concern into it. So you find yourself sitting by the phone, frequently checking your e-mail, or running to the mailbox – anxiously waiting for what you hope will be glowing approval from your client.

It's natural to want to please your client. There's no substitute for hearing "I love it!" or "You did a great job!" But don't connect your self-worth to the comments you receive. If you get positive feedback, pat yourself on the back and keep working hard. If the feedback isn't so good, do what it takes to do a better job the next time.

The bottom line is this: If you do the best you can on each and every assignment, you shouldn't have any regrets. And that will make it easier to stay cool and calm while your copy works its way through the system.

Oh – in case you were wondering – I finally heard from my client yesterday. It turns out that she was very pleased with the package! She had minimal comments that took only 15 minutes to address. Whew!

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: September 15, 2003

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