Kill Your Ego

If there’s one thing you need to axe if you want to become a first-rate copywriter – it’s your ego.

Why do I say this?

Because every Master copywriter I’ve had the good fortune to meet – Bob Bly, David Deutsch, Paul Hollingshead, Michael Masterson, John Forde, Don Mahoney, and others – has one admirable trait in particular that stands out: Humility.

While they are confident in their copywriting skills, they are also humble. They listen to one another’s ideas and suggestions without defensiveness. And although they know far more than most of us who are just starting out, they never need to make us feel small so they can feel big.

This is because the true Master realizes he’ll never know everything there is to know about his craft, and acts accordingly.

David Deutsch – Master copywriter who holds four Boardroom controls (nothing to sneeze at) – says that the best writers he knows have a "perpetual sense of dissatisfaction" with their work and always feel they can improve.

Michael Masterson explains that before you can master any subject, you must first admit your incompetence and go from there. While feeling dissatisfied and incompetent may not sound pleasant to those of us who are early in our copywriting careers, it explains a lot about the mastery mindset.

There is no room for ego. All that matters is writing the best copy you possibly can – and having the willingness to keep honing it until it is not just good but great. Your core desire should be to reach the heart and mind of your prospect – and, ultimately, to get the control.

And to accomplish this, you must do what’s necessary to get there … even if it means doing more research, rewriting, and taking criticism from copywriters who’ve been around longer than you.

It especially means taking criticism from non-writers you show your work to – because these people are your potential prospects.

It’s a relief, when you think about it. In our line of work, there’s no need to be clever or charming. Or good-looking … or well-dressed. Being a Master copywriter is about nothing more – and nothing less – than writing great copy.

But when your ego is in charge, you’re more interested in being right. Or being admired or complimented … or stroked. Which might feel good temporarily, but it doesn’t help you write great copy.

This attitude gets in the way of ever achieving true mastery.

That’s why you need to kill your ego if you’re going to become a Master copywriter. Find other ways to exercise your ego (if you need to). Become a wine expert. Engage in political arguments with friends where you can assert your point of view.

But when it comes to copywriting, the path to mastery is to adopt the mastery mindset always striving to know more, always trying to do better, always ready to listen to feedback and advice. It will take you much further than your ego ever will.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »

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Published: November 28, 2005

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