"Let's Write a Swimming Pool"
The Beatles were already wealthy in 1964 when Paul McCartney and John Lennon sat down one day to hammer out a new song.
At the time, Paul says, "John would be getting an extension on his house or something, and the joke used to be, 'Okay! Today let's write a swimming pool.' It was great motivation."
Paul continues, "Then in the next three hours, 'Help!' appears from nowhere, you'd suddenly get the idea, this'll be a hit, this is a good one. You become aware what you were doing was making money. Making good money."
Good money indeed.
What motivates you? What drew you to the writer's life in the first place? What keeps you going when you don't necessarily feel inspired?
I always had this idea that John and Paul were constantly "on," that they could crank out a hit song whenever they wanted.
But they were human, too. They were already established by 1964 and didn't need the money per se, but they were still motivated by what the money could buy.
I'll admit it: I'm motivated in the same way.
I'm motivated by trips I want to take, the new car I want to buy my wife, and the home I want to build in a few years.
I'm also inspired by my fellow copywriters and what they’ve been able to do thanks to the income they’re generating.
I love it when I see a picture of Christina Gillick sitting in a brand-new Camaro she's considering buying. I get fired up when I see pictures of Sean McCool's house in the process of being remodeled. And I love hearing about Cindy Cyr's trip to Los Angeles for her son's music career.
These things confirm for me that I'm in the right profession at the right time.
It's not all about the material things either, just like it isn't for Christina, Sean, Cindy, and other copywriters I know.
It's more about the freedom of being able to do the things we want, enriching our personal relationships, and making life a little more fun.
I know that the trips I'm taking are creating lasting memories for my kids more than stuff I could buy for them. That's what fires me up about the freedom and the income of having a successful freelance business.
We're already seven weeks into the new year. If you haven't already done this exercise for 2012, write down three things before Monday:
- How much you are going to earn from your freelance business this year.
- What you plan to do with the money you earn.
- Why that's important to you.
Then post these three things where you can see them every day while you write.
For me, seeing my goals on a daily basis inspires me. When I'm in the middle of a 12-hour day of writing, it reminds me of the bigger picture and why I'm a writer.
And one last quote from Sir Paul before I sign off for the week: "I think people who create and write, it actually does flow – just flows from into their head, into their hand, and they write it down. It's simple."
Sure, maybe it was simple for the greatest songwriter of all time.
For the rest of us? Writing can be hard slogging.
I do know this: if you stick with this copywriting thing, it gets easier. It gets more lucrative.
It's different for everyone, but all of a sudden, it clicks. You develop a second nature for the cadence and flow of good copy. It starts to flow from your head to your hand.
And when you put it all together – your copywriting skills, your marketing efforts, your networking – big things start to happen, and it becomes downright fun!
I hope you've learned a thing or two this week about building a profitable freelance business. I hope you've found a bit of inspiration as well.
I'm curious to know what one of your big goals is for 2012 and what's motivating you to achieve it. If you would, share it with your fellow AWAI members below. You might unknowingly inspire someone else.
Now, go and write yourself a swimming pool.
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Awesome article, Steve!!
This year, I'm writing (and visualizing) a castle in Belize.
Christina Gillick –
@Christina - I love it! Sounds like a perfect place for a private writer's retreat. Let's connect soon.
Steve Roller –
I am writing a yard renovation. I am also planning to "retire" from my part-time job so I can focus on writing, gardening and working with my husband in our health business.
Steve. I must say I really enjoy your articles. Maybe because I'm a songwriter and you refer to music often :), or maybe it's just that you have an extremely encouraging style. My tires are so new in this business, the stickers and little rubber whiskers aren't even wore off yet. My goal is to write my way out of a failing business. My hope is I just won't be able to afford time in the old business for the strides I'm making in this one.
Brad Dunse –
Steve Your post yesterday was indeed inspirational and your genuine interest in the progress of AWAI students was what got me to actually reply.
I am a Carpenter/Builder who is winding down his lifetime career and looking for a new creative outlet. I think Ive found it with AWAI. The idea of creating a value product from anywhere in the would you want is just incredibly appealing.
I am anxious to do some traveling in my Autumn years and the idea of making money while I do it is absolutely surreal to me. My big goal is to get my first paying copy job by summer this year.
I look forward to the learning process with AWAI.
I think I will now go practice writing myself a vacation.
Best Regards Bob Donaldson AWAI student
Guest (Robert W Donaldson) –
Thank you Steve. My motivation is the house I want. My swimming pool is 1A3A. My goal is to keep my grades high in college this year as par. I will also develop my research tecniques.
Thank you all for all of your help. Patrica.
Guest (Patricia Roberts Slocum) –
@Linda - Thanks for sharing your goals. Make it all happen! Best wishes to you.
@Brad - Thanks. I do like to weave in the musical threads! I'll respond to your private email this week as well. Press on.
@Robert - I'm fired up by your comments, thanks! Mine was a mid-career shift, but I think this is a perfect "autumn years" pursuit. You might just find those years stretching out longer and more fulfilling than you ever thought possible. Keep me posted, and let me know if I can ever be of help.
Steve Roller –
@Patricia - You're welcome, and thanks for putting your goals out there. Those are worthy plans to be sure. Best wishes.
Steve Roller –
Wow! Thanks to everyone who took time to read my articles this week, and especially to those who took time to comment below each piece or privately to my email. I'm touched by the response, and more inspired than ever to achieve my goals as well. If anything struck a heart chord with you this week, take it as a sign that you are probably in the right place at the right time. Forge your own path, stake your claim, plant your flag, and practice, practice, practice.
Steve Roller –
I echo Brad & Bob! I'm quite new at this. Still learning & not yet open for biz, but that will happen in the next 3 months! I am writing myself a career-change (a two-week notice to the boss by this autumn), and a better life for my husband & I. (I'm writing "retirement" for him & less stress for me.) Then... more goals to come!
Thanks Steve. Love your articles!
Paula High-Young –
@Paula ABQ - Thanks! Sounds like you have a workable plan and some big purposeful goals. Let me know how things progress by fall, and hope to see you at Bootcamp.
Steve Roller –
Thank you for contributing this article: you inspire me by living the writer's life.
Like you, I too am a fan of the Beatles. Their music has been the stuff of legends and we like to hum their tunes and sing their songs in good times and bad times.
For me, however, the search for external gratification has given way for the satisfaction of inner peace.
To sit silently and do nothing is a reward that money can't buy.
It is not something that can be described, but needs to be experienced.
Archan Mehta –
Steve, thanks for remaining me that I don't write for the sake of it, I write my life.
I can write a house with a veranda for my cat, studio, tons of books, big kitchen and a garden.
It may sound materialistic to some, but we live in a physical, materialistic world. What I really write is freedom to bake cakes for family and friends, to create, to live a stress-free, healthy life.
Thanks, Steve, my motivation is sky-high, and I'm back to writing a veranda for Jack(with a house attached).
With your determination and motivation, I'm sure your veranda for Jack will happen (and a house attached).
Best wishes, and let me know if I can help you in any way.
Steve Roller –
This sounds like a dream to me right now. I've always been able to write things, short stories that make me want to live them, folksy songs and melodies. I just never thought it would be possible to earn a living at it. Now I don't think any of my songs would ever be a top 100 chart breaker but to me they are easier than making a peanut butter sandwich. It all started in High school when I was forced to write a poem by my teacher, I turned it into a song in the service and went on to other songs.
Guest (Jeff) –