In this episode of MarieTV, we do have some adult language. So if you do have little ones around, grab your headphones now.
What’s up, party people? I’m Marie Forleo. And for over 20 years, I have been obsessed with learning what it takes to turn dreams into reality. You know, I started my company back in the day with no clue, no connections, no money, and over time grew it into something spectacular. I created the award-winning show, MarieTV, was named by Oprah as a thought leader for the next generation, and wrote the instant number one New York Times bestseller, Everything is Figureoutable. I’ve helped millions of people transform their businesses and lives. And guess what? Every week I’m going to help you take action and make the difference you were born to make. But please do not expect anything about this podcast to be traditional.
We’ve got songs, weird sound effects, the occasional F bombs, maybe some fart jokes, if you’re lucky, and anything else that makes me laugh. It’s all fair game because this is The Marie Forleo Podcast. If you do any kind of writing, today’s episode is for you. You’re going to learn three simple copywriting exercises that will transform long rambly writing into copy that’s short, powerful, and to the point. Now, once we dive in, you’re going to realize that some of your favorite brands already do this and that you can do it too. But first, a word from today’s sponsor. Tired of hearing this after you hit publish? Look, cricket sounds are great for nature lovers, but a nightmare for marketers, business owners, and copywriters.
Here’s the good news, you can replace the sound of crickets with this sound of raving fans by improving one simple skill: copywriting. Learning how to write simply, effectively, and in your unique voice will help you stand out from the crowd, and most importantly, get you more sales, more opt-ins, and more people who say, “I need exactly what you’re selling.” If you’re ready to write in a way that opens hearts and wallets, get your butt in The Copy Cure right now. It’s my flagship copywriting course that only opens up once a year. Learn more at thecopycure.com. But hurry, because doors close May 20th. I’ll see you in class. You know, one of the biggest emotional blocks people have about their writing is being too long-winded and rambly.
If you want to learn how to write in a way that is short and powerful and to the point, this episode is up your alley. Today’s question comes from Julia who writes, “Hey, Marie. I worry that nothing I write is interesting, or when I have something interesting to say, I can’t keep it short. For example, I write a weekly tip on my Facebook page, which should just be a couple of sentences long, but always ends up being several paragraphs. How can I keep my writing short, sweet, and to the point? Thanks so much, Julia.” Julia, this is a fantastic question, my love. Over the years, we’ve surveyed over 20,000 people about writing and 33% of them struggle with being too long-winded and too rambly and too wordy.
So you, my dear, are not alone. The good news is there’s a fix, and right now on this episode, I’m going to teach you three steps to writing stronger, shorter copy. Let’s dive in. Step one, let it go, let it go, meaning let yourself go. Let yourself be long and rambly at first. Why? Because it’s your first draft. That’s what it should be. It should be long and windy and rambly. Most writing is rambly at the beginning. That’s totally normal. It means you’re doing it right. Bestselling author Anne Lamott calls this your shitty first draft, and here’s what she says, “Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft.”
Anne continues, “For me and most of the other writers I know, writing is not rapturous. In fact, the only way I can get anything written at all is to write really, really shitty first drafts.” So take it from Anne, Julia. Step one in any writing process is to just get it out in the damn page. That’s your only job. All of us start there. But here’s the secret, you can’t stop there. Why? Because writing and editing are two very different functions. And if you try to write concisely and perfectly when you’re just trying to get your initial thoughts down on paper, you’re going to be frustrated. It’s like trying to speed down the highway with the brakes on, right? You’re going to burn out.
Now, even the most experienced writers will tell you this. They often write three times more than they actually need or end up using, and they spend so much of their time editing and polishing their prose. For example, did you know the Continental Congress made 86 changes to Thomas Jefferson’s first draft of the Declaration of Independence? Did you also know that Ernest Hemingway wrote 47 endings to A Farewell to Arms? And did you also know that Marion Roach Smith, the author of The Memoir Project, submitted her essay called Spam Chop Suey to NPR after draft 45? Step one, my love, is to relax and, seriously, let it go, let it go. Just give yourself permission to be as long and rambly as you need to be.
That’s all you need for step one is just that crappy first draft. But listen up, I know that for you and perhaps for other people listening right now, even getting things on the page is difficult. Now, if that’s you, I think you’re really going to love step number two, which is this, write it rude. I think one of the biggest things that trips all of us up when we’re writing is that we’re trying to please everyone, and I bet you do this from time to time. You’re trying too hard to be liked. You’re trying to be polite. You’re trying to be politically correct, and you’re trying not to piss anyone off. Then you wind up adding all kinds of parentheticals and word softeners in the hope that nobody gets offended and nobody gets pissed by what you’re saying.
I say screw all of that, especially when you’re writing your first draft. The next time that you sit down to write, I want you to try this, try writing it rude. Seriously. Like just be a total dick about whatever you really want to say. Here’s an example, remember that classic ad “Got milk?” It’s just Got Milk? It’s not, “Pardon me, but might you have any milk? Or, excuse me, I hate to bother you, but I’m just wondering whether you have some milk?” No, it’s not any of that. It’s just Got Milk? That’s it. Here’s another example for you, Just Do It. Those are three of the most iconic words in the world, right? Nike didn’t write, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you did it, or we strongly suggest that at your earliest convenience, you do it.”
No, they didn’t. They didn’t write any of that. They wrote Just Do It. I think writing it rude is a super effective exercise. Now, to be clear, I’m not suggesting that you leave it that way. Kindness is queen. It’s one of my biggest values in the world. And of course, all of us need to treat others with respect. And when you’re working just to get down that first draft, just to get your ideas on paper, writing it rude is a great way to zoom past your inner critic and get straight to the point of what you want to say. No fluff, no filler. Kapeesh? Kapeesh. All right, let’s move on. Step number three is trim the fat. Here’s where the writing magic really comes to life.
Once you have your draft copy that’s long and rambly or just plain rude, yet it contains the essence of what you want to say, I want you to go back and edit the bejesus out of it. Cut as many words as you possibly can. Lose every extra word without losing the meaning. In fact, there are some common words, I like to call them filler words, that you can almost always cut out of your copy. Here are some of them: just, that, really, very, you can, start. Plus, many adverbs too. Here’s how to do this. You can just do a find and replace in your shitty first draft and start cutting. The more you practice, the better you’ll get. In fact, we’re actually going to try this with something I just said right now.
Do a find and replace in your shitty first draft and cut. The more you practice, the better you’ll get. Now, I will tell you, in our writing program called The Copy Cure, we teach you exactly how to trim all those extra words that you don’t really need so your writing is tight, right, and powerful. Here’s another example to help you really get this point. Before trimming the fat, I might have written a first draft that sounds something like this, “I firmly believe that everyone is fully capable of writing their own copy and developing their own truly unique voice as long as they have the necessary knowledge of how to implement certain techniques, which I am about to share.”
After trimming the fat, here’s how it sounds. “Everyone can write. Everyone can develop a voice. All it takes are these simple techniques.” Pretty cool, right? I think so. And with that, there you have it, Julia, three steps to make your writing short and to the point. And if you want even more help with your writing, you need to get your sweet buns over to thecopycure.com. It’s our flagship writing program. It is amazing and it’s backed by a 100% risk-free satisfaction guarantee. So come on in. Now, it is time to turn this insight into action. Challenge number one is to use the three steps I just outlined in your writing. I promise you it’ll be better, stronger, and more concise.
Challenge number two is actually a question. What’s your biggest struggle when it comes to writing? I’d love to know so we can create more episodes like this one to keep you and your writing moving forward. You can come over to marieforleo.com/blog and tell me your number one writing struggle, or find me on social. I’m @MarieForleo on all the platforms. Also, a little heads up, I’m going to take a short break from The Marie Forleo Podcast next week because I’m putting all of my focus into kicking off this year’s Copy Cure program. But I do have something special that I’m going to be sharing with my MF Insiders next week. Those are my email subscribers. If you are not subscribed yet, go do it now at marieforleo.com/subscribe.
That’s marieforleo.com/subscribe. Thank you so very much for listening to The Marie Forleo Podcast. If you enjoyed it, screenshot it, tag me @MarieForleo, and share it on social. I love giving shout outs on the Instagram, or even better, leave us a positive review on Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts because hey, nobody likes poopy reviews. Stay on your game and keep going for your dreams because the world really does need that very special gift that only you have. Thank you so much for listening, and we’ll catch you next time.