The horror… the horror…
I’m sitting in my forty-year-old hotel room here at Disney World (Walt built the Contemporary as a “futuristic” hotel back in ’69 and — while not a bad place to stay — it’s got details that smack of a “B” sci-fi movie, like too much glass and aluminum under too-low ceilings) and I’m gearing up for a 13-hour ordeal flying the unfriendly skies to get home.
I’m frigging exhausted, but in a good way.
Because my mind has been violently stripped clean of extraneous thought, and I’m just too tired to dwell on much of the bullshit that occupies my brain during normal operating conditions.
It’s a Zen kind of thing. I’ve got enough energy to pack and make my final travel arrangements of shuttle, check-in, charge the iPod, etc. But mostly, my mind is clear.
I won’t bore you with the details. I flew into Orlando a week ago, to play golf with our good pal Dean Jackson (Mr. Leisure) for two days… then host a two-day intense “interactive” workshop on the inside details of writing killer copy… and THEN pull a two-hour shift onstage at Rich’s main event here, doing an interactive talk to a vast crowd of ravenous seminar attendees.
Plus, of course, there has been the usual naughty carousing behind the scenes most evenings.
I tell ya, the week’s been an adventure that would have killed a younger (and less philosophically-prepared) man. It’s certainly left me completely drained of creative energy.
Which is good.
I’m serious. I’ve known many creative types who never empty their tanks completely — they get into a comfy groove where they work regularly, but never face the physical/mental challenge of really putting their ass on the line.
The back-up of “modern” intellectual thinking piles up… and before you know it, you’re a thoughtful mess. Any Big Idea you come up with is laden with soggy baggage from other ideas you haven’t cleared out from a year before.
As my buddy Frank Kern says, you turn into a Howard Hughes clone.
One of the first lessons I learned during my quest to secure a seat at The Feast of Life was to “be a good animal”. And that requires lots of physical exertion — lots of it. Writers who don’t exercise tend to get horrific build-ups of carbon dioxide in their lungs (just for starters), which can make you permanently sleepy at the desk.
There’s also a very intriguing theory that most back pain is your body struggling to bolt from the desk and run away from the grind… the old “flight” part of our hard wiring… and since you won’t allow that, your back is in constant strain and stress.
For me, the occasional balls-to-the-wall seminar event actually acts as a minor vacation for my brain. Yes, even though I’m still thinking and talking about marketing and advertising and copywriting.
It’s the physical part that matters. Shaking hands, talking to strangers, navigating airports and hotels, sleeping in a strange room… all of it brings the animal part of your nature to the forefront.
I’m all for grooves. At home, in my messy office, I have created a place where I can execute with maximum creativity and super-sharp thinking.
But if I don’t occasionally empty the tank and get a fresh perspective on things, I get dull.
Already, this morning, each non-essential thought that bubbles up just pops and vanishes. I haven’t got the juice to worry, or fret, or even try to think of solutions… other than what I need to get through the trip ahead.
I just “am”, right now. Functioning at a low stage of the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs.
And I know, from experience, that when I’m settled in my office again tomorrow… I’ll be able to look at everything with fresh eyes and a fully-charged mind. The week has been well-spent, draining the bullshit and allowing my wounded creativity to mend and grow strong again.
Exhaustion is good, sometimes. Not as a permanent situation, of course. But when you vacation, or have a chance to saddle-up during a seminar, I suggest you take advantage of the adventure and go deep.
You can’t mine the gems in your head if the fertile part of your mind is covered with mulch.
You know what I mean?
P.S. I’m sorry you couldn’t experience that intense, interactive 2-day workshop. I compiled — for the first time — a 17-point “menu” of the steps I’ve been going through (unconsciously) for the bulk of my career… before I sit down to write any copy.
And that’s what I taught — essentially, the core secret of how I write.
Knocking off each of these 17 points beforehand just makes copywriting zip along on a greased slide. Headlines write themselves, your close is a breeze to concoct, you hit every single classic salesmanship angle there is (including the turbulence, spicy testimonies, and specific USP elements that most rookies ignore) and on and on. You line up your ducks, and you become a sales-generating machine.
It was wicked-good fun, too, working so closely and interactively with the attendees.
I love teaching, when it’s done right. Which, again, is exhausting.
Anyway, this isn’t a pitch. This was the first time I’d ever let anyone know about this 17-point menu behind my success, and I’m just happy the workshop went off so well.
I’m considering offering it again, but we haven’t made any plans (and may not — it was, as I said, exhausting, because of all the interactive teaching) (which included tons of writing, critiquing on the spot, and going deep on every point). I totally invested myself in forcing the attendees to “get it”.
I’ve only offered four seminars on my own since starting Marketing Rebel six years ago. This workshop was a favor to Rich Schefren, a good friend and fellow marketer. And boy, does he ever owe me now. I feel like the Godfather, with a back-pocket stuffed with favors I can pull out whenever I need someone waxed.
Anyway, it’s time to haul my crap downstairs and get my head into “travel mode”. I gotta split.
My bet is, the TSA crew at the airport have been working on new indignities for passengers since my last trip through the security line…
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