Last week this blog discussed the use of narrative and descriptive paragraphing to promote nutritional supplements. The point to be made is that the power to persuade is of singular importance in most writing. It is the one standout quality of all successful copy writing. Successful copy writing must:
Start with a compelling idea.
Clearly state the idea.
Be specific in the writing.
These admonitions undoubtedly apply to all writing.
I’m reminded of Thomas Paine’s little booklet, “Common sense,” which he published in early 1776. It argued for separation of the American colonies from the British Crown because it made good sense to do so. It became a runaway best seller, selling 100,000 copies in a short period of time, and was a strong part of the emotional run-up to the American Revolution.
Persuasive writing is a product of confidence in writing. Confidence only comes from continued practice of writing coupled with extensive reading. The two go hand-in-glove.
You must develop a belief in the strength of your writing to be good at it. Belief is the core factor.
Where do you start? Begin with a positive attitude toward what you’re doing, whether writing or speaking. John Adams, one of our Founding Fathers and a prominent lawyer by trade, successfully argued to the jury during the Boston Massacre trial of 1770 that “facts are stubborn things” and cannot be changed no matter how strong are your passions. Adams strongly believed in the rule of law and that the British soldiers he defended (successfully, it should be added), who were accused of murder when they fired their muskets into an angry mob, were innocent.
Thoughts are also things according to Napoleon Hill, author of the influential and best selling personal achievement book, Think and Grow Rich. Hill postulated that thoughts can be very powerful things when mixed with definiteness of purpose, persistence, and a burning desire for success.
I’m also reminded of Tim Gallwey’s best seller, The Inner Game of Tennis, which is largely about developing the ability to focus your attention on the task at hand. It is more about solving life’s problems by learning the art of relaxed focus and attention to achieve peak mental performance, i.e., getting into a “zone”, than playing tennis.
Clear writing thus depends to a large extent on the power of belief, belief that comes from having confidence in your writing. When you have that confidence, it will show – the reader can see it. To obtain confidence you must master what can best be described as the “inner game” of writing, overcoming mental blocks to clear writing. As with other challenges in life, you must develop the right mental attitude. In other words, you can’t write clearly if you are nagged by anxiety and self doubt about your writing. Persistence and determination to write well are omnipotent.
Years ago, a personal development writer named Dr. Maxwell Maltz created a program called psycho-cybernetics. It was very popular and was followed by Tony Robbins, Sig Siglar, and others. Maltz taught that to develop self-confidence, the following steps are important:
1. Focus on a daily plan
2. Use a graph or chart to monitor your progress
3. Get feedback from others as to how well you’re going.
4. Reward yourself as you make progress
5. Avoid burnout – take a break to relax and reenergize yourself.
These steps can also be adapted to a writing improvement plan. As urged in my book, “The Art of Clear Writing,” available on amazon.com in print and on Kindle Books, an important part of the approach to clear writing is to develop confidence in your writing by writing- and reading- extensively. This will help you to build a powerful vocabulary, probably the single most important step to writing with confidence. You can’t write clearly and with confidence unless you have an ample supply of words at your disposal.
Make a list of all new words you encounter. Learn what they mean and how to spell them. Write something on a daily basis, even if it’s only a letter to yourself, using as many of the new words in your writing as practicable. Monitor your progress by keeping track of the words you use – you don’t need a graph or chart for this. Then, have someone review what you have written. If the reviewer is satisfied with your writing, the self- satisfaction from having successfully used one or more new words should be reward enough. After your writing task is complete, relax and think about it. Focus on what you have written. The mind works best when relaxed. Often, new thoughts will come to you.
Copyright © 2013. Arnold G. Regardie. All rightrs reserved.