At 4:25PM on a hot Friday in Manhattan, I raced along West 33rd Street.
My train was going to leave Grand Central Station in 14 minutes. With or without me.
I slowed down so I wouldn’t tackle some café-goers enjoying happy hour. Then I checked my phone and saw Grand Central was almost a mile away.
Run a mile in 14 minutes? Doable… unless it includes ducking and dodging through Manhattan crowds while wearing a heavy backpack. I wondered if I should keep pumping along or give up.
Did I make it? Well, I’m writing this while relaxing in a Business Class seat as my train slowly lurches out of Grand Central. In full disclosure, it’s 6:39PM. I gave up and caught a later train.
I mention all this drama for a reason—and it’s not just to get your attention. This has everything to do with making six-figures per year, or more, as a copywriter.
If you want to prosper as a copywriter and maintain some sort of a life, you need a writing strategy. This strategy needs to maximize your productivity, writing quality, and income.
Many people complain they don’t have time to write copy. In a moment, I’ll share my secret to starting every day with million-dollar copy already written. Then I’ll reveal why I started this article with an embarrassing travel mishap. You probably won’t be able to guess the true reason.
Let’s get to it. Every morning, my alarm jingles at 8:00. I meditate, take a freezing-cold shower, and plop down at my desk to write. My laptop has been waiting for me all night.
I place my smartphone to the left of my computer and open the timer app. It’s already programmed to 33 minutes and 33 seconds. I open the Word document for whatever project I’m working on. Then I push the Start button on my timer app and begin writing.
When the timer goes off, I stand up for a short break to get some coffee, and then saunter back to my desk for another 33-minute-and-33-second round of writing.
When the timer rings for a second time, I finally start my day. I take my phone off Airplane Mode and plug in my cable modem.
That’s right. The night before, I had yanked out the cord. The whole time, my modem was unplugged from the wall socket and my phone was incapable of making or taking calls. If someone wanted to distract me, they would have had to knock on my door or set off the fire alarm.
That’s how I start my day with million-dollar copy already written. Until the first two rounds of writing are done, I don’t consider my day started.
Of course, my daily writing isn’t necessarily complete. But this ritual sets the tone for the day and gives me a little accomplishment to bask in.
You probably can’t mimic this routine exactly, but you can harness the principles I used to form it:
- Ideally, write in the morning so you can conquer the task first and celebrate later.
- If you’re not a morning person, then write when you are most mentally energized.
- Do not simply block out distractions. It’s nice to nix your email tab, but it’s better to make Internet access impossible.
- Block out distracting people. If you live alone, that’s easy. If you’re in a relationship, ask your partner to help you remain distraction-free. If he or she won’t help, then you’ve got problems beyond what this article can fix.
- Give yourself a set time for your writing. It prevents you from unconsciously drifting to other tasks.
- If you’re making the leap from a day job to copywriting, use this morning routine before work. Follow Craig Ballantyne’s advice so you can get up at a peak-of-productivity hour.
These tactics will help you churn out pages. But they’re not the foundation of succeeding as a writer. For that, let’s return to my train story.
Even while traveling through Manhattan, I sat down for three writing sessions. The first two were at coffee shops. The third was aboard the train, when I began writing this piece.
As I write this paragraph, I’m on yet another train. My original seat didn’t have a tray for my laptop, so I moved and began writing as soon as I sat down. Why am I mentioning this? Because these details reveal the most important secret to succeed as a writer. Here’s the hard, stark truth:
If you decide to write as a professional, then you must never let frustrations, setbacks, or inconvenience defeat you.
Blocking out distractions will strengthen your focus. Setting a timer will enhance your productivity. Practice will refine your skill. But these are all window dressings. The real foundation is your unwavering intention to write, come hell or high water.
Some copywriters have morning routines. Others have afternoon or evening writing time. Some do the 40-hour work week thing. I don’t know anyone successful who does the “4-hour work week” thing. But we’re all relentless. When you combine this drive with a healthy writing strategy and enough skill, you’ll produce million-dollar copywriting magic.