Match Rockets, Pencil Lead, Light Bulbs, and Copywriting Success

Inspiration comes in all shapes and sizes. If you’re wise, you let it appear naturally, and follow it when it offers itself to you.

Here’s what I mean. I just got back home from volunteering in my local middle-school science class. The students in this class were my inspiration for this week’s Golden Thread. They’re also a continuing source of inspiration for me as a copywriter.

I venture to say, if you knew them, they would inspire you as well.

“But I’m a copywriter,” you might be thinking. “What on earth could I learn from a bunch of 12- to 15-year olds?

Let me give a little background first. I live in a rural community where 88% of the students qualify for free or reduced breakfasts and lunches. We are rural. The nearest ‘big city’ is an hour south and has a population of 80,000. Most of the kids haven’t ridden in an airplane. Many haven’t even ridden in an elevator.

These children face tremendous challenges in their everyday lives, including poverty, hunger, drug-addicted parents, and homelessness. And they face them with grace.

It’s not about how hard it can be …

But that’s not what inspired me today.

Today was the student’s final day for completing their Science Fair projects. So what did inspire me was the persistence and determination these students have shown over the past two weeks working on their projects.

Take Amy, for instance. She’s trying to separate different types of black pen ink into component colors using crude paper chromatography. Today was the fourth time she’s tried this experiment with only marginal success. But she performed one more trial, knowing it meant she’d have to get to school early in the morning to analyze the data, type it up, and put it on her display board before the Science Fair at 8:45.

Or there’s Lucas and Austin. They’ve been building ‘match rockets.’ (Don’t worry; they have supervision.) Their success rate? Out of 25 trials, they had three successes. If they had time today, they would have tried a few more.

Twelve percent success rate? Could you have shown that much determination? What about when it comes to seeking clients, could you keep coming back like this 12 and 13-year old did?

The path to success reflected in a young person’s spirit …

Certainly, some of the students were more successful than others. But every single one of the projects didn’t work right off the bat. The students had to redesign … and revise … and do it all over again.

Isn’t this what a successful copywriter does? We write knowing that our first draft will never be perfect. But we write that draft anyway, knowing that we’ll have to redesign … revise … and do it all over again.

We know we’ll have to do it. But we don’t always have the determination to follow the difficult path like Anthony did with his ‘barking bottle’ experiment or Kata with her pencil lead light bulbs.

I wish I could have had you beside me over the past two weeks to watch these young scientists, these inspirations for all of us. In spite of huge obstacles in their lives, they do not give up. Every single one of us could learn the single most important lesson about success there is to learn.

Never ever give up.

I love these kids. More important, I respect them. And I thank them for inspiring this Golden Thread … and for inspiring me on a daily basis.

I’d love to hear who provides you with inspiration. Post a message in the comments below and let me know.

Until next week, keep writing!

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Published: June 3, 2013

7 Responses to “Match Rockets, Pencil Lead, Light Bulbs, and Copywriting Success”

  1. I have been an educator for over 20 years, and recently, I have become dispassionate about my effectiveness in the classroom. It helps to read posts like this to help me remember why I went into this field of work in the first place. Thanks for the "inspiration". I work in a middle school where 70% of the students receive free or reduced pricing on meals (breakfast and lunch). Some days you wonder if they come to school just to eat.

    Diana BusbyJune 3, 2013 at 8:48 am

  2. Hi Will and AWAI staff;

    I just wanted to thank Will for his timely article. It gives me some "kick in the pants" motivation for keeping going.

    Although I couldn't enter AWAI's Circle of Success recently for personal reasons, I'm not easily giving up on my dream of going full-time copywriting... even despite a pending divorce.

    Nonetheless, thank you Will and AWAI for giving me "a second livelihood" and I can permanently leave behind (low-paying) logistics and supply and 'divorce myself' from the employee ranks.

    I look forward to a bright future, getting remarried to a business-minded woman...


    One thing I've never had...... Ahem!

    Very Respectfully, John Kidd

    thecuriouswriterJune 3, 2013 at 10:15 am

  3. You're my inspiration today, Will. I read so many blog posts, I've become a bit jaded. But even after 20+ years as a copywriter, this one struck a chord, because all our work is about trying. This also reminded me of a Mark Twain quote: "Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words." Of course, you have to write the "wrong" words to begin with! Thanks for a touching story.

    Guest (Diana Kightlinger)June 3, 2013 at 11:08 am

  4. You asked us to share our inspirations:

    Disheartened, my CW aspiration & success was substantially calmed as life for me took an unexpected twist, my mother's care & 25 yr. business needed me. This gave me a new perspective to life; life's wants are sometimes not as urgent as once thought. Excuses? NO! Rather, inspiration/fodder for the future to be held is in fact driven with the delay.

    As a result, I learned to embrace & glean the timing. My ember still glows.
    Thank You for letting us share.

    Guest (M M Mordoff)June 3, 2013 at 11:46 am

  5. Hi Will, loved your piece. 24 years ago I adopted my first drug addicted baby, Jon. 4 years later it was heroin addicted James followed by drug-addicted Nicholas.
    Today they're all working hard, following their dreams and ambitions. Occasionally they have bumps in the road but I'm so inspired by each one of them. I can't imagine starting life like they did fighting a battle like addiction.

    The kids we work with and know today truly are our hope for the future, keep up the good work. You never know who'll be the next success story.

    Guest (KayB)June 3, 2013 at 3:34 pm

  6. Awesome article, Mr Newman.

    You managed to make me feel almost as proud of those kids as you do.

    FYI, I ALWAYS read your articles. (The only ones from AWAI I always open.) I don't know what the conversion rate is like when you write an email dedicated to selling a product or service, but the writing is never anywhere near as compelling as when you "teach". Keep up the good work.

    Guest (Aaron)June 3, 2013 at 11:29 pm

  7. Thank you...I needed this gentle push today.

    DeadlyDJune 4, 2013 at 4:49 pm

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