An advertisement that has been pounded out in the white heat of enthusiasm can be tamed and made effective. But it is impossible to put life into dead copy. ~John Caples
Whether you’re promoting a product, a program or just an idea, exuberance sells. One of the reason blogs can be so effective is that their writers tend to show more enthusiasm than polish. And that’s not a bad thing—if you have to pick one over the other, enthusiasm wins.
Here are a few tips on how to get infectious enthusiasm into your writing. When you write with passion, you’ll grab your reader’s attention and persuade her that you’ve got something worth getting excited about.
Write as fast as you can
When you find something that gets your heart racing, start writing while that excitement is hot. Great ideas (or the perfect turn of phrase) don’t always stick around. Get your thoughts onto paper or pixels as quickly as you can.
This is why professional writers keep a notepad or a handful of index cards handy all the time. An audio recorder works great too–and most newer cell phones now have a record function.
(I have yet to figure out a good writing system for the shower, which is where I get about 80% of my best ideas. If you know of one, will you let us know in the comments?)
While you’re taking the time to catch your great idea, write down as many details as you can. Don’t worry if most of it is junk at this point. If you keep your pencil (or keyboard) moving, you’ll come up with some phrases and ideas that capture your state of excited inspiration, and those can become the seeds for your inspired copy.
It can’t be faked (for very long)
Remember the classic Saturday Night Live sketch, “It’s a dessert topping / it’s a floor wax”? That, and most of the ad parodies SNL has done since then, point to the absurd phony enthusiasm that many ads adopt.
Fake enthusiasm can be spotted from a mile away, and it’s an immediate turn-off.
There’s nothing wrong with doing a few jumping jacks to manufacture some energy every once in awhile. Probably even Tony Robbins doesn’t show up to work every Monday morning with unstoppable energy. But if you’re “faking it until you make it” most of the time, it’s going to show.
If you’re feeling burned out about your topic, take action to get the excitement back:
- Get on the phone and talk to some customers who are getting genuine value out of what you offer. (This technique alone can keep you going for a long time.)
- Have a long chat with the product creator and let some of her geeky energy rub off on you.
- Dive into some research until you unearth a fascinating feature that you can translate into a spine-chilling, exciting benefit.
If you’re consistently writing about a subject that doesn’t excite you, and your efforts to jump-start your enthusiasm aren’t bearing fruit, you need to be on the lookout for a new gig. Life is too short to read boring copy—or to write it.
It won’t be cool
Enthusiastic copy isn’t cool—at least, not while you’re creating it. It isn’t polished. It isn’t sophisticated.
In fact, it’s usually kind of dorky.
Any creative person who’s worth a damn has a dorky side. Good creative work can’t survive cynicism. I’m willing to bet that even Bono gets a little secret thrill over something lame—maybe it’s brand new white shoelaces, or blue Jell-O or LOLcats.
Being a dork just means you can get insanely excited about something that not everyone can see is cool. Mr. Jalopy (a master of enthusiastic copywriting) is a dork about Laundromats. I’m a dork about content and relationships. Roberta Rosenberg is a dork about landing pages.
A dork is someone who’s not afraid to be excited. A dork is a great thing to be.
Business writers call it “passion,” which makes it seem a little more dignified, but don’t kid yourself. The key to enthusiastic writing is to be an unabashed dork about what you’re promoting.
Capture your enthusiasm while it’s fresh. Make it real. And don’t be afraid to embrace your inner dork. Get the juice back into your writing–your readers will love you for it.