On Hemingway, Inspiration, and Acting on
Big Ideas

Ernest Hemingway wrote most of For Whom the Bell Tolls from Finca Vigía ("Lookout Farm") in Havana, Cuba. Hemingway's 1925 trip to Spain inspired his classic novel The Sun Also Rises. And his time in Paris in the 1920s with other expatriate writers is the basis for A Moveable Feast.

I haven't created a masterpiece like Hemingway yet, but five years ago, I was inspired in the same way.

The only difference is that instead of Havana, I was sitting 247 miles north of there in the Fort Lauderdale Airport. For the first time ever, I didn't mind the flight delay.

It gave me a chance to jot down everything that was racing through my mind after attending AWAI's annual FastTrack to Copywriting Success Bootcamp and Job Fair.

I attend Bootcamp every year because my only cost is airfare and a hotel room for a few days (more on that in a minute).

Every year, I get to hang out with sharp people, creative minds, and successful entrepreneurs. It always gives me a jolt of inspiration and some big ideas to put into action. It's as close as I'll come to Hemingway's circle of writing geniuses.

The problem is … it's only once a year for four days in October.

How do you stay inspired the other 361 days? How do you maintain momentum when you're working alone? And how do you keep moving forward and eventually make some big things happen?

Traveling like Hemingway inspires me, but I don't think that's the answer.

I love coming to Bootcamp every year, but that's not an absolute requirement either.

Here's the answer:

If you're going to make big things happen, it takes a big commitment.

Are you in?

For me, the first commitment was calling myself a writer.

The second commitment was deciding that somehow, some way, I was going to make a living as a writer.

Beyond that, well, I wasn't so confident.

It's hard to make it on your own. I knew I needed teachers, resources, and some kind of a plan. I needed a support system.

AWAI's Circle of Success program provided all that, so my third commitment was enrolling. It paid off in a big way, with an unexpected bonus: free Bootcamps for life.

I could go on all day about the benefits of joining Circle of Success and coming to Bootcamp, but the real payoff has been the abstract side effect. Simply put, associating with big-thinking people inspired big ideas of my own. Those big ideas put into action have created the freelance lifestyle I now enjoy.

For example …

The first AWAI Bootcamp I went to five years ago proved to me that the opportunity was real. You can read article after article about copywriting, but when you meet people who are actually doing it, you realize you can too.

Six months later, one of my Circle of Success instructors gave me a very positive copy critique. It gave me the confidence to go out and get my first client before I even finished the Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting.

Two years ago at Bootcamp, John Forde talked about the six lead types. But I was more intrigued by the fact that John lived in Paris. It hit me: you could be a copywriter and live anywhere you wanted. During the flight back to Wisconsin, I crafted a plan to test this idea.

Last year, I took more notes on Dan Kennedy's session than any other. It was a mini-Bootcamp in itself. Dan talked about building your own personal promotional platform, but one thing he said stood out above all: "Write a book."

From inspiration to action

Sounds simple, right?

Join Circle of Success, take advantage of the free Bootcamps for life, and associate with other high performers. Then soak up the good ideas, get excited, and get started.

There's a little more to it.

It's one thing to get inspired or "pumped up" by big ideas only to see the excitement wither when challenges arise. It's another to use the ideas as a catalyst to change your life.

My ideal lifestyle is slowly taking shape all because of ideas sparked by big thinkers at Bootcamp and through Circle of Success.

I'm happy to report that I've been a full-time copywriter for three years, I worked from Ecuador for a month last summer, and I'm in the process of writing a book.

It's all coming together now, but if you're anything like I was a few years ago, you may be on the fence about making a big commitment.

I had three concerns that you might be able to relate to:

1. "What if I'm not ready yet?"

There are two camps here. If you just recently discovered this idea of the writer's life, but you don't know what it entails, you probably aren't ready. I would suggest smaller steps before you consider Circle of Success.

On the other hand, if you've already started learning the craft and you're excited about becoming a writer, jumping in is sometimes the best way to go.

I've never felt completely "ready" and still don't sometimes. There are people who know more than I do and are further ahead in the business than I am. That's how you learn and get inspired to challenge yourself.

2. "Am I getting in too late? With all of these successful copywriters out there, is there room for one more?"

I seriously had this fear, and maybe you do too. The short answer is no, you're not getting in too late.

If anything, the demand for good copywriters keeps getting stronger. Regardless of the economy, businesses always need to grow. They need people who can help them craft their message to attract more buyers.

3. "Will it pay off?"

It's completely up to you. I can tell you that my commitment level to making something work is in direct proportion to the amount of time and money I've invested in it.

What I mean is that I participate in a lot of online classes, webinars, and one-day events. Looking back, the ones that were free or very low cost didn't seem to create any serious change in my business.

The few times in my life where I invested a significant amount, however, I took things seriously and got good results. I estimate it took me seven years to get a positive return on the time and money I spent on my college education. It took me less than 12 months to get a return on my Circle of Success membership.

Whatever path you decide to take to the writer's life, you'll get there quicker if you …

  • Get out of your normal surroundings. You don't have to go as far as Havana and Paris like Hemingway. Spend an afternoon in the woods or by a lake, brainstorming big ideas, thinking deep thoughts, and writing them down.
  • Get infected! If an idea grabs you and spreads through your blood and permeates your brain, you're probably onto something. When I first met people making a full-time living as a copywriter, I knew I had to pursue it. When I realized you could work from anywhere, I was hooked.
  • Make a commitment. There's never a perfect time to make a life change. You'll never be completely ready. But I know this: big commitments cause seismic shifts in thinking, the first step to getting results.

I look forward to toasting your success.

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Published: October 29, 2012

10 Responses to “On Hemingway, Inspiration, and Acting on Big Ideas ”

  1. Thanks for the article, Steve. I enjoyed it!

    I met a LOT of folks at Bootcamp 2012 who told me that they weren't "ready" initially. But they moved forward anyway. Action really is the key here...

    And another thing: I learned that copywriting isn't about being perfect or persuasion. It's about resonance. What you write and how you write it must be in harmony with the customer. When that happens, VOILA!!! So relax. Just do your best and let the rest take care of itself...

    RNin2013October 29, 2012 at 9:56 am

  2. Hello Steve!
    First I want to tell you that I have at the present time a highly secure and safe job. The problem is not here and is not in the 3 concerns you evoked. The biggest challenge is to make the leap. How to replace a 6-figure secure job (that I do not enjoy so much after all) to another job that at present is far to give me any amount of money. I'm not even prospecting because if I do and find more clients I don't know when I'll able to work for them! Bad equation... Any suggestion?

    Valerie LeroyerOctober 29, 2012 at 8:56 pm

  3. Hi Steve...great reading your Article. Love all the points. As a Homeschool Mom, I know commitments and investment of time and money into ones dreams are critical to their success. I've dreamed of being a writer...always said when I'm 40.Seems like my 40, has come a few years early:-) Like you made the decision to call yourself a writer...I recently made that shift in my mind. I do write alot in my profession now and came across AWAI at a turning point in my career. "Decided to be my own "INC" I also love that you made writing a family affair. If you read this comment, where would you say I start out? My first step? Thanks a Million!!

    RoseDallasOctober 30, 2012 at 9:12 am

  4. Hi Steve, thank you much for those pointers. Journals I write daily since childhood.(grew up in the beautiful Island of Jamaica...the Town of Oracabessa, where Ian Flemming lived) I was outsourcing my copywriting for Autoresponders and hired a Mentor to help me identify my Niche...and I think that was all the Law of Attraction working there....that somehow got me here. I do plan on coming on board with AWAI full force. (I started writing a collection of the points and the nuggets that resonated with me from the Articles and News I receive from AWAI) I read every word and Im going through the success stories as I do see me there!:-) Is there another way to reach you? Thank you, Rose

    RoseDallasOctober 30, 2012 at 4:53 pm

  5. Thanks Steve for your suggestions! And as always, very nice to read you in the Writer's Life or other articles! Good luck to you -)

    Guest (Valerie Leroyer)November 3, 2012 at 8:34 am


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