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The ONE thing paralyzing your hottest copywriting... - Jimmy Curley "Street Marketing" Blog

Hey… Jimmy Curley here.

Glad to see you’re back for more “Street Marketing” punishment.

I won’t beat around the bush… today’s lesson is something I call:

“How not to get your testicles caught in a drawer.”

(Alternative name: “How not to get your titty caught in a wringer.“)

Whoa… now slow down.

Before you leave in a huff, just hear me out.

It’s about dealing with the ONE thing that may be blocking your hottest copywriting and boldest marketing moves…

… unreasonable fear.

The idea hit me while I was watching a documentary on various kinds of human phobias. You know…. case studies of people terrified to ride in elevators… or frightened of spiders crawling inside their ears… or afraid of clowns with razor sharp teeth.

Absolutely fascinating stuff.

One disturbing case involved a middle-aged man scared shitless of getting his testicles pinched off in a doorway, a cabinet, or anything else that could slam shut.

His life had become a virtual prison. Couldn’t get near anything that had hinges or would open and close…

… so a car door, the refrigerator, or the silverware drawer were all off limits.

Another case, (and I’m going somewhere with this), was a woman who was obsessed with the idea that she had just run-over someone with her car…

… and so she circled the block over and over again looking for some poor sap smashed in the roadway.

Eventually she realized that she had NOT hit anyone at all…

… but then would “hear” another thud… freak out… and begin to circle the block all over again.

And so her cycle of searching for human road-kill continued.

But what was REALLY interesting (besides how that woman ever got her driver’s license), was that, in all other respects, these people seemed like normal folks.

They talked openly about their dilemma, seemed reasonable, intelligent, and logical…

… and then wham-o, a door would slam shut and he’d jump back guarding his nuggets…

…or she’d scream out that she’d just mowed-down some poor bastard in the street.

Wow… this really got my attention. Mainly because, in part, I realized that we ALL suffer from some kind of unreasonable fears. (I know I’ve NEVER liked evil clowns with razor sharp teeth).

And here’s the good part… where I connect this all up with you and your copywriting and marketing efforts.

You see, I’m convinced that the biggest “block” to fabulous copy is plain and simple FEAR. Unreasonable fear at that.

Let’s break it down.

You have a “big idea”…  or want to say something that’s really gonna connect… get attention… maybe even make someone’s nose bleed…

… and then pow, the voices of self-doubt, fear start to creep in.

“I can’t say something like that!”… “the client will freak if I show her this,”… “what will my dad think”.

It’s all fear… the kinda thing that will actually PARALYZE your copywriting just like it trapped that lady within one city block of her home…

…and kept the man safely on his couch, away from the terrible scrotum-tearing jaws of his window shades.

Don’t be like that, especially when the solution is actually pretty simple.

So here it is: The big solution to “writer’s paralysis”.

Get over it and force yourself write down the “big idea” anyway, no matter how stupid or nutty it sounds, or how much it makes you sweat.

Consider it a kind of “rough sketch”.

Don’t worry about sentence structure or polished copy yet. Just allow yourself permission to “dump”, “vomit”, or say anything you want… with the understanding that you will later return for a ruthless edit.

Don’t hold back.

And for God’s sake, (this is important), don’t hit the “publish” button or let anyone read it yet, or you may find yourself the star attraction in some phobia documentary.

Give your copy a day or two to settle, even if you’re convinced that it’s genius-level stuff. Then go back and do one, two, three or more deep edits.

Remember that writing is a CRAFT.

Nobody is whipping off finished copy from the top of their head.

Which is why the “Hollywood” version of writing is such a joke.

We’ve all seen this in some movie or another. That determined writer who sits down and types out “Chapter One” on a blank sheet of paper and then madly pounds out page after finished page of copy…

… until, at last, he types out “The End”… tears the final sheet from the typewriter… lights up a smoke… and enjoys that soothing rich tobacco flavor while smugly patting a thick, perfectly stacked manuscript.

This is ridiculous.

Writing is much more like creating a painting.

You don’t start at one corner of a blank canvas and work your way across the surface, leaving a breathtaking finished painting in your wake.

No… it doesn’t work that way.

Even the greatest fine artists who ever lived — Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Rembrandt  —  would start with numerous crude “idea” sketches…

… toss most of them out… make many corrections to the ones they liked… and then trace or transfer the final rough sketch onto a canvas (or the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel)… brush in some sloppy light washes of color… and slowly “build it up” with more finished colors…

…until eventually the painting began to take on a finished quality.

But it starts with some big, bold, rough sketches.

NOTHING happens without it… and you can’t allow unreasonable fears to get in the way of the process. You can’t be afraid of getting your testicles caught in your desk drawer. Or your titty in the wringer.

Have fun with your ideas. You’re not wasting your time — this is an integral part of developing some killer final copy…

… crucial because sales and marketing is all about connecting the product with the emotions behind the purchase.

Use your words like a baseball bat to smash through the most skeptical arguments… a bridge that connects product features with the prospects deepest desires and fears… a sharpened arrow that pierces through callused layers and infuses life into a withered heart.

A glib song and dance won’t do. You gotta dig deep.

Trying to market diet pills? You better understand the secret suffering of overweight women who no longer want to be “invisible”.

Got a “make money quick” product? It’s essential to know about your prospect’s struggle to make his mark… and his desperate desire to have his wife and family proud of him.

A “how to meet women” product? Are you considering that a high percentage of these prospects will be guys looking for a good wife… and not just a quickie in the parking lot.

It’s like a TV commercial I saw for “Joe’s Bail Bond Service” (or whatever the name was). A dozen or so jailbirds in striped pajamas were dancing and singing in their cells. It was funny, but stupid and certainly missing the mark.

So guess what Joe’s competitor did?

He put together a commercial showing a worried young woman with a crying child in her arms walking into a scary police station packed with hardened unsmiling cops…

… then cut to a warm scene inside “Bob’s Bail Bond Service” (or whatever the name was) with a caring man handing that poor woman a cup of coffee, rubbing her smiling kid’s head, and “giving you the help and comfort you need in times of crisis”.

See? Whoever did Bob’s marketing did their homework.

They understood that is was mainly women bailing out their worthless husbands and boyfriends. And that having her man arrested and thrown into jail was not one bit funny to her. It was, in fact, a crisis.

Guys dancing and singing from behind bars was cute, but it wasn’t making the connection.

So don’t be afraid to stretch a little.

To do your homework, get that “big idea”, and then take the path less traveled.

Which somehow brings me back to the whole “testicles in the door” thing.

This really started to play on my mind.

I began noticing just how friggin’ dangerous the world is just below my waist line.

Scheez… started thinking that maybe this guy in the documentary wasn’t so nuts after all.

I mean, I’m standing at my bathroom sink in my underwear and lookie there… a damn nut-crackin’ drawer just below my waist… waiting to do some serious, serious damage.

Then later on that day I’m getting groceries out of the trunk of my car. I’m facing the open trunk, holding groceries bags in both arms…

… and then it happens…

… my wife slams the trunk shut.

Oh my God… I got my testicles pinched off.

I leap back in terror… and she stopped and looked at me with a wrinkled brow.

“You okay?”

I was of course perfectly fine.

“Uh… yeah. I’m okay. It’s just that… well… you know… it seemed a little close.”

She just shook her head. “You saw that stupid documentary, didn’t you?”

Man, does that woman know me or what?

And so I got over it. Goddamn those unreasonable fears.

Next, I’m working on the razor-toothed clowns.

For better marketing…




Jimmy Curley

P.S. Listen… if you have ANY writing experience then you have something to contribute. Don’t you DARE leave here without making a comment. Much appreciated.

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51 Responses to The ONE thing paralyzing your hottest copywriting…

  1. Stan Dahl says:

    Get tip, Jim.

    I write some sort of sales copy every week. And I’m constantly working with copywriters of every skill level (and pay grade).

    Most rookies seem to believe writing is a linear process. The real pros know all good writing starts with simply getting some ideas out of your head and onto the screen (or paper).

    • Jimmy Curley says:


      Thanks for stopping in and sharing. You’re absolutely right, it’s a very looong distance from that “big idea” you’ve got bouncing around in your head to the fingertips on the keyboard.

      Problem is, when it’s not quite happening, when the stream of consciousness isn’t flowing quite right, a lot of good folks simply fold.

      Can’t do that. Gotta just get it down and start massaging and reworking until it IS right.

      Again… great that you stopped in. I know you’re busy with the Marketing Rebel Insider’s Club — so your time is much appreciated.


  2. Kevin Rogers says:

    Man, what a fun and timely post, Jim.

    Took the fam to Chi-town for some good city fun last week. Can’t pass up the observation deck of the John Hancock Center. 100 floors to the top and my wife is terrified of elevators.

    Trumped only by her dedication to our children’s happiness apparently, because to my surprise, she agreed to take the 45-second ride up.

    Interesting thing is that it’ snot so much being closed in the elevator as it is being crowded amongst other people that freaks her. If more than 4 people pile on, she rushes off, no matter how many floors we have to go.

    So I hipped the attendant to this and he rolled a display of brochures into the elevator before our group loaded in, making it impossible for more than 3 people to get on with us, but avoiding the need for him to explain that “this whack-job don’t want you breathing near her.”

    (No one questioned why the hell he would roll brochures into an elevator going to the place IN the brochure.)

    She still got overwhelmed, but between the brochure case and the recorded message clearly meant to smooth the frazzled nerves of moms who would rather face terror than miss the awe on their kids faces as they step out to the 100th floor and look out the windows… she did good.

    What the hell’s this got to do with your great lesson on writing fearless? I guess its that even though writing balls out takes a lot of us WAY out of our comfort zones… pushing past that is well worth the trip.

    Thanks for another great post, Jimmy. You’re on a tear man. Keep it coming.


    • Jimmy Curley says:

      Hey Kev:

      Yeah… a surprising number of people just friggin’ HATE elevators.

      I saw a candid camera where the dude walked into the elevator and FACED the crowd instead of the door. Made folks real nervous.

      A good friend of mine is so afraid of heights he can’t stand on two-story balcony or his head starts spinning.

      I know it’s easy to say “just get over it”, because the fear is very real.

      Same with the writing. When it’s time for the “big idea” to hit the page, it’s damn frightening sometimes to come out and SAY the things that are in your head.

      As a one-time stand-up comedian, Kevin, YOU probably understand overcoming this kind of fear more than anyone.

      Just curious… let’s say a heckler hits in the middle of your routine… what’d do?


  3. Alfredo says:

    Great post Jim!

    • Jimmy Curley says:

      Hey Alfredo.

      (For you folks who don’t know this dude… he’s a kick-ass video editor who’s been in the industry for over 10 years.)

      Appreciate you taking the time to check in.


  4. Let me get this straight. You want me to comment after two bald guys have already spoken?

    I hope it’s not catching.

    Facing down your fear is a big part if going pro.

    There are a lot of changes in the world of copywriting right now.

    I hope your blog provides an avenue for dialogue.

    But sheesh, get rid of the bald guys.

    • Jimmy Curley says:


      I also considered shaving what’s left of my hair… but then suddenly realized my damn head is puss-white and lumpy.

      Nobody wants to see that.

      And fear is the big factor with just about any venture worth pursuing.

      Seriously, Harlan, you’re one of the few guys who dove right into this industry and started swimming. And not the dog-paddle, but a friggin’ Mark Spitz butterfly.

      I’ve long suspected you did through a deep-seated personal resolution that “fear is for chumps”.

      I was hoping you’d chime in. Thanks.


    • Kevin Dawson says:

      Ha! Remember the first client you ever referred to me at your week-long intensive? Before I could contact him, I was hyperventilating, shaking like a wino with the DT’s.

      But you were right. The more I faced this down, the less it bugged me. Nowadays, before talking to clients, I nearly have to stifle a yawn.

      Powerful stuff, facing down your fears.

      • Jimmy Curley says:

        Hey Kevin… had no idea you were going through that anguish.

        You hid it well.

        Yes… powering through the fear and simply NOT allowing it to water down your best ideas… or make you procrastinate… or even stall calling that client… is the key.

        Glad to hear you made it through to the other side…


  5. Kevin, so weird you brought that up. I used to be afraid of elevators. I would get in them but I hated it. I got some people to go with me and calm me down. Still down really enjoy it though.

    I love the part where you show how the commercial bonded emotionally. Don’t we all want someone to feel our pain? And then give us an easy solution?

    Life often doesn’t work like that, but selling does.

    They understood that is was mainly women bailing out their worthless husbands and boyfriends. And that having her man arrested and thrown into jail was not one bit funny to her. It was, in fact, a crisis.

    Guys dancing and singing from behind bars was cute, but it wasn’t making the connection.

    So don’t be afraid to stretch a little.

    To do your homework, get that “big idea”, and then take the path less traveled.

    • Jimmy Curley says:

      Hey Lawton:

      Gotta say one of my biggest concerns is “missing deadlines”. I really am NOT worried about getting my junk caught in the trunk, or clowns, or heights…

      … but looming deadlines make me a bit jittery.

      I think is has something to do with agency work where missing a deadline meant the office had to eat the price of the ad space — and we were putting together a lot of full-page ads in major metro newspapers and trade pubs at the time.

      Ad reps would come into my art department actually screaming that they’d “kill” me if I missed the courier.

      Still suffering from post traumatic syndrome over all that… but it deeply embedded this fear of never missing deadlines.


  6. Doc O'Leary says:

    Interesting…cool stuff…but,I got my testicles pinched off…jeeze Jimmy…hold your horses!

    …you really need to get rid of some of that inner tension.

    Know what I’m talkin about?

    So unreasonable fears?

    Now just be honest about it. Did you ever consider the possiblity that your weird, twisted anxieties might force you to become a talented copywriter or maybe even a politician!

    No really, people do need to loosen up that’s for sure.

    Maybe let your ass wander out on a limb sometime…try it on for size.

    But,remember do-not-remove-tag-under-penalty-of-law…that’s when the fear will starts to creep back in.

    Thanks Jimmy -I’m kinda selfish…I’m glad you’re on my TEAM!


    • Jimmy Curley says:

      Doc O’Leary!

      Always a pleasure. You may be on to something… that a certain grinding fear of f-ing up may be what drives good copy.

      I KNOW one thing… every golf ad I write that makes you nervous is a sure sign that the ad will do well. It’s like a barometer.

      Doc… I know you’re one busy dude with your new clubs coming in and the two new DVD launches and all the other shit you got going on… so I’m thrilled that you stopped in.


  7. Dang, Jimbo. Who knew you had so much wisdom locked inside ya.

    Just ribbin’ ya…I knew you were insightful but this is a golden post for the archives. I simply LOVE the insight about just getting those big ideas out of your head and down on paper. Copywriters (heck, writers of any genre) all go through this fear thing at EVERY LEVEL. You’ve walked us through the fire. I appreciate your post tremendously!


    • Jimmy Curley says:

      Yo, Lo:

      As a freakin great copywriter yourself, I’m happy you could relate.

      Some writers — especially newbies — call that staring-at-the-screen-and-finally-giving-up thing as “writer’s block” or some such thing…

      … but in my experience it’s just fear of what others will think when you stick your neck out and just say what you really want to say.

      Always a pleasure to hear from you.



  8. Dana Houser says:


    Damn am I glad I listened to the recorded interview Kevin Rogers offered of you, e-mailed you… and got on your mailing list. Great stuff. Since Kevin triggered my ADD, I have to tell you about our family elevator ride that my 4 yr. old son(at the time) didn’t get off because he was looking out at the view. It was a glass elevator. But boy was he scared to ride for a looonnnngggg time. If you could get him on one, he had a death grip on either your hand or was choking you off around the neck… and rightfully so.

    But like he did, we should do the same. Face our fear and overcome. This writing gig has taken me longer to get off the ground than I thought, but most things do take longer than you think they’re going to. But I’m learning and moving forward.

    I was thinking, “wow, what if you write balls out(not literally) and offend someone or piss them off?” But then I answered my own question. If something isn’t working, tweak it and try again. That’s why we test stuff huh? And like you said in the post…

    …”Don’t worry about sentence structure or polished copy yet. Just allow yourself permission to “dump”, “vomit”, or say anything you want… with the understanding that you will later return for a ruthless edit.”

    Keep ’em coming Jimmy!


    • Jimmy Curley says:

      Dana… right on.

      Had a whole lesson in this “pissing people off” 15 years ago with a “fight dvd” direct mail ad with a headline that read something like…

      ” ‘Last Name’ Family Viciously Attacked In Their Home”

      The “Last Name” was of course the reader’s own last name and then the ad went on to say that you don’t want that headline in your local newspaper.

      Man did THAT raise some hell. TRS got a mountain of hate mail… but a record number of orders.

      Then Carlton wrote an “apology” letter (sent with the ad attached) explaining that TRS didn’t mean to piss anyone off.

      THAT sold more product than the first run.

      Big lesson here. Churning up a deep emotional response = attention and (usually) more response.

      Thanks Dana… great comment.


      • John Carlton says:

        I also wrote the original piece that pissed everyone off, Jimmy. The chaos and rage resulting from that mailing was truly spectacular.

        And it was NOT a planned thing to do the apology letter. I insisted we do it, after the client (Russ) seemed to be going into shock from all the negative backlash… and while I suspected we’d win back many of the folks who were outraged, I was still (pleasantly) surprised by how many not only accepted our apology, but also bought.

        The surface lesson: It’s all about the relationship you have with your list. Like a marriage, you’re gonna screw up occasionally (or a lot), and as long as your heart is in the right place, you may be forgiven.

        The deeper lesson: Like Halbert always said, there is no problem in the world that can’t be solved with a damn good sales letter.

        Including the problems you create for yourself.

        • Jimmy Curley says:

          Yeah… Russ was making the mistake of opening up and reading each and every letter in a mountain of angry mail. Took it’s toll on him.

          That second “apology” letter also generated a ton of mail… but they were stuffed with checks and money orders.


  9. Dezi Koster says:

    Hi Jim,
    I loved your post. You are too funny and extremely entertaining! What’s so good is that not only do you grab my attention with your amusing stories, you also weave into them your great insights about facing your fears. If we don’t overcome our fears they become obstacles that prevent us from realizing our true potential. It’s very cool how you encourage writers to just get everything down on paper and think of it as a rough sketch. You then refine it till you get it just right. – that’s a nice metaphor and good advice. It’s also applicable for dealing with challenges that we face in life.

    As I do a lot of writing myself I can really relate to this post. I find it really helpful to just get everything out. You miss out on too many gems if you don’t.

    Not only that if you don’t face your fears, the world misses out on experiencing you. Where would the world be without
    brilliant and funny copywriters like yourself who’s magic is wrapped up in the ability to take the frailties of the human condition, sprinkle it throughout the text and make us laugh at ourselves so as to not take life so seriously. That is indeed an art. You are a true artist. Thanks for making me smile and keeping me entertained. Looking forward to more of your magic!
    Much love
    Dezi xxx

    • Jimmy Curley says:

      Hey Dezi… my pleasure.

      You are a promising up-and-comer copywriter yourself, so I’m stoked that you’re getting some valuable insights here.

      Fear is of course a valuable tool. If alarms are buzzing off in your head, you gotta take a serious look at that.

      Which is why I encourage people not to show off their work before it’s completed. It allows you the luxury to get everything down, and then sneak up on it later almost as if you’re a second party reading it for the first time.

      Thanks for your thoughts Dezi…


  10. Colin says:

    Hi Jim,

    Another great post. That chaotic period where you’re just writing ideas down, (even stupid ones) is such an important part of the process. So true.


    • Jimmy Curley says:


      You’re right… it IS a chaotic period at first where you’re essentially mining the raw material you’ll need to “build” your piece.

      Thanks for showing up…


  11. Lina Nguyen says:

    Hi Jimmy

    You guys have the craziest, whacked-out TV shows in the US… You know that, right?

    This is what I love about copywriting – Feeling the fear and writing the stuff anyway.

    So, how long have you been holding onto the fear of publicly writing about your genitals?


    • Jimmy Curley says:

      I get all tingly when a girl asks me that.

      Actually though, ANY guy has a visceral response to this kind of thing. If you’re ever with some guys watching “Stupidest Videos” or some such show… then pay attention to the male reaction to the quintessential scene of the golf ball shot to the groin.

      Girls will giggle… guys will yelp and pull their legs together.

      Thanks for jumping in Lina… always good to hear from you.


  12. Leah Carson says:

    Gotta love any post that uses crushed naughty bits to dole out such good advice!

    I run into writer’s paralysis a lot. Most of the time it comes from all of the “what if’s” bouncing around in my mind. “What if I use this as a lead?” “What if this is a better big idea than that?” “What if the reader is more motivated by anger than fear?” and so on. I want everything that I write to be my best work possible, so if I’m not careful, I can let the fear of making the “wrong” choice paralyze me.

    So how do I move past that? Well, by doing exactly what you suggest. But I don’t do it for just one crazy idea, I do it for ALL of the crazy ideas.

    When I feel the paralysis sneaking up on me, I just get down to business. I pour a steaming cup of coffee and let loose. I get every one of the “what ifs” onto the screen in black and white. That way, they’re no longer bouncing around in my head, clouding my judgement and confusing me.

    Now, they’re pieces of the puzzle. I can play with them, mold them and shape them. I tweak, edit, rearrarnge and more often than not, I end up using most of my “what ifs” in one way or another throughout the copy.

    Is it weird that I think the whole process is fun? No. It’s weird that I’m tightening, securing and cinching up my bra before walking out my office door and into a kitchen full of doors and drawers! 😮

    Safety first.

    • Jimmy Curley says:

      Leah… this is KILLER advice.

      You’re spot on here. Writing a good piece is like “building” something. A contractor wants ALL the materials he’ll need on site so he can start constructing the house…

      … and a writer needs of good stash of ideas and sketches on hand to craft a good rough draft.

      Great observation… thanks.


  13. Dean Horine says:

    Great stuff can’t wait to see more.

  14. Jimmy Curley says:


    Hey man… congrats on graduating UCLA. That’s huge.

    Thanks for popping in…


  15. John Carlton says:

    Yo, Jimbo. The big dividing line between true professional writers… and the squirming mass of wannabe writers… is nothing more than the act of writing. (With “writing” defined, here, as creating sales messages that get read and acted upon… so research and the mastery of salesmanship is inherent in the word “writing”.)

    And it’s frustrating for the wannabe who can’t wrap his head around this fact. As a teacher, I am forever dealing with folks who insist there must be a shortcut I’m hiding from them. Nope. You sits your ass down at the desk, and you types away.

    It’s the same with any skill that requires discipline and repetition. With musical instruments, it becomes obvious if you don’t put in your time — you can’t make the guitar sound good. With writing, it’s not so obvious… because it takes a good eye to see what makes a great ad, great.

    So this is a timely message, Jimbo. Rookie writers need to know that the pro’s aren’t perfect, but they face their fears and keep plugging away. That’s a huge secret to success in almost anything, but especially in writing.

    Great job, man.

    — John Carlton

    • Jimmy Curley says:

      Hey John:

      Yeah… this is like the “art” crowd I hung out with in the Bay Area. They LOVED to talk about various hip artist… loved to drink and smoke… loved to discuss deep concepts of the meaning of art…

      … but very few actually DID any “art”.

      Too much damn work.

      (Talking about it isn’t enough.)

      Thanks, as always, for your help John.


  16. Mike Morgan says:

    OK… us bald guys have a voice too Kilstein.

    But I digress…

    So… what’s the next step after facing your fears? (Which was brilliant Jimbo.)


    I don’t know a successful copywriter who doesn’t have it.

    Once you face down the demons of fear, a bit of well-placed swagger gives you the balls to create real magic.

    So how do you develop some swagger?

    First, relive past successes.

    Next, visualize a smashing success with your project.

    I never knew the power of visualization until the mid 80’s. It was still the cold war era, and the USA and Soviet union waged war with sports.

    The Soviets were the first to use sports psychology, but it quickly caught on in the USA. At the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, training camp participants would go through mental training. This was really cutting-edge at the time.

    There I learned the power of playing a tape in your head of your perfect race. I raced track cycling and my specialty was the 1 Kilometer Time Trial. So it was easy to play a 1 minute and 10 second “mind movie” of my race. The all-important start… getting aero… building speed through the middle… and the gut-busting, lung searing finish.

    I’ve used visualization ever since. In many areas in my life. And it’s almost always delivered the goods.

    So… back to swagger.

    When you feel confident (like after visualizing success and/or seeing a past success) you’ll build swagger. And a confident writer is a danger to wallets accross the globe.

    Now… don’t let your swagger infect your ego and give you a “god complex”. Just ride the wave and keep on being cool.

    (That’s one of the things I love about a Carlton shindig when we all get together. It’s like we all have this psychic bond that keeps it real. Check your ego at the door… and grab a beer. )

    In my opinion, developing a bit of swagger will help you slay the goblins that come along the way.

    Superb post Jimmy.

    Mike Morgan

    • Jimmy Curley says:

      Hey Mike:

      Great, great stuff here.

      Interviewed a pro golfer who was also a big fan of visualization.

      He also did an audio interview on “how to get into your buddies’ head” during a round.

      The idea was to screw up or simply implant your own visualization into their head.

      So after your golf pal hammers a perfect 280-yard drive down the middle of the fairway, you don’t say, “wow, nice drive.”

      No, you say, “wow, it’s amazing you can hit such a nice drive with that weird backswing you’re using.”

      That’s it. Don’t say anything else.

      Then sit back and watch the fun.

      Thanks for feedback Mike…


    • Another baldy heard from…

      Who else is on the list…

  17. Joe says:


    Another great post. Thanks a ton!

    Might not be “true”, but I thought while reading that this advice might be most powerful for folks like me who aren’t pro copywriters but do it (when possible) for their own business…b/c I have less rehearsal/experience jumping past the fear into the writing.

    I loved this post so much that a summary went in my journal!

    Keep up the good work. It is appreciated.

    Mil gracias,


    • Jimmy Curley says:

      Hey Joe:

      The stuff about the documentary… all true. I had some fun towards the end, but that’s what this blog is all about… having some fun while mixing it up and learning from each other.

      You’re in the right place my man. The guys chiming in are some of the smartest writers and marketers in the biz.

      Really glad you’re enjoying the ride…


  18. Anthony Flores says:

    Awesome post Jim. I always felt pretty fearless when it comes to pushing the lines, but then again – I think it’s partly because guys like John and Gary and Gene Schwartz recommended studying the National Enquirer. So I got comfortable with the idea of being shocking pretty early … I would definitely recommend that for those who want to get a little ballsy.

    Granted, Brad and Angelina’s latest scandal has nothing to do with your product or market — but it can get you more comfortable with intense emotions, attention grabbers and shock. I found it pretty priceless in my development anyway 🙂

    Some of your other points are fantastic as well – I think sometimes procrastination is due to subtle fear of failure – which we all have, but some just manage to press forward in spite of it. Still, knowing this as you describe helps you talk your way through the fear and get going. Also, having a strong routine can help overcome fears and procrastination.

    Also, one last thing I think is worth mentioning — a lot of copywriters have contempt for business owners who are “chicken” and don’t want to push the limits of shock or compliance. And I understand that, sometimes there’s nothing more frustrating than someone watering down our copy and crippling it.

    Still, it’s important for us freelancers to understand it’s THEIR business and they carry far more risk in the relationship than we do. Yes, our rep is at stake if we write bad/weak copy … but a business owner is always afraid their business go be lost.

    Again, not saying it’s cool to cripple the copy — but we should emphasize and also evaluate their level of willingness to take risks BEFORE entering the relationship, to know if it’s really worthwhile for both parties.

    Anyway great post Jim, you now have a streak going 🙂


    • Jimmy Curley says:


      This is why I love to have hot-shot marketers and copywriters ringing in. Great stuff here.

      Your are correct about having contempt for chicken-shit business owners who don’t want to step up to the plate… it is indeed their money and their ass on the line.

      I own a few of my own businesses selling my own products, so I understand what it’s like to plop down major money on product development, payroll and overhead.

      Which is why I know my marketing has GOT to be bold. THAT is what works. That is what pays my employees and fellow business owners.

      And THAT is why it’s tough to watch a client waffle and wring his hands about “taking a chance” on the most basic vanilla salesmanship.

      Love your comments here Tony… thanks man.


      • Lisa says:

        And THAT is why it’s tough to watch a client waffle and wring his hands about “taking a chance” on the most basic vanilla salesmanship.

        Ah, but the basic vanilla salesmanship as you see it, is the scary unreasonable fear to your client. You may have faced your unreasonable fears head on, but your client is still plagued with negative voices; fear of failure, fear of success, fear of not fitting in or appearing foolish, fear of contempt of peers, and the list goes on and on.

        I just took on a customer service job, which is basically phone sales at a call center. I’m starting to realize that half the people that call to buy are just hoping for someone to talk (and listen) to them. And they’re hoping for a memorable transaction that will give them more to talk about with others. Anything that causes them to stand out in a way that is perceived as unattractive (either for themselves or for their homes) is not a good thing.

        I’m hoping to hone my basic salesmanship skills. They’re already hot to buy.

        Maybe I’ll find a way to face my own fears down in the process. I confess, I am a chicken, too.


        • Jimmy Curley says:

          Lisa… great of you to step in and start mixing it up.

          The thing is, if the consequences of not getting a handle on this were minor… then it wouldn’t be a big deal.

          But that’s not the case. We’re in a tough market economy with a lot of competitors jockeying for position.

          Which means the consequences of choosing to sit back in the shadows are akin to choosing not elbow your way to the dinner table.

          You’re either gonna learn to get good with the elbows, or watch while others eat your lunch.

          Some years back I read an article on what elderly people regretted most in their lives.

          The overwhelming response was that they regretting “not taking more chances”.

          So… they’re near end of their lives… and looking back they realize that they had played it too safe…

          … sat on the bench and watched the game when they could have instead played.

          Why? Because they were “scared”. Screw that. You got one shot at this. Get in the game and start having some fun.


  19. Den Curley says:

    Hey Jimbo, I still remember you crying in dread at those clowns when Dad would take us to the Tripoli Shrine Circus. It was kinda cute at first,but by the time you were like 14-years-old it got a little disturbing. “Jimmy, for the last time, those clowns do NOT want to devour your feet.”

    Anyway, you snuck lotsa informative info. into a hilarious piece there. For sure, plunging in, writing down a bunch of wild ideas and then letting them stew for a couple days is great idea on a lot of levels. But what about when facing those deadlines when you don’t have that luxury? Sometimes the dreaded deadline is one of those things that causes people’s brains to paralyze, freeze and crack. Any tips for that?

    • Jimmy Curley says:

      Brother Den:

      Great question.

      First, for those of you who don’t know… my bro here is one very sharp dude with one hell of a mid-western work ethic.

      Journalism degree from the University of Wisconsin, Masters in English, writer (his stuff picked up by the Milwaukee Journal), artist, philanderer, and all around good guy.

      He used to critique my early short-stories (pounded out on a Royal typewriter) and let me know when characters were flat, or the writing stagnant, or when (occasionally) it hit the mark.

      So thrilled you drop in with some thoughts, Den.

      Anyway, the “deadline” thing is VERY important. If you’re not working with a deadline, you’re probably not working.

      Sometimes of course the deadline is ridiculous. A day or two to write a full blow sales letter is not enough time to do the job right.

      But of course all the pro writers here have faced down this kind of scenerio… but the process is the same whether you have 1 hour or three months…

      … research, dump, organize, edit, re-edit, re-edit.

      If I had an hour, gun to the head, I’d spend 30 minutes researching… ten dumping… ten editing… ten reediting.

      I’ve got a whole lot more to say about “deadlines” — which is another blog coming to your hometown soon.

      Thanks for dropping by Den, good stuff here.


  20. My two favorite quotes.

    “Sales and marketing is all about connecting the product with the emotions behind the purchase.”

    “Use your words like a baseball bat to smash through the most skeptical arguments… a bridge that connects product features with the prospects deepest desires and fears… a sharpened arrow that pierces through callused layers and infuses life into a withered heart.”

    I printed them out taped them to my printer

    Good Stuff


    • Jimmy Curley says:

      Hey Kevin:

      Appreciate the kinds words.

      I LOVE jumping over to your site occasionally to get some killer inspiration.

      For anyone who doesn’t know, that’s:


      Great stuff over there from you, Bond, Schramko, Carlton, Abraham, Bird, Polish, and of course your dad.

      Thanks man…


  21. Marc says:

    Don’t know how I’ve missed you all these years, Jimmy … but great stuff.

    I don’t think anyone in the history of the written word has ever scribbled these words: “… the terrible scrotum-tearing jaws of his window shades.”

    LMAO! Keep it up.

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