The Power of Immersion

This is my last day here at The Writer’s Life, so I want to leave you with the most important tip I have.

If you want to be a successful copywriter, you must do this. Without it, you’ll never make it. But with it, you can reach heights you’ve never imagined.

What is this magic technique?

I call it immersion. For some it’s practice; others simply know it as focus. But whatever you call it, the key is that you must dedicate yourself to studying copywriting and constantly working to become a better copywriter.

There’s the act of studying, and then there’s study in the sense of always learning.

Studying educational materials regularly gives you an edge, teaches you what to do and how to do it, and definitely improves your copywriting. I believe very strongly that taking copywriting courses is a big part of this.

Even more, I believe that a life dedicated to study, striving to be better always, gives you an even bigger edge in the long run. Once you’ve learned the basic techniques and built onto that by studying more advanced topics, it’s time to go out in the world and do it.

That’s where things get interesting. If all you know is what you learned from a training course, you’re no better in many important ways than another copywriter who took the same course.

But if you have been constantly learning, seeking copy outside your course, and deliberately practicing, you are more than a commodity. You are a real copywriter with a distinctive voice and real skill, not just book learning.

You get to this point of being a unique and highly skilled copywriter by practicing constantly toward improvement and by constantly studying, building a swipe file, and being aware of marketing copy all around you.

I call it immersion because you literally have to eat, breathe, and sleep copywriting. My wife and kids laugh at me now because I see everything as copywriting … every speech by a political leader … every commercial … every ad … heck, even every conversation. I’m always asking myself: how would I say or do that better? Or would I have said that as well?

At first, this will be easy because you’re eager to get started. In time, it will become a little dull because you’re still not proficient, but much of the initial excitement is gone – it’s still a conscious task. But then, almost without noticing, you’ll study naturally without even thinking about it. At least that’s how it’s been for me. Now, it’s hard for me to turn it off. I feel like Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid who sees karate in everyday life. And everyday life in karate.

Life is a copywriter’s classroom. You just have to make use of it. Study everything. Study everywhere. Study all the time. Immerse yourself in copywriting and marketing.

I know you’re going to do well. Thank you for allowing me to share this space with you for a week. If you have any questions for me, please post them in the comments section here.

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Published: July 20, 2012

9 Responses to “The Power of Immersion”

  1. Thanks for writing this article. I really enjoyed reading it. However, I beg to differ with all due respect.

    First, it is tricky to introduce your ideas in terms of words like "never" and "always" etc.

    After all, your work-life is seldom about absolutes: things are relative, as we all discover over time.

    Instead of immersion, it is better to be flexible and adapt to change and play with ideas. Take risks and experiment. Your work should be like a game instead of merely a discipline.

    Your argument clearly lacks a balanced approach toward work-life. And that remains my bone of contention here.

    Archan Mehta

  2. very cool, Mr. Sean McCool, if that's your real name! Oh, to have the confidence! to know that I can make it if only I apply myself!

    Guest (lady sings the blues)

  3. Thanks, Sean,

    I've been following your 'Writer's Life' posts this week (all of them great), but today's post about immersion really inspired me.

    I'll definitely follow your tips!


    Binita Patel

  4. Sean:

    Great series of articles on copywriting this week; I've enjoyed them IMMENSELY! (And I'm starting a swipe file right away, too.)

    Keep up the GREAT work, man.

    -- Jerry

    Guest (Jerry Slack)

  5. Thanks for your insights Sean. I have enjoyed them !

    Carlos Mikal

    Carlos Mikal

  6. Sean,

    Just wanted you to know that I appreciated your message in this article. It isn't enough to just study something you actually have to absorb it...

    Thanks for the reminder, Kim

    Guest (Kim)

  7. Thanks Sean for the boost today, and all the posts from the week. I agree, immersion is key, its about re-orienting my world, focusing on the words I see around me every day - ads, direct mail, newsletters etc - now they take on a whole new meaning!

    melissa waldron

  8. For some, it is better to approach work in a spirit of play.

    When you play, you feel free to take risks and experiment.

    When you play, you can create ideas through serendipity.

    This is a different approach from what you recommend, that is, hard work and discipline.

    Throughout history, there have been recorded and well-documented experiences of creatives: they have been at their creative best when they allowed their minds to function in this spirit of play.

    The lesson to be learned? Give free reign to your imagination and approach your work with child like wonder and curiosity.

    No need to put your shoulder to the wheel like a slave.

    Archan Mehta

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