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Why keeping your hands busy keeps your piggy bank full

“Repetition can improve your technique and refine your style. If for no other reason than this, I keep my hands busy.”

— Hard-Boiled Wonderland and The End of the World


I took a break from reading King’s Dark Tower series because my friend recommended the book mentioned above.


In terms of style, Haruki Murakami can’t hold King’s candle wax. But the book is wildly entertaining — split into two separate stories that alternate every other chapter.


And it hit me when I sat down to write this email that the main character doesn’t have a name.


In fact, none of the characters in either story have a name.


Alas, that’s not what this email’s about.


Instead, we talking about Allen Iverson’s favorite word:


“Practice”


A few days ago, a new subscriber emailed me asking for help.


He’s pretty “green” to the world of copywriting.


Now, I don’t like giving away advice for free. But this green copywriter made a mistake I did when I first started. One that many green copywriters make when they first start. And I figured I could turn it into an email, so I offered him up some free advice.


He wanted to know what books he should read. And how he could improve his copy chops.


My response?


Reading’s great and all—but it doesn’t hold a candle to sitting down and writing.


In fact, that’s one of the reasons behind the emails you read from yours truly every day.


I write copy most days when I’m doing client work.


But y’know what?


There are days when I don’t write copy for clients. There’s a bunch of other small tasks required of an email copywriter — and sometimes these tasks can eat up an entire day.


This list “forces” me to get my reps in every day.


Because repetition is the only way to improve.


Let’s look at two stories:


Story #1 — The musician that made other more experienced musicians practice until their fingers bled… and then kept practicing until they formed calluses… and then still kept practiced until their calluses broke open and bled again… and wound up having the most mangled, bloody, and disgusting fingers my eyes ever laid sight on… because they were worried I improved at a faster rate than them.


Here’s the story:


When I was a senior in high school, my buddy wanted me to join his band. His bassist was moving, and he wanted me to fill the role.


So, I skipped down to the local Guitar Center and bought the cheapest bass I could find.


Then, I practiced for 4 hours every day. I sucked. But I improved every single day.


And I did something that no other bassist thinks of:


I invited over some of my friends and jammed as much as possible.


Fast forward a few months, I replaced my inexperienced musician friends with bonafide band members. We jammed a good 3 nights a week, sometimes more. I still practiced by my lonesome. And I hired a teacher.


Within 6 months, I played my first show.


Within a year, I had an absurd amount of shows under my belt — close to 100 live shows give or take.


When I studied music in college—training under Robert Hines, who played bass for Ray Charles and was in the plane crash with Ray—my live show experience made me a better bassist than everyone else my age (even if they were more technically skilled).


They had more “book smarts” practice. I had more “street smarts” practice.


Which, in the world of copywriting, it’s the difference between reading every copy book known to man and doing nothing with it…


Or writing real copy for real clients and getting real feedback.


To quote my (humble) self:


Reading [music’s] great and all—but it doesn’t hold a candle to playing in front of real people.


Story #2 — The Black Mamba (RIP)


When Kobe Bryant wanted to improve his jumper, he forced himself to make 2,000 shots a day.


In fact, he made 100,000 shots in one summer.


100,000 shots is an insane amount.


(This story also reminds me of Kanye forcing himself to make 5 beats a day in the summer… how Motown, the record label, forced their artists to make 5 hit songs a week—and one had to be a radio hit, or they’d get the ax… and even how Heath Ledger locked himself in a room and gobbled down psychoactive drugs to prepare for his role as the Joker.)


Kobe ended up becoming a legend because of his work ethic.


And y’know what?


He wasn’t the most talented.


Guys like MJ, LeBron, Shaq, and Steph had more raw talent (physical or finesse).


But I never tossed away a crumpled up piece of paper and yelled “Emjaaaay.”


I always shouted, “KOBE!”


Repetition.


Repetition.


Repetition.


Repetition.


Repetition.


Repetition.


Repetition.


You’ll suck at everything new you start. That’s a fact of life. But with practice and repetition?


You can become a legend.


Anywho:


Repetition and consistency also apply to your bank account and emails.


The more emails you send, the more money your company makes.


It’s as simple as that. I’ve yet to see—or even hear of—a company who makes less money by sending more emails.


But writing emails is hard. Especially if you’re not a trained copywriter and don’t spend your day tapping away at a keyboard like your humble narrator here.


But don’t worry.


Since you’re lucky enough to have found this list—and to have opened this here email—I’ll let you in on a lil secret:


You can hit reply if you have a proven offer and an email list.


We’ll jump on a quick call.


And if we both decide we’re a good fit?


You’ll never have to write or think up an email again.


I’ll do all the “heavy lifting” for you.


And we'll both watch our piggy banks tick up… and up… and up… and up… until it bursts at the seams, spilling piggy bank guts everywhere because we made so much cashola together.



John


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