What a 16-Year-Old Can Teach You about Success

Will Newman

Welcome back to The Writer's Life.

During this week, you’ve had the opportunity to visit with copywriters in different stages of their success journey. In visiting them, you’ve been able to see how they’ve relied on a few basic foundations for their success. (Click here, here, here, and here if you missed any of our visits.)

Today, though, I’m introducing you to a young man Linda and I call our chosen Grandson, Daniel. I’m using Daniel — who recently turned 16 — to show you what I feel is the #1 secret behind copywriting success. Indeed, behind all success.

Small for his age, but too big to let it stop him …

During much of the time I’ve known him, Daniel was small and wiry for his age. Even so, he doesn’t shy away from physical challenges.

Daniel was the smallest player on his high school football team, indeed the smallest on all the teams our high school faced. He didn’t play much until his junior year. But when he did play, he played with abandon.

Midway through his freshman football season, the high school wrestling coach spoke with Daniel to convince him to join the wrestling team instead of the basketball team. Robert guaranteed Daniel if he joined the wrestling team, he’d wrestle every meet.

Robert and Daniel both knew that if Daniel joined the basketball team, which had been his intention, he would’ve ridden the bench.

So Daniel tried something he’d never done before. Wrestling. He was, as you might expect, the smallest member of the team. His wrestling partner was a senior and an outstanding wrestler.

It may not seem like it, but Daniel did what you’re doing in plotting your future as a copywriter. You’re both taking on new challenges to make your life more interesting … and more successful.

Three meets … and not one win

Let me explain this comparison before I get to that #1 success secret.

Daniel wrestled his first three meets without a win. This meant nine straight losses. How would you respond if you’d been turned down nine times by prospective clients?

Daniel didn’t let this get the better of him. Then, on a gray overcast afternoon in Oregon, Daniel got his first victory. He racked up three more victories before the end of the season, including one by a pin.

This is the number one secret to copywriting success.

Daniel kept practicing every day in spite of being discouraged at times. This is why he succeeded in the end.


You cannot be a successful copywriter if you don’t practice. For Daniel, practice meant wrestling against his teammates every day. For you, the soon-to-be-successful copywriter, practice means writing every single day.

It doesn’t matter how many books you read. It doesn’t matter how many AWAI programs you study. It doesn’t even matter if you join Circle of Success.

All positive actions — yet, you will not be a successful copywriter if you don’t write.

Write something every day. Seven days a week. At least 250 words. Make it something that’ll have the biggest impact possible on your career.

But what can you write if you don’t have any “real clients” yet?

Embrace a world of possibilities …

Copywriting is persuasion. Make your daily writing persuasive writing. Find something you’re passionate about and persuade someone else to see your point of view.

Write your local newspaper and convince readers why they should support the cause you believe in.

Write testimonial letters for products you’ve tried and have been wowed by. Or, write to a company about one that disappointed you.

Did you see a movie you loved — or hated? Write an in-depth review.

Once you’ve finished your written exercises, don’t send them off … yet. Let them sit for a few days. Then, go back, and during one of your daily writing sessions, don’t write. Rewrite. Look at one of your pieces with a critical eye. Polish it. Then send it off.

Afraid you’ll run out of ideas? Carry paper and pen with you everywhere. (You’re a writer now. Never be without your tools.) When something interesting, or compelling, or disturbing strikes you, jot it down. Then use it as fodder for your daily writing.

No matter how you do it, practice your writing every day.

The more Daniel practiced, the more natural his moves became. He gained more confidence in his developing abilities.

The more you write, the easier writing becomes. You gain more confidence. And soon, you’re living the writer’s life.

Thank you for being with us this week. I’d love to hear what you think about Daniel and his success lesson … or about anything you’d like to share. Tell us by commenting below.

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Published: May 6, 2016

15 Responses to “What a 16-Year-Old Can Teach You about Success”

  1. I find the emails I receive from Awai to be very useful and insightful if you will. They have become my "go to guides". Thank you and God Bless

    Guest (Sheila Rosario)

  2. Hi Will, I wanted to tell you how each and every day, I look forward to your email. I have even saved a few that really speak to me.
    Many days, I feel put upon by all of the sales pitches by AWAI Mail. It has gotten to the point of deleting them without opening.
    I am tired of having things shoved down my throat, since I've already invested more than I can actually afford in this "new direction".
    I just wish their email system separated the members by purchases and the string of emails reflected that.
    But YOU, you seem to give of yourself without an additional price tag. Thank you for that.

    [FROM WILL: I understand your frustration at receiving many emails from AWAI. But they are a very effective marketing organization, and they are also a good example for others of how to market. My recommendation is to learn as it seems you've done scanning techniques and pick out only the emails that interest you. But many of the ones you pass by could be good examples of marketing

    Miz G

  3. Great analogy, Will, and a great story. Daniel will be a success - in wrestling and in life, because he has learned to persevere. His success will be yours and Linda's also, because you have helped and encouraged him along the way. To me, that is the greatest success we can have. We all need cheerleaders! Thank you for being that for Daniel and for all of us who read your articles!

    Guest (Rosie Brock)

  4. Will Newman, You have just taken Me to a Deeper Understanding of what I need to know about "COPY WRITTING". It's Highly Inspiring. Thanks for giving out the story of 16 year old boy it has propel, compeling me to be up nd doing. Writting 250 words a day is a Must for Me in other for Me to become on an Aspiring COPY WRITTER Expert ! You are Blessed. Remain at the Top ever.. Hoping 2 Read nd Learn More from You. Brgds, Fashagba Olukayode.

    Guest (Fashagba Olukayode)

  5. Shalom!Thanks for all those inspired pieces. Today's piece really hit home, and I will now take the plunge.I am inspired! Thanks again. Neville

    Guest (Neville Woolery)

  6. Exactly, Will Newman, the example of Daniel represented our life style.
    We begin always from zero ground or weak standard to builds a strong basement.
    This base maybe the turning point according to ambition of training writer .

    Guest (Magey thow )

  7. Thanks Will,your "practice' message clicks with me. Pen and paper is the more tangible and palpable medium currently in my repertoire. Perhaps devices such as tablets, voice recorder, video camera can assist in the future development of this daily 'journaling' endeavor.
    Getting and losing ideas and threads of notions is like walking around with holes in your pockets, and being left scratching your head with nothing to show for at day's end.
    Attaining by training is a surefooted strategy.

    Lil Acorn

  8. Will I have enjoyed your company each day and the advice and wisdom you give us you fellow writers.
    Daniels story is a great example for me. I was the kid growing up that was the one who was picked on and blamed for team failure even though I mainly rode the bench. I never quit trying, I never quit believing in myself. This helped me find my way in life. No once again it bolsters me up to become a successful writer. Thank you

    Guest (Ralph)

  9. This article couldn't have come at a better time! I'm just breaking into to travel writing. I've read, am doing the travel writers program, as well as the travel writers internship. All great stuff that I've worked diligently with...now...the first article needs to be written!

    This story has given me the needed motivation.


  10. Thank you! I knew I should be writing each day, but wasn't sure what I should be writing about. So I've just let things flow mostly about my thoughts on my life or observations, something I've read or heard. I think now I need to be more focused so my practice benefits my professional writing.

    Guest (Denise)

  11. I want to be a copywriter! I am desperately seeking this, feeling it is finally, the occupation I've always wanted to have when I grew up. I was a successful business letter writer for a large hotel chain, mostly answering complaints and this is where I learned my skill, always graceful and conversational ... but I had burn out after 8 years, left it behind and now .... it's shining right at me! I say I'm desperate because I am retired, low income, no funds for anything but bare necessities ....

    Guest (Linda Jennings)

  12. Will, you did it again...inspired me to write. I enjoy your articles so much I have a separate file for them on my email.

    Thank you for taking the time to encourage, enlighten, and inspire us fledglings.

    Someday I hope to write like you do.

    Clara Mae

  13. This is the most practical idea / suggestion I have received since i have joined AWAI. I am seriously starting to implement this by writing a blog daily. Then as Will suggests I will write critical / appreciation letters or mails to companies or publications about products issues that strike me. This will be step one for me.


  14. Hi Will, My take away is practicing persuasive writing.

    I don't have a niche, so what might I write about?

    I like the subject of personal development, and do read some. How might I proceed to write on a topic with some clarity and confidence?



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