I love musicals.
I know… they fall far short when it comes to delivering my personal core elements of quality entertainment, which involve explosions, car chases, and warp drives.
But dad-gum, I do have a soft spot for a catchy song-and-dance number.
And one of my favorite musicals is the Disney classic, “Mary Poppins.”
(The original with Julie Andrews. The recent sequel was okay, but IMO pales somewhat in comparison.)
There’s a scene where Mary pulls out her tape measure to assess the two children under her care, Jane and Michael Banks.
The tape says Jane is prone to giggles. Michael is stubborn and suspicious.
They demand a nanny-check in return and when they measure Mary Poppins the tale of the tape proclaims “Practically Perfect in Every Way.”
That’s a pretty high standard to hit – “Practically Perfect in Every Way” – and what’s crazy is we as writers try to live up that standard just about every time we start typing.
Even worse for our business – we want it to be “practically perfect in every way” before taking the risk of sending it out.
This infects the entire writing process.
You know the drill. You write out the first sentence. Then erase the first sentence. Then you write a few words. Backspace over them. New words. Edit. Write. Stop. Edit. Write. Backspace. Write Write Write Backspace Delete Insert….
You go crazy trying to make that first sentence, that first paragraph, that first page, that entire piece PERFECT because that’s what the little voice inside your head is screaming madly as you write. “That sucks, start over!”
You’ll never write “practically perfect copy.” That’s an impossible standard to aim for. Instead, settle for “practically DONE copy.” Get it done. Finished. Good to go, even if it’s not perfect.
If you can’t help yourself and you are passionate about editing to perfection, then invest that persnickety-ness into your headline and subheads. Indulge yourself in a bit of agony over those… they do matter. But let your fingers fly free over the rest and don’t give them a break until they finish the task.
Get it written. Get it done. Get it out there to be seen, be read, be acted upon. You may think your writing flows like a dance number with two left feet. But you won’t know for sure until the audience tells you.
Write it and send and see what happens.
That’s the song and dance that makes you money.
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