Learn to Grab Your Genius

Cindy Cyr with a tip on how to blast through your writing barriers …

After reading one of my articles, “How to Create Breakthrough Moments,” a reader commented recently: “I am passionate about succeeding and yet feel frozen to proceed!”

Maybe you can relate?

Do you feel stuck? Are you unsure whether your ideas, headlines, and leads or copy are any good?

Do you have copy started, but aren’t sure how to proceed?

If you do, it’s a perfectly natural way to feel. I remember spending days “thinking” about how to tackle a project or what to write.

I’d think of something and immediately talk myself out of writing it down.

It was as if I had a copywriting angel on one shoulder feeding me ideas and a copywriting devil on the other telling me they stunk.

The truth is, all that “thinking” and “questioning” gets you nowhere fast.

So here is the writing push-up for “thawing out” and moving past your uncertainties.

Writing Push-up #3: Grab Your Genius

Step One: Write everything down

Don’t edit. Good or bad, just write. Put everything down, no matter how many words or mistakes.

The bit about not editing is important because your “mistakes”—when written down—can potentially spark brilliance. If you don’t write them down, your ideas are lost.

Award-winning songwriter and commercial songwriting coach Rick Beresford (George Jones and The Everly Brothers have recorded his songs) describes this process as “capturing your genius as it floats by.”

He says you never know when genius is going to strike and you may not even recognize it at the time. The lesson here is don’t miss your “genius” because you failed to write it down.

He also says, “Don’t write safe.” Always push your limits.

Step Two: Recognize your genius

So how do you find your “genius”? How do you know if your idea is good or not? Examine your list and look for what Beresford calls “the spark.” Look for:

  • A good story
  • A mystery or problem that needs solving
  • Words or details that paint pictures
  • Repetition—do you see the same idea, theme, or problem repeating?

Step Three: Work the puzzle

Take a good piece, whether it’s a phrase or chunk of copy, and work from there. Beresford says, “Find all the good pieces and put them together, like working a puzzle without the box.”

To find all your “good pieces,” do the following:

  1. Underline or bold phrases that stand out when you read your copy. Look for anything that creates a vivid picture. For example, let’s say you’re writing about public speaking. You’d underline the phrases “get booked at big events” and “turn speaking into wealth” because they both conjure up an image in people’s minds.
  2. Use a different color for each theme, and highlight prevalent themes in their respective color (i.e., pink for theme #1, orange for theme #2, etc.). Let’s say you recognize four themes: speaking strategies, ways to increase your speaking income, creating products to sell at your speaking engagements, and booking speaking engagements.
  3. Find the dominant benefit by tallying the number of times each theme is highlighted. Let’s pretend you found six speaking strategies, four booking engagement strategies, three ways to increase your income, and two tips for creating products to sell. Seeing that speaking strategies is the dominant theme, you can use this to help you come up with the big idea for your headline and lead. Or you can look for a common denominator among your themes. In this example, three of the four themes relate to how to increase your income from speaking. So that is a better big idea for your headline.
  4. Copy and paste the underlined and highlighted pieces of copy into a new document, leaving the rest behind. You might also consider arranging your themed pieces together in your new document.

Step Four: The power of simple

Still stuck? Beresford says, “Never underestimate the power of simplicity.” When you get stuck, go simple. Often an idea is too complicated. Simplifying it makes it brilliant. For instance, if an idea is expressed in four sentences, see if you can explain it in one instead.

Another way to simplify is to check for the “Power of One.” In other words, are you trying to express too many ideas? Make sure your headline, article, paragraph, etc. focus on one idea only.

Do you have ways you move past your writing roadblocks? Share them with me below so others can try them too.

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The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: September 28, 2011

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