Every time I sit down to write I have this agonizing dilemma:
I can't figure out where to start.
So I peck out a few words on the keyboard, delete them. Try a few more words, delete those too.
The late great John Caples compared this to starting a car on a cold day:
“The human brain is like an automobile engine. It works best when it is hot. When you sit down to write an advertisement, your brain is cold. This means that sitting down and writing a beginning for an advertisement is like trying to drive an automobile up a steep hill with a cold engine.”
He (and a lot of other writers) recommend skipping ahead and starting further down in the body of the copy.
The theory is you'll get warmed up by writing the “easy” parts, say the offer and the guarantee.
Then you can circle back around to the “lead,” or beginning of your email or sales page, and since you're all warmed up the copy will just flow.
Yeeeaaaah, that doesn't work for me.
When I write copy, I think in a straight line. I'm looking to build a logical sequence of ideas and images that gets the reader from A to Z as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Each step in the copy builds on previous steps. What I say next depends on what I've already said.
See my problem?
If I don't know what my starting point is, it's tough to just pick up in the middle and start building a chain like that.
With my programmer brain I just always struggle to make progress until I can clearly see the beginning and end.
Lately I discovered a tool that helps me answer this “where do I start” question quickly so I can get into a good writing groove.
It's a list of 6 different ways to start a sales letter, depending on who you're writing to.
Now having just 6 “clicks on the dial” might seem limiting, but it's actually very freeing.
For example, yesterday I needed to get started on a short video sales letter.
So I pulled up a blank document in my writing software and listed out the 6 different lead types.
Then I stepped into my reader's shoes and asked myself, “What does my audience already know about this product?”
I wrote out a few sentences from the perspective of my audience, and within 2 minutes I saw that I needed to use a “problem-solution” lead.
And I knew exactly which problem to home in on too…
I was off and running.
And the copy just flowed.
You can see all 6 of these lead types (as well as when to use them) in “Great Leads” by Michael Masterson and John Forde.
I got so many breakthroughs from this book that I plan to read it at least 3-4 more times.
It's available on Amazon here: