Hardcore means “uncompromising.” “Dedicated.”
That makes the following advice crucial for any copywriter who wants to succeed. Even if “write yourself silly” sounds a little goofy.
Let’s set the stage.
How Did We Get Here?
New writers suffer from a problem. It’s a fear of getting what they are writing wrong. Ever had that feeling? I have. Here’s how to kill it once and for all.
This fear is like someone is leaning over my shoulder as I write, evaluating every paragraph, sentence and word. It’s like I’ve been transported back to a high school English classroom and the teacher wants a five-page essay in one hour.
Or maybe you imagine yourself in the Florida Keys, pounding away on a typewriter in an open-air office, Hemingway hovering in the background…with his BS detector on.
That dreaded BS detector.
As you can imagine, hardly the situation to get your great ideas on your blog.
So how do we fix that? Thought you’d never ask.
Writing Yourself Silly Isn’t Silly
In my time as a writer, teacher and editor, I’ve seen the product such pressure puts on people. Short, hard-to-define essays, blog posts or articles bound by a straight jacket.
These are hardly products you want to share with the world.
After I’m done reading the article or post I’m thinking, “Let’s let this guy loose.” And then I go and tell the writer, “I need more from you. A lot more. I need you to sit down, forget about me, the world and shut that inner critic the hell up. Then I need you to write. I need you to write yourself silly.”
Writing yourself silly is nothing more than a brief but intense period of writing everything down inside your head about a particular topic.
It’s about shoving aside every objection and letting yourself go. For an hour. Two hours. For however long it takes to get ALL of your ideas down on paper.
Won’t It Be Crap?
Yes, it will be crap. That’s why they call it a rough draft. It’s ROUGH.
It might even be a wandering, dirty, illiterate fit of 2,500 words that would even embarrass Charlie Kaufman. But who cares? It’s out of your head and on your screen.
Now you’ve got something to work with.
Listen: It’s much better to edit down 2,500 words to one page in ten tries than it is to agonize over a finished, perfected product from the ground up.
Think of it this way: you are a sculptor who carves a block of marble into a statue. Your rough draft is your block of marble. And you get that rough draft when you let yourself go and just write.
That’s the beauty of writing yourself silly.
And once you’ve got your rough draft out, then you can edit like a ruthless beast. Then you can turn Hemingway’s BS detector back on and earn your money.
But not any sooner.