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Mastery and Copywriting

Published by: David Garfinkel on 03-20-2023

Today we took a new look at an old question: What does it take to become a really, really good copywriter?

I wanted to answer this question by zeroing-in on the path of mastery.

I’ve been learning about the path of mastery for a long time. What I found out goes against what I learned in school and what I see on TV and in the movies.

Our culture celebrates achievers but it does NOT respect the path of mastery very much. I’m lucky in that I know a number of copywriters who are well along this path, including a few who are personal friends and a few more who are my mentoring clients.

To prepare for this show, I went back to the books I’ve been reading since 2009 to flesh out my ideas and observations. A few surprises, some new information. But nothing that goes against anything I’ve noticed and concluded up until now.

So what I did was pick some key points from great books about mastery, and weave all that together with some practical, down-to-earth tactics and approaches for getting really, really good at copywriting.

The way I see it, in copywriting, the word “mastery” is a term to describe having so many skills and so much knowledge at your fingertips that what you do looks effortless to someone watching you. It’s not really effortless, but it’s certainly different, when you do something after having prepared yourself to get really good and having done it in a certain way. And there is a known and documented way to get to this place.

A better way to say it is: to get on this path. Because mastery, it turns out, is much more a path than a place. It’s more a journey than a destination. It’s more a way of continuously working on your skills, rather than a badge that you put up on your website.

When you’re well along the path of mastery, you may be able to solve problems and come up with ideas in a fraction of the time it takes someone with less experience to do the same thing. When you do it, often seems effortless to the person watching. If they knew what was going on under the hood, they would know better. It’s not excruciating, but it’s not always that easy, either.

In copywriting at the highest levels, being able to perform at a high level is important. Why? Because somehow, as copywriters we find ourselves, in situations where we have to fix things or change directions under great time pressure. If you have the ability to go with the flow in situations like that, it can make all the difference in the world.

On today’s show, we didn’t talk that much about the amazing feats of master copywriters. But we took a really good look at how they got there and how you can get there, too. Because when the heat is on, you’ll want to be there yourself. When everyone’s counting on you, you want them to feel good about how you perform.

The advantages are: you have more choices and more opportunities. You end up working with more interesting people on more interesting projects. And, last but not least, you end up getting paid a lot more money.

Here are the four parts of today’s show:

Part 1: Practice Doesn’t Make Perfect — But Practice for Mastery Keeps Making You Better and Better

What famed cello player Pablo Casals said about practicing. The definition of the kind of practice that makes mastery possible from the leading expert in the field, Anders Ericcson. Plus more from author Daniel Coyle and Robert Greene.

Part 2: The Two False Flags On The Path Of Mastery

My favorite expert on mastery is the late writer George Leonard. Some important insights from him on what the path is like, along with two misleading signs to watch out for, and why they occur from time to time.

Part 3: So What Do You Practice, Anyway?

Killer wisdom from martial art great Bruce Lee, as well as a couple other great insights from master teacher of hypnosis Igor Ledochowski and author Robert Greene. Also, a key finding from neuroscience about mastery, from author Daniel Coyle. This part of the show gives you a clearer picture of how practice fits into your journey as a copywriter.

Part 4: What Gets You On The Path And Keeps You Going

The surprising personal quality that gets and keeps you on a path to mastery. Spoiler alert: It’s not innate intelligence or talent. But, according to Robert Greene, it IS genetic.

Books mentioned:

Mastery, by George Leonard

Mastery, by Robert Greene

The Talent Code, by Daniel Coyle

Peak, by Anders Ericcson and Robert Pool

Keywords: mastery copywriting

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