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Worried that you’re scaring away potential customers with long, boring sales copy? You’re not alone. We surveyed over 20,000 people about their writing habits and 33% struggle with being too wordy and long-winded. Use these three copywriting exercises below to write stronger, more concise copy — in half the time.
Copywriting Exercise #1: Write A Shitty First Draft That’s Waaaay Too Long.
I know, I know. You want it to be short and powerful right off the bat, but that’s not how writing works. If you want to become a better copywriter, practice getting all your ideas down first. Best-selling author, Anne Lamott, calls this your “shitty first draft,” because that’s exactly what your first attempt is — shitty. The first step in the writing process is to get it out on the page, not get it perfect.
Key point: Just write, don’t edit.
Why? Because writing and editing are two different functions. Doing both at the same time will only slow you down. Write the shitty first draft and trust that the copywriting magic happens when you spend time editing and polishing.
Don’t believe me? Here are some examples:
- The Continental Congress made 86 changes to Thomas Jefferson’s first draft of The Declaration of Independence.
- Ernest Hemingway wrote 47 endings to A Farewell To Arms.
- Marion Roach Smith submitted her essay Spam Chop Suey to NPR after draft 45!
Copywriting Exercise #2: Write It Rude.
Politeness leads to long-windedness. If you’re trying too hard to make everyone like you, your writing will suffer. You’ll add all kinds of unnecessary parentheticals and word softeners to your message, which will make it bland and forgettable.
Writing it rude will help you write more
effective sales copy, faster and clearer.
These iconic ads are the perfect example of writing it rude:
- Got Milk? — They didn’t say, “Excuse me, I hate to bother you, but I’m just wondering whether you have some milk?” No! They kept it short and sweet.
- Just Do It. — Nike didn’t write, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you did it?” Or, “We strongly suggest that at your earliest convenience, you do it.” Instead, they wrote. “Just Do It,” and the rest is history.
To be clear, writing it rude doesn’t mean keeping it rude. Use this copywriting exercise to zoom past your inner critic and say what you want to say, without a filter.
Copywriting Exercise #3: Trim the Fat.
Once you have a shitty first draft that contains the essence of what you want to say, it’s time to edit. Cut as many words from your copy as you can without losing the meaning. Be ruthless. Lose every unnecessary word, adverb, and cliche.
Here’s a quick editing trick: use your document’s find and replace tool to cut common “filler words” like the following:
- You can
Want to see some copy editing in action? Here’s an example from our flagship copywriting program, The Copy Cure.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Marie Forleo, author of New York Times bestseller, 'Everything is Figureoutable', is an American life coach, motivational speaker, author and web television host of Marie TV. Named as a thought leader for the next generation by Oprah, Marie is also the owner of Marie Forleo International, B-School and MarieTV.
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