Stop Playing it Safe! Why Being Uncomfortable Makes You a Better Copywriter

Estimated reading time: 19 minute(s)

Are you sitting comfortably? Our guest writer Victoria Fann is here to tell you why comfort might be holding your business’s copy back from reaching its full potential.

Do you find your business’s copy getting dull or lacking passion? Maybe it’s getting mechanical and it feels like you’re grinding out your ideas. So much writing, especially when it’s on demand, is based on a myriad of mental filters: assumptions, expectations, conditions, etc. We box ourselves into what’s familiar, put boundaries around it, and operate within those walls because that’s where we feel safe.

This kind of thinking is bad for your writing—and bad for business. According to Whitney Johnson, author of Disrupt Yourself: Putting the Power of Disruptive Innovation to Work, “Disrupting yourself is critical to avoiding stagnation, being overtaken by low-end entrants (i.e., younger, smarter, faster workers), and fast-tracking your personal and career growth.”

Habitual thinking gets us in trouble. We get stuck in our limited viewpoints and our work feels stale and empty. For a business, that can mean sounding exactly like everyone else, never rocking the boat enough to grab your target audience’s attention. And in a crowded marketplace, that’s a slippery slope toward irrelevancy.

Johnson continues, “The more closed your network, the more you hear the same ideas over and again, reaffirming what you already believe, while the more open your network, the more exposed you are to new ideas.”

Disruptive thinking has been demonstrated to create pathways for success, especially in the business world. Consider all of the most successful businesses out there. They were started by people who took a risk and introduced something new. Of course, there are many who do this and fail. But the ones who succeed win big.

The same applies to copywriting and the field of marketing in general. Great writing happens when you stop playing it safe and take risks. And that means getting uncomfortable.

Are you willing to shake things up? I mean really shake them up. I’m talking inner paradigm shift here.

Doesn’t sound too inviting, does it? But before you dismiss this premise outright (because, hey, who really likes being uncomfortable?), try these tips out for size. Of course, not all of them will appeal to you. But isn’t it worth taking a few risks if the reward is producing more compelling copy for yourself and for your business?

Get honest

“Each time you are honest and conduct yourself with honesty, a success force will drive you toward greater success. Each time you lie, even with a little white lie, there are strong forces pushing you toward failure.”
– Joseph Sugarman, legendary copywriter

To begin taking down your mental walls, ask yourself some direct questions. Am I all in with my writing, or am I holding back? In what ways am I playing it safe? What’s one thing could I do to make my writing even better? What feels scary or intimidating? What would be a stretch right now?

When you pause and get honest with yourself, you may be surprised by what you learn. How you currently view your writing and your process has everything to do with how you feel about it.

Do something you’ve never done

“What good is an idea if it remains an idea? Try. Experiment. Iterate. Fail. Try again. Change the world.”
– Simon Sinek, author and motivational speaker

Make a commitment to try something new with your writing. Get curious. Walk around your current project and see it from lots of different angles. Find the hidden gems buried beneath current trends. Be bold and shine a light on what others cannot see or take for granted. Be a disruptor and do the unexpected. Turn things inside out and upside down until you discover something fascinating.

Be willing to change your own beliefs, habits, and behaviors

“Life doesn’t always present you with the perfect opportunity at the perfect time. Opportunities come when you least expect them, or when you’re not ready for them. Rarely are opportunities presented to you in the perfect way, in a nice little box with a yellow bow on top. … Opportunities, the good ones, they’re messy and confusing and hard to recognize. They’re risky. They challenge you.”
– Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube

We all have our zone of genius where we feel comfortable because we know we’re good at what we do. It’s so easy to hang out there. But like anything else, that gets old.

One simple way to spark new ideas is to change your routine. Get away from your desk and write in a new environment. If you typically write alone, ask someone to brainstorm with you. If you write in long stretches, take more breaks. If you like quiet when you write, listen to music. And so on. The point is to get your brain unhooked from the same old grooves.

Take a break

“Taking a break can lead to breakthroughs.”
– Russell Eric Dobda, mindfulness practitioner

When you’re tense, the flow of ideas gets pinched off and no amount of forcing will accomplish anything. Walking away from a demanding writing project can push the reset button, allowing you to come back to it with new ideas and passion.

So meditate. Take a power nap. Rest your brain. Watch some comedy. Whatever you do, just don’t try to power through—it’s no way to do your best work.

Get radical

“I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough.”
– Marissa Mayer, president and CEO of Yahoo!

To make a radical leap, do something you’ve said you would never do or that brings up a pretty strong degree of discomfort or resistance. This stretches you and, once you do it, builds your confidence so that hopefully you’re willing to stretch again. Ideally, stretching becomes a regular part of your life.

Don’t be afraid to fail

“If you opt for a safe life, you will never know what it’s like to win.”
– Richard Branson

The fear of failing can cause you to keep such tight boundaries around your approach and process that you rarely, if ever, try something new.

Perhaps you’re risk-averse and are convinced that if what you do works, why try anything new? This is a cousin to perfectionism, which requires that you adhere to a made-up internal standard or else you’re doomed. Both ultimately lead to the same place: burn-out, rigidity, and exhaustion. So loosen up and give yourself permission to make mistakes. They’re not the end of the world.

Time to step out of your comfort zone

Start with any one of these suggestions and pretty soon you’ll realize how much was actually missing from your writing—and how much potential a little discomfort can unlock for your business. Perhaps you’ll even decide to take a sledgehammer to some of those thicker walls. As you resuscitate your writing, the excitement and passion will return and the idea of taking risks will get easier.

Of course, you don’t have to go it alone. If you need a small push to get out of your comfort zone or just want a few extra pairs of hands on deck, you can always enlist the MarketSmiths team to help you out. Get in touch today to find out more.

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Samantha McLaren

Having worked as a ghost tour guide for five years, Samantha knows how to get a reaction using only words. Hailing from bonny Scotland, she spent years gathering weird, eclectic experience (from laboratory assistant to radio DJ to Sunday school teacher) before finding her true calling–writing. She came to New York to see what MarketSmiths could teach her, and never left. Copywriter by day, amateur horror writer by night, she has a passion for words and is drawn to the strange and unusual.

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