Why You Should Drop Preconceived Ideas About Your Ability to Write
I was touched to read the comments sparked by Gordon Graham’s series in The Writer’s Life earlier this month.
Gordon invited you to share your own writing dream, including the things you may hope to improve about your current situation.
I want to build on what he started and lay down a path meant to make achieving your dream as EASY as possible. Because over the years, I’ve noticed a few common struggles most of us face before we cross over to the other side (the paid side).
These are issues every writer confronts, whether you’re brand-new to writing or you’re established and looking for a change. And, sure, it’s easy to feel daunted by the mountain of knowledge you need to consume …
But, you know what? In most cases, your best bet is to push forward with barebones knowledge and a full heart.
This week, I’ll explain what I mean by that with five essential lessons for launching an actual, real-live, paid writing career … at hyper speed.
Let’s jump right in. Here’s today’s lesson: Forget everything you think you know about yourself as a writer.
As editor of Barefoot Writer Magazine, I hear from a lot of new writers. Many are talented or willing to work hard — or both — and I’m happy we publish so much from writers who are just starting out.
But there’s one trend I see from just about every writer who queries us or writes to ask advice or introduce themselves. They always include some version of the following in their emails:
“I’ve always been good at writing.”
“People always tell me I should be a writer.”
“I love to write.”
If you relate to any of those statements, you’re probably on the best career path ever for your particular talents and interests. But, if you don’t relate to those statements, that’s totally okay …
Because NONE of those things helps you earn money. Editors and clients aren’t interested in your past, or what people think of you, or what you love to do.
They’re interested in what you can do, right now, for them. In other words, they’re interested in action.
Don’t get me wrong — it’s nice to have the comfort of knowing other people admire your writing, or that you’re pretty sure you’ll enjoy it as a profession.
It’s also not a bad thing if you don’t have any of that. A paid writer’s life is equally attainable regardless of your writing background and previous accolades or lack thereof.
You know that scene from the movie, Jerry Maguire, where Cuba Gooding Jr. bee-bops around his kitchen and croons out his signature line? That line is, “Show me the money!”
I invite you to adopt an altered version: “Show me the action!”
Don’t focus on writing efforts from your past. Because today, right now, it doesn’t matter if you were the top contributor to your high school newspaper. It also doesn’t matter if you’ve never written anything significant in your life.
What matters is what you can do today, right now.
On that note, let’s wipe the slate clean. Think about what you can do today, right now, to sharpen your writing skills. Then, commit to it daily. Some ideas for habits that will improve your skills are:
- Free-write for a set amount of time
- Read 30 pages of writing by an admired author
- Hand-copy a piece of writing you admire, like a web page or a sales letter
- Write one poem a day
- Read one sales promotion every day (or white paper or e-newsletter — whatever type of project suits your interest)
- Read aloud for 20 minutes every day
Whether your writing background is strong or non-existent, it can always be improved. And the first, most important thing any writer can do to make the paid writer’s life a reality is to practice your craft constantly.
Now, please take a moment to “show me the action” … tell me what you plan to do right here, right now … to help make your dream a reality.
Tomorrow, I’ll be back to walk you through some simple techniques to help you choose a writing focus so you can start making money stat.
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Hi Mindy! I recently decided to grab a few great books, from my humongous collection, and lug them around with me everywhere...in the house, in the car. Of course I can't get to them all, but having them near allows/forces me to read, even if only a few pages at a time--more than I was doing before! It's perfect when I KNOW I'll have some wait time. And now, I purchase e-books whenever available: nothing like having access to scores of books on my tablet or phone.
Thank you for sharing. To start with, I have wiped my slate clean. I am completing the Accelerated Course right now, and taking no short cuts. Since starting a few weeks ago, I have started hunting for writing jobs instead of just those in my previous career field.I sent a promotional letter to an organization I am affiliated with as a sample of what I do. I know I have to remain positive, determined and practice every day in order to be successful.
Action Driven –
Hi Mindy. Great advice! This week I'm committed to the following:
1. Free-write for 10 minutes.
2. Copy a paragraph from a beloved book.
3. Take action on 5 things I can do to push my writing business forward.
Mary Vosika –
Dear Mindy, At 71 years of age, married for 35 yrs, 3 kids, 4 grandchildren retired and not really pressed financially I am content in life. I do however like to learn and explore other pursuits, while not in the best of health I do things that don't stress me out. Writing is a pleasure. Shortly after the prison school teacher told me God could change my life I became Editor of the Prison Newspaper. My first writing experience you might say. Years later I would marry the now former prison school teacher and life has been a whole lot better. It is a joy to be part of AWAI. Thank you.
Guest (Scotirish) –
Mindy, Thank you for this. I've been so focused on studying that I haven't been taking the time to write everyday. I know others have said it but something about your email today really made me "hear" it this time. I'm going to schedule writing time each evening to help me get ready for spec assignments at Bootcamp.
Didi K –
Hi Mindy I have just returned from an event in Atlanta by International Living, since I can not be at Boot Camp this time, but could make this.
While there I went to an excellent eatery. I noticed that the place was by no means full and asked the manager if he would like an article placed in Sky Magazine and/or the local papers and since he was so enthusiastic, I offered to come back the next day and take some photos,which I did and told him I would work on the market.no promises. Quite a task.
Guest (John) –
Thank you Mindy McHorse for your email this morning. To answer your question 'right here, right now'... I want and need to learn everything I possibly can about copywriting from the experts...In doing so, I have started my first course, became a part of AWAI, and now, taking part in the free webinars...as a matter of fact, this week, September 2nd, will be my second webinar with Rebecca Matter. Learn, learn, and then learn more about this new writing career I am embarking on. Thank you
Guest (Susan) –
Thank you for such a great article. Sometimes, with so much going on in our lives, it can be difficult to maintain the momentum. I am committed to finishing my restaurant letter this month and submitting it. That is where I have left off in the Copywriting course, and I went through so fast initially. I wanted to take the Web Copy 2.0 with Nick Usborne but I spent every last dime on the Accelerated Copywriting. I'm going to FOCUS, and get that done first!
Guest (Audrey) –
I choose poetry, because it comes so easily and forces you to be stingy with words. And, sales promotion, so I can learn how to do persuasive copy writing.
Thank you for this important article.
Guest (JR) –
What am I doing right now to become the best writer I can? I am paying close attention to what I am being taught by the teachers and mentors who bring this Accellerated Copy Writing course to me. I am doing all the exercises after reading all the lessons. I will take your advice. I will read every critique of my work and garner the most understanding I can as I correct my copy. I will do my due diligence and give each piece my best and most respectful work. I will learn what I can from everyone around me.
Guest (artistwife) –
I have joined MarketProfs to allow me to learn not just about my business but about other types of businesses. I think this will help me produce better copy. That is what I have done right now.
Guest (Amy) –
Very good article about 'what can you do for me now?' Mindy! As far as the steps to becoming a better writer I write frequently but not everyday. I have a story about the Doors Jim Morrison which has been copyrighted and I continue doing weekly in long hand fashion. I write poetry when I'm inspired; especially by members of the opposite sex. Right now that's happening. I read novels steadily by the likes of too many authors to be named here. Reading aloud? I haven't done that yet and that's next! Thanks for the ideas Joe
Guest (Joe Reto) –
Hi Mindy, Right here right now I'm going to make an effort to write everyday. I'm also going to find a better keyboard for my smartphone. The flow of writing is slowed tremendously since the keys are so small. Might be time to learn to use my dictation apps. Through the six figure copywriting course, I found copying the sales letters the best way to learn how to write.
Thank you for emphasizing that people are interested in what you can do now for them not what you have done in the past.
Thank you Mindy, for providing me with the kick in the pants as well as a road map. I have been putting the start of this new life I seek for far to long. I am looking forward to your next installment tomorrow.
Larry Whitmore –
Now is my opportunity to write. This past week-end I put up my business website following the webinar by Rebecca Matter on the Wealthy Web Writer Site. This was my official jump into being a free-lance writer. I've been blogging for several years but not on a business site and not to earn clients. But, as I will be publishing my second book in November and am investing much time and money in copywriting education, I knew it was time to make this investment. I know I'm on my way now to succeeding.
Guest (Skywalker Payne) –
Hi Mindy, Thank you for the post. I'm committing to:
- Free write for 15 minutes every day
- Read and copy sales letters
- Spend approximately 4 hours per day on my Accelerated Course - I'm on disability recovering from surgery, so I have the time.
Guest (Dena) –
Hi Mindy, Thank you for a terrific exercise in focus, especially at the beginning of the month.
ACTIONS (working on right now, this month, before Bootcamp in October):
1) I read great books everyday, for as long as I possibly can. I LOVE to read! (Disclosure: Lit Teacher)
2) Reading AWAI emails everyday.
3) Working on AWAI Spec Assignments for Bootcamp-- due Oct 1st. My goal is to submit at least one every week.
I have many things I want to write about. One is about bullying, kids books, e-guides, automotive projects, articles, and more.
I offered my e-zine experience to a club that my fiance is a part of - to vastly improve their monthly newsletter.
I'm excited to find my place in the writing world!
Guest (Sylvia) –
Do you want action? I can act however you'd like. I can even act like a writer. Is that what you need? You tell me, boss. Let's reason together. I can read, write, and talk a little; however, I don't get paid, imagine that. I can even imagine things, doe's that make me special? Doe's it make me a paid writer? I wish it did, believe it should, and know it can; however, it isn't. I am not ashamed to ask for help. Can you make me a believer? I believe in myself(my abilities),but I am having trouble believing you. Can I be blunt for a minute? Please forgive me before I even get started, but the SCAMS! Need I say more? I need someone to show me the ropes, help me get my feet wet, and give me a push. Push me please.
I plan on paying attention to those who have preceeded me and to follow their lead but to work with or in my fields of passion. And use what I have to really get attention of the world.
Guest (PamelaSchm) –
Hi Mindy. First, I am speeding up my progress through the Accelerated Copy Writing Course, which is becoming more exciting by the day. Then I am carrying with me a writing pad and pen to scribble thoughts about things I see and read, trying to keep them in tune with what I am learning on that great course. It's a lot of fun, with great anticipation about the end results.
I plan to write everyday. I will use your suggestions and get better every day.
Cheryl-No More Waiting –
Loved the article! It was just what I needed to hear today. I am re dedicating myself to finishing the 6 figure copy writing course with an additional 30 minutes of free writing everyday. I always fall into slumps where I doubt myself. But I know I can work my way out of them!!
Guest (Tatkinson) –
My goal and plan is to use my homework and studying to push past my fears and take advantage of all the help and suggestions to actually begin to make money. I'm working on six figures copywriting and web writing. It should-correction=WILL help me earn badly needed money for the first time in my life.
I began working on completing the APf6FC a week ago, I'm excited & ready to succeed. I'm so motivated I quit smoking to allow my brain & body to be free of toxins for more creativity. 1wkFree!!! My daily routine:
- Gene's 3333 goal - 15min free writing 1hr15min read© sales letters 2x daily
-Read Program & Do all exercises(started Pt 3)
-Practice researching & crafting my own sales letters
I'll finish in a week, but I'll rinse & repeat til I nail it.
I want the Writers Life!
I joined the Barefoot Writer's Club for $49. Here is my study plan (* marks what I've already read) Think Your Way to Success * The Secret Formula * Smart Start Copywriting * Secret of the 1 Hour Work Week * Lazy Writers Path...
Get Paid to Surf the Web *
500 Dollar Email Secret * The Easiest Way to Land Clients * Turn Your Pen into an ATM
12 Hottest Emerging Writing Trends
77 Profitable Niches
122 Amazing Perks
I'm taking notes/summarizing. Stage 2 starts when I finish 77...
Ok I will write one poem a day and read out loud for 20 minutes, or write free for a set amount of time. Thanks for coming back to help those of us who just keep hesitating.
Good reminder to keep writing. Next step? Time for another blog post!
Thanks for the great tips!
Guest (Sally Ferguson) –
Wow! I've always loved that movie, "Jerry McGuire" and yes, that was one of the most memorable lines. I believe I will take you up on that offer of "Show me the action!" So what I plan on doing is:
1. Read 30 pages of writing by my favorite author.
2. Read aloud for 20 minutes every day.
3. Hand copy a piece of writing I admire (a sales letter from the Hall of Fame).
Getting my writing career of the ground takes action. Thanks for the push!
Hi Mindy, First I want to say what an inspiration you are! I have been wanting to find a way to work for myself and be paid what I'm worth instead of what someone else decided I'm worth! Today, I commit to free writing for 30 minutes a day, which I can easily do while I have coffee. Free writing is enjoyable... just letting thoughts flow! Thank you very much for your support and encouragement!
Guest (Melissa) –
I commit to writing for a set amount of time (To be determined) and reading it out loud for a week.
Guest (Ruth) –
I've been reviewing your email in reference to writing. I would like more elaboration on this topic upon reviewing practice writing everyday.
Guest (AlfreidaC) –
I'm doing courses also but i'm so ready to start writing. I've been writing for at least 15years or more not getting paid.
Guest (Dorothy Tyler) –
Greetings of Success to you Mindy and everyone else who on this wonderful path to a better lifestyle. Mindy I chose email newsletters. Seems easy enough but my prob would be getting readers, well that is not entirely true. I found out where people hangout. To my surprise it is Pinterest. I am in love with it and I will try my best to use it to further my following of like minded writers, etc. Thanks much for the advise.
Aunti Vi –
Per Mindy McHorse's GREAT advice, I'm hereafter going to invoke Newton's 3rd Law whence "showing me the action" completes my otherwise felled-trees-in-an-empty-woods' unheard reaction. A day-to-day reaction to what my "barebones knowledge and a full heart" routinely yearn. To be deservedly heard. But not without making the effort lest the woods remain empty. Otherwise aspirations unprovoked are more than likely mired in the stayed dormancy of opportunity never sought.
Guest (Chris Morris) –
Thank you for the article. I have written the first of a series of books about Rosie, my very able cat who just happens to live with a disability. I am committed to send the manuscript out to at least 5 publishers a week that will accept unsolicited submissions. I am also re-reading the catalog copywriting course and doing the practice assignments in it again. I have purchased "Catalog Copy That Sizzles by Herschell Gordon Lewis and will read some of it every day. I will start going through all the catalogs I have collected and decide who I would like to write for.
Hi Mindy I chose:-wanderingjohn dot co as my domain name, really because it suits my travel aspect.
Bet you found a good one.
Guest (John) –
Guest (matt) –
I would enjoy taking a class except I'm on a limited income. YOU WALK PRETTY by LeAnne Nelson Dahl published in 2005 by Publish America (no longerin business, thank God). It's my life's story in poetry.
Now,I'd like do a 2nd add on piece in pros. This will be concerning my work experiences.
You see, I have lived with cerebral palsy since birth.
I NEED to KNOW IF it ii is worth pursuing.
Guest (LeAnne Dahl) –
Hi Mindy, I am focusing on my blog but need a new domain name. I want to free write each day and get enough blog posts for the next month or two so I don't kill myself waiting until the last minute. I also read each day and am about half way through Josh Turner's 'Connect' right now. Good luch all!
Sandra Knight –
Hello Mindy,Thank you for the advice. Your suggestions for 'Show me the Action' are a great example, I have been attempting to do many of these already. Here is my modified version. 1) Free-write 500 words/day. 2)Read 30 pages about an admired topic or subject. 3)Hand-copy a piece each day. 4)My camera is my poetry - take+edit 10 shots/day-upload them to my website (I have a site). 5) Read aloud for 20 minutes each day-combined with #2. Thank you for these great directions. Pete.
I am excited to be on this new path while finishing up on an old one heading for retirement early if I can succeed at this. Just really getting into the Acc course and find it fun! Trying to take one step at a time since my time is limited at the moment.looking to buy a laptop for this work, anybody have a good suggestion that not way pricey?
I am going to:
1) Free write/journal
2) Spend 20 minutes reading/writing an AWAI Hall of Fame letter
I read daily, and my grandchildren and I enjoying making up rhymes while driving in the car, so I want to write a bit of poetry. I plan to read more sales papers and spend 15 minutes daily with free-writing. Thanks for the input!
Hi Mindy It is 2AM in Nigeria now. First thing this morning, I will start writing the first daily poem, do every reading I could, hand copy a web page. And se where that will lead me to.Thank you for prompting the zeal in me.
Guest (Dave Barbee) –
This could be the push I need. Let me rephrase that. This is the push I need. So thanks for your time, experience and expertise, Bonnie
Guest (Bonnie) –
Thank You for the reminder! I know I need to be writing everyday but have found it hard to fit in with my present responsibilities. Today, I will start writing everyday for at least half an hour. I also am dedicated to completing the Accelerated Course and begining my Writer's Life. My family and I deserve it!
Guest (Tara) –
Hello! Mindy,I am already a reader of your "Copywriter" business opportunity. I will make sure to become a member one day soon. I'm a "greenhorn" in this area. But I believe that you guys at AWAI are real professional who could make a beginner into a seasoned copywriter. Thanks to your persuation.
Guest (Tina Barrizo) –
Greetings, Mindy, I spent the $45 for the newsletter. I came in with the hope that I could do this, but that hope didn't include an abundance of confidence. My wife and I are retired and don't have a great excess to spend at this time so I am not going for the full experience. However, I really love the things you write and do appreciate how you nail things down so neatly. I love poetry--I'll try the poem a day and the reading. Maybe 10 mins daily reading aloud. Twenty--way too long.
Guest (Keith) –
Hi, Mindy. I have just finished the Accelerated Copywriting Course and the Research Course. I am currently working on the B2B Performance Course. I want to create a clear path for the Circle of Success in November/January.
I do all of the suggested steps on a daily basis except write a poem.
That is how a friend of mine and I used to get through a dull day. We would leave an object on each others desk in the morning and we wrote a poem using the object every day. It made for a lot of laughs but I never thought of it as a learning experience.
I will add it to my daily routine. Thank you.
Hey Mindy- I love the read aloud tip, so I will adopt that one, as I already read quite a bit everyday! :)