What I Wish I Knew Then

Christina Gillick here with The Writer’s Life this week.

If you’re just starting your journey to the writer’s life, you may fear there are a million things to learn. I certainly did.

But the truth is, there are only a handful of things you need to know to get started. The rest can be picked up as you work with clients and build your business.

Don’t fall into the trap of letting the things you don’t know hold you back.

This week, I’ll take you on a journey where you’ll discover the basics you need to know to take action towards living your own writer’s life.

But before we get started, I want to put your mind at ease by saying you can never know it all.

Once you have the copywriting basics down, a new technique or technology will come along. And each client will have a different product and a different set of challenges. There’s no getting around doing research for every client, even if you already know a lot about his or her niche.

It’s far more important to know the basics and be able to apply them to different situations. (You can read my article on which basics I review often here.)

Being able to ask the right questions is also key. You should also have a go-to resource, like AWAI, for when you get stuck and need some help.

Once you have a good understanding of the basics, you can take a page from Nike’s handbook. Their “Just Do It” slogan explains what it takes to succeed in just three simple words. Don’t spend all your time preparing. Just do it.

Michael Masterson really brought this concept to the writing world with his book and philosophy Ready, Fire, Aim.

What is Ready, Fire, Aim?

It’s a practice you can use to move past hurdles that keep you from making progress with your business. You move forward with your plans and take action, even if you don’t have every little detail worked out.

The little details are what keep us from getting started. They allow us to procrastinate. Plus, even when you have the “perfect” plan, life often throws a kink in it, requiring you to make adjustments.

I have personally paid the price for too much planning without action, and I would hate to see that happen to you too.

I have always tried to make everything as perfect as possible before sending it out into the world. Naturally, I balked when I first heard of Ready, Fire, Aim.

But because I make a point to follow the advice of experienced people, I gave it a try.

My first experience using the Ready, Fire, Aim principle was when I launched my own copywriting website.

I wanted to compete in the “Build Your Freelance Website In 4 Days” Challenge, and it had a specific deadline. Because of this deadline, I was forced to do only the essentials.

Sure, I wanted to spend more time on the layout. I would have agonized over the copy. It would have been great to launch with a full blog and pages describing each of my services.

But all those things would have held me back from actually launching my site.

Instead, I did the essential and launched it into the world. I won the competition, even without spending all the extra time.

After that experience, I live by Ready, Fire, Aim.

Before we go on, it’s important to realize I’m not saying to do mediocre work. I’m saying don’t agonize over every detail – especially when it comes to preparing for something.

Take your own promotional materials, for example. Would it be better to follow the advice of other copywriters, write the best letter you can, and send it? Or would it be better to change the font 10 times and agonize over every word?

The sooner you get something out there, the faster you’ll know if it works or not. If you find it’s not performing, you can write another version and test it against your original. This allows you to improve as you get results rather than simply guessing what you could do to make it better.

So what about you? Are you procrastinating or practicing Ready, Fire, Aim?

If you have a plan but don’t know the fastest way to get it up and running, comment below so we can help you.

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Published: April 23, 2012

7 Responses to “What I Wish I Knew Then”

  1. As I contemplate the suggestions in the article, I attempt to start and immediately run into a brick wall. How and where do I get hold of the resources necessary to advance my idea? I have a "game-changer" idea that can create a whole new industry. Writing about it now will only excite interest and encourage others to formulate actionable steps for their realization of my dream. In other words, if I tell others about this, they will take my dream and run with it leaving me here alone in the dust with my pencil and paper.
    What steps can I take to secure, realize and retain ownership of my dream?

    Guest (msw)April 23, 2012 at 10:01 am

  2. Hey Christina, anxiously awaiting the start of the next "Build Your Freelance Website In 4 Days” challenge. Definitely time to fire the first salvo. Thanks for this excellent reminder to just do it.

    Alan SteacyApril 23, 2012 at 10:03 am

  3. "A violent plan executed today is better than a perfect plan executed tomorrow." Gen. George Patton. (paraphrased from memory)

    Guest (Gary Cunnane)April 23, 2012 at 12:08 pm

  4. MSW - I think you'll find this article by Joshua Boswell helpful:


    Let me know what you think.

    Alan - You're welcome. Thank you for the support. Good luck with the challenge!

    Gary - Great quote! Thank you!

    Christina GillickApril 25, 2012 at 12:15 pm

  5. It is better to aim for excellence rather than perfection.

    As a copywriter, you can't afford to do a mediocre job.

    Sooner of later, you will pay the price for it.

    But you have to make sure that your copy that you submit is up to the mark.

    In the final analysis, doing quality work is what separates the men from the boys, as the saying goes.

    The copy you submit should be part art and part craft and free of mistakes.

    If you are a true professional, you must be able to submit work that looks the part.

    Archan MehtaJune 23, 2012 at 6:43 am

  6. Hi Archan,

    I agree. I wasn't saying to do a mediocre job. I was saying not to spend all your time preparing.

    I think this article will help explain:


    Christina GillickJune 25, 2012 at 9:31 am

  7. Hi msw,

    I recommend finding someone you trust with the experience you need to guide you to the next step. If you'd like to tell me more, I may be able to point you in the right direction. You can find me here: https://twitter.com/chrisgillick

    Best, Christina

    Christina GillickOctober 15, 2013 at 1:15 pm

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