A Question For Y’All

I’ve had the pleasure of hanging out with other writers a lot lately.

Writing anything — fiction, ads, webstite copy, autoresponders, poetry — can be a very isolating experience. None of the best writers I know work with a single other co-writer, let alone a committee. At most, we have someone gather research info for us… but when it’s time to put words down, we go hide.

This solitude makes us dangerous social animals when we get around other writers. I call it “The Brotherhood of the Pen”, and this sense of shared-connection goes back to the dawn of civilization… which, by no coincidence, was spurred by the invention of a written language.

There’s something unique that happens in your brain when you write. You take intangible language, and translate it into physical form. Sometimes, you write out concepts even before they take shape in the language center of your cerebral cortex, skipping all internal dialog. The written manuscript becomes the only way the concept is expressed.

It’s almost impossible for non-writers to understand this process. You have to experience it. And while all writers love to produce good stuff, the process can be a tad daunting over the long haul. You gotta want it, and if being a working writer “takes” and you join the Brotherhood, well, welcome to the fold.

This is why I bend over backwards to help other writers whenever I can. We all help each other.

So here’s my tip of the day. I’ve written about this before, but after hearing other professional writers admit it’s advice they often forget about, I’ll repeat it.

The tip: Set aside time each day dedicated to writing.

Make it the same time each day, too, so it’s a habit. Give that time top priority in your life — shut off all phones, lock the door, get nasty with people who violate your time (so they won’t do it again). (When people close to you finally realize you’re serious about your dedicated alone time, they will grudgingly accept it… and even help you in protecting it. They’ll mock you, because this kind of discipline is seen as suspect in our slacker culture… but they’ll respect you for doing it just the same.)

Top writers never wait for “inspiration” to arrive, and they never fear “writer’s block”. Both terms are fiction for professionals… excuses that non-writers use to explain their failure. When you set aside a certain time to write, your brain will get the message soon enough… and you will sit down and start writing.

I used to even have “writing clothes” — filthy sweats and even a battered hat I wore as a “uniform” to announce to myself and the world that I was, by God, ready to write. Part of why that worked was the fact I was too embarrassed to be seen outside my home office in those clothes, so I may as well sit down a the computer and write. But there was an iconic element, too — putting on those sweats and donning the hat prepared my head for the next couple of hours. I was a writer, and I was going to write.

An advanced version of this habit eventually included a full hour of stretching and meditating first (and sometimes a short power-nap). Writing is a physical effort that can play hell with your back, your neck, your eyes, and your breathing. (Many writers slouch, which cuts off full breaths, so your CO2 builds up. If you get headaches, get a better chair. And set a timer for forty minutes — and force yourself to take a five minute break, where you stretch and take deep breaths to clear the system. It works.)

An even more advanced version is to add another dedicated time, either before or after your writing time. This extra time would be for free-form thinking. I know several top marketers who have a semi-secret “war room” in their home with special walls made of washable marker-board. They go into this room — where there are no phones, no open windows, no computers, and a big damn lock — to think the Big Thoughts.

This dedicated free-form thinking is where the magic often takes place.

If you can even carve out a single hour in each day to write, your life will change dramatically. I write in two-hour blocks myself… but that’s me.

And I’ll admit that I have allowed my free-form thinking hour to go away. It just got swept up in the daily bullshit of running a business (as is usually the case when good stuff vanishes). Hanging out with other writers reminded me of how important that time is, though… and I’m scheduling it back in.

If you could have just one hour of dedicated writing… coupled with just one hour of uninterupted free-form (yet disciplined) thinking… you will rock your business, your life, and everything you touch. Most people don’t get one hour of either in a week. Some, never.

And what’s a two-hour block gonna do to your current routine? Almost nothing. You will still have lots of time to surf the ‘Net, play with the dog, have long lunches, watch Oprah, whatever you’re doing now to waste time or pretend to be working.

Consider it.

And now… a question for you.

One of the benefits I bring to the table as a teacher is the fact that I’m still a working veteran copywriter. Top marketers will blow off other tasks to take my calls, I get pitched on major projects almost every day, and I am among the first to hear all the juicy gossip and share all the cutting-edge discoveries with other insiders in multiple businesses.

Those people who understand the potency of having someone like me in their Rolodex never take it for granted. I’m wired into the grid, and I have the classic chops to make their marketing work at a world-class level.

So here’s the set-up to my question: While my “Insider’s Club” is a kind of coaching program (since I personally critique your copy)… I am considering a more formal “internship” program. Both with writers (giving you more than just critiques)… and with business owners who might want a veteran like me available to help with the writers on their staff (like kick their ass to keep them on track and away from the bad copy traps so many rookies fall into). (You can find out about the “Insider’s Club” at www.marketingrebel.com, of course.)

And here’s the question: Is anyone out there interested in this kind of more-intense contact with me?

And if you are, are you willing to shell out the possibly-outrageous money required for such intimate contact? (I only have so much time to spare, and any new program like this would have to be limited to serious people who understand the stakes.)

If you know my private email, you can respond directly… or just post on this blog. (I actually like to read the comments on the blog — sometimes, it creates a real dialog.)

Right now, I’m not saying I will or I won’t offer this program… but I suspect it’s something smart marketers will jump on, and I KNOW it’s needed out there.

There are just so many distractions and other “really important” things in people’s lives. I’d like to know if anyone is ready to push a little to move ahead at lightning speed.

Anyway, find an hour where you can write or think every day without interruption (even if you have to get up an hour earlier or go to bed an hour later), and test it out for a month. See what happens.

Stay frosty…

John Carlton

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  • Lisa Manyon says:

    First, I’m still reeling from my Hot Seat at Lorrie Morgan -Ferrero’s Speed Copywriting Workshop. Second, I must be a glutton for punishment because, I am interested to hear what you have to offer. In all seriousness, you provided solid advice and after the Hot Seat, I was a little more exhausted and drained than I thought I would be. I tried to blame it on you, but I knew it was really because you jarred my reality and made me rethink my entire approach. THANKS. I needed it.

  • Bill Naschak says:


    Yes, I’d very much like to retain your future services. Your “Kick-Ass Copywriting Secrets” really is just what the doctor ordered. So, thanks for finding us at AWAI.

    Professionally, I’m in my early forties, reasonably well paid, but tired of working for, and prospering, “The Man.”

    Next month I’ll be attending AWAI’s Information Marketing Boot Camp, where I’m expecting to capitalize on my expertise and “big idea.” After that, (and a few more paychecks) I sure could use your help. Email or telephone instruction would work equally fine for me.

    You’re worth your weight in gold, John.

    Bill Naschak

  • John

    I would definetely like to hear what you have to offer. I think any copywriter out there would be a fool not to.

    Joseph Ratliff

  • Hoorah John,

    Once again you have hit a nail square on the head. It’s not just about writing that one needs to lock themselves away from the distractions in life. It should be a habit in everyone’s life. You are oh so right that when you do this people tend to think you are doing something illegal or immoral. I found that people can ignore you for 23 hours in a day but when you shut yourself in suddenly everyone needs you and can’t wait. It’s a battle.

    Unfortunately I am not in a position to take you up on your offer. I know it would be invaluable and well worth the investment of time and money. As of now I make the most of these short injections you share on your blog.



  • John,

    I’ve been pretty good at keeping a 3 hour time slot every morning for pure writing. But I think I need to take out an hour and devote it to thinking.

    I heard one maxim, that no probably follows, but would likely reap great benefits if they did: If you read for one hour, write for two; if you write for two, think for three; if you think for three, meditate for four.

    The free-thinking time would help with the problem of my mind always wanting to think when I’m doing other things. There are so many things I’ve gone ahead with, that I know if I had just thought it out a little more, I could have done 200% better.

    I had planned to devote 30 minutes a day this month to practising Dr. Matlz’s Theatre of the Mind Techniques. I think I’ll couple that with 30 minutes of war room planning.

    Thank you,


  • Curt Tuck says:

    I’m seriously interested in your more formal “internship” program and more intense contact with you. Hope you you decide to do it soon, and you send out details about the nuts and bolts. Love to be anong your first “graduate” students.
    Cheers from the sandy oil patch in the ME.

    Curt Tuck

  • Tom Tolman says:

    Hey John:
    Would be most interested in the details of such a program. Looking forward to hearing about it and appreciate your tip on dedicating time and space to writing
    every day.
    Trying to stay frosty. Tom Tolman

  • Dan Gallapoo says:

    I’m in. Looking forward to hearing the details.


  • Chris says:

    Hey John,



  • John Rinaldi says:

    I am leaving this comment as I have a different take. Running the biz for me means mostly telephone sales. About 4-6 hours of day of that and email answers to prospects. My marketing is very good and I am generating all the biz I can handle.

    I love writing – love copywriting more. I just don’t have reason to do much of it. I do about 1 cw project a quarter. I’ve heard you speak more than once, looked at your stuff a bunch of times but never bought. It just looks too intense for me given time and purposes.

    I guess I am asking if there is a less intense program for people like me? For example, the CDs I have of you and Dan for the Marketing Bootcamp were wonderful. What do you think?

  • JOE D'Agostino says:

    Another great blog John. I have trouble getting that hour to write. I am 41 and looking to change careers. I first saw you talk at a Joe Polish bootcamp, so you know I am a carpet cleaner. The back and knees are starting to go so I am currently taking the AWAI course and have been a Rant suscriber for 3 years now. I look forward to it every month. Interested to hear about the intern program.

    thanks again

  • JOE D'Agostino says:

    Another great blog John. I have trouble getting that hour to write. I am 41 and looking to change careers. I first saw you talk at a Joe Polish bootcamp, so you know I am a carpet cleaner. The back and knees are starting to go so I am currently taking the AWAI course and have been a Rant suscriber for 3 years now. I look forward to it every month. Interested to hear about the intern program.

    thanks again

  • JOE D'Agostino says:

    Another great blog John. I have trouble getting that hour to write. I am 41 and looking to change careers. I first saw you talk at a Joe Polish bootcamp, so you know I am a carpet cleaner. The back and knees are starting to go so I am currently taking the AWAI course and have been a Rant suscriber for 3 years now. I look forward to it every month. Interested to hear about the intern program.

    thanks again

  • Graeme says:

    Spot on as usual.

    Thanks for sharing some great insights.

  • Shaun Thresher says:

    Hey John,

    I just got involved on your funk pyscadelic world a few months ago.

    I just finished the Awai course. But it was not what I thought it was.

    I just like to pick up on your vibe. Here is my question:

    I would be interested in this opportunity.

    1) what are the benefits of the Pro level Career Kit over The Insider Club?

    I am not worried about cost (ignorace is so much more) I want to know if I take the Pro level course I should …

    If I go for the Insider Club I will get…

    I am asking because this is my chosen profession. And I want the best education. Also I want to learn the right way first.

    Here is a quote the should fit your style:

    “Half-ass twice as fast, doesn’t last.”

    This has helped me immensly.


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