How to Gain the Competitive Edge that Brings The Writer's Life Faster

Will Newman

If you truly want to be successful — if you want to gain the competitive edge and achieve the writer's life you desire — there’s one strategy you must embrace.

Never stop learning.

You see this strategy in play all the time in sports, the arts, and our daily lives.

My favorite example is (to my mind) the greatest NFL player of all time — Jerry Rice.

When he joined the San Francisco 49ers from Mississippi Valley State, Rice was heralded as the best receiver picked up in the 1985 college draft.

His first year …

 … a disaster!

Jerry Rice didn't let that stop him. He knew if he wanted to perform at the Pro level, he had to learn. And keep on learning.

Because of that attitude, he quickly developed into the most productive wide receiver in NFL history.

Part of his success: he practiced three hours every day after his teammates had left the field. He consulted with coaches. He constantly studied game plans.

Jerry Rice's strategy of always learning gave him the competitive edge.

Stephen Curry, star of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, provides another great sports example.

Certainly, in his free time, Curry plays a lot of basketball. But he also spends a tremendous amount of time — more than most of his cohorts — working with a coach who continually teaches him how to improve his game.

And now, I'm going to do something I'm not comfortable doing.

I'm going to “toot my own horn.”

When I started teaching severely disabled students, the field really was brand-new. There weren't any textbooks to learn from. But I was fortunate in having some college professors who were at the top of their field.

I listened. I learned. And I went on to accept my first … and only job … in Special Ed.

Because the field was so new, I’d learned ideas many other teachers in the field didn't have. I could've rested on my laurels.

But that wasn't good enough for my students. I knew if they were to learn to the best of their ability, I had to learn to the best of mine.

Fast-forward several years. By embracing lifelong learning like this, I — along with three of my cohorts in San Mateo County — became model classrooms for the state of California in teaching severely disabled children.

It might just be a quirk of my personality that I want to continue learning all the time. But I think, in fact, what's really happened is this.

By embracing lifelong learning, I discovered its huge benefits.

I like to think I’ve brought the same enthusiasm for lifelong learning to my copywriting career and pursuit of the writer’s life.

I've told the story that when I began there weren't many resources to learn. (Sounds familiar; doesn't it?)

But I found AWAI. And man alive, did that make a difference in my career. Learning from AWAI made all the difference in the world for me.

I hope I didn't stop there.

My personal need is to keep learning. Keep getting better. Keep understanding the secrets and strategies of the truly great copywriters who wrote before me and who are writing now.

My personal need is to gain the competitive edge as much as I can by continually learning.

My bottom line for you here is this: It's the same advice I give to the young people I tutor in our elementary school.

Never, ever, stop learning.

Keep on learning and you gain the competitive edge.

Keep on learning and you’ll build your writer’s life.

Stop learning, and …

Well, I know you get it.

I’d love to learn about your passions for learning. Tell us by commenting below.

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Published: March 17, 2017

11 Responses to “How to Gain the Competitive Edge that Brings The Writer's Life Faster”

  1. Will in my estimation the greatest endowment from our creator is: The ability to learn to accomplish anything you so desire followed, by the opportunity to put said accomplishment to good use .

    Guest (Perplexed)

  2. Will, I fully comprehend your message. At my age (higher than your own) I'm still learning, too.
    In the process (of running my own company for 40 years), I've published in 1998 a 400 page book that's had good (but limited reviews). I believe that, updated and serialized in Newsletters, it has another future ... but I don't have the time, knowledge (or resources) to get that underway.
    Could you direct me to a means (or AWAI group)that would help facilitate?
    Thank you,

    Joe Boyd, Napa Valley
    [FROM WILL: Hello Joe. I don't have a good enough understanding of your situation to be able to make any specific recommendations. I advise you to call AWAI Member Services at (561) 278-5557. Good luck.]

    Guest (Joe Boyd)

  3. Will, I totally agree with you about the need to continue learning and that AWAI offers many excellent opportunities to do that. I have also learned that continued learning gives me a reason for getting up in the morning and enthusiasm for living that I did not have before.


  4. Right on, Will, this is a solid article. I'm fully in agreement -- I want to stay mentally young and sharp as long as possible, and lifelong learning can help achieve that. Plus, it's fun!

    Guest (Jim Mahannah)

  5. I love Will Newman's recent post, and it hit home with me. Having been forced to retired 2 years ago, I thought learning was finished for me. Dealing with chronic pain, one learns just to survive day by day. Finding a new treatment allowed me a new lease on life. Now I am investing back into myself through AWAI, finally publishing some writing, taking courses, working at basic self improvement. I've realized state of mind is everything. We stop learning, we stop moving. My passion is survival!

    Guest (Daphne McFee)

  6. Hi Will learning is what everybody needs,learning something is what everybody likes,when I learn something it's fill goods.


  7. Yes, Will, one is never too old to learn! I agree wholeheartedly!.

    Guest (H James Hulton III)

  8. Dear Will, I have enjoyed reading your emails for some time, but this one really spoke to my heart. I work in the field of special education. It is my first professional love in life. I now desire to also have the writer's life. Thank you for this inspiration to get going on my path of learning and accomplishing the goal of reaching out in a new direction!

    In gratitude, Bonnie

    Guest (Bonnie C)

  9. On life long learning that is how i actually discovered AWAI. now that i have found AWAI there is is no going back. there lots and lots of learning to be done and i tell the opportunities are huge.i will not stop learning.


  10. Thanks Will. I've begun to retool and reshape my passion for writing...seeking to refine and redefine that critical niche. Your article is a great encouragement. Yes, we must all continue to learn from others."What do you have that you have not received." quipped the apostle Paul."The man who asks questions is never wrong." (Bambara proverb) Thank you, my friend.

    Peter Colman

    [FROM WILL: Hello again Peter. Have you had the opprtunity to contact Member Services about getting in touch with me personally?]

    Guest (Peter Colman)

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