WBW: story of discovery, importance of a “cuts” file & contrarian editing

Welcome back to Write Better Wednesdays!

Writing is a keystone skill for anyone looking to grow & monetize their email newsletter.

So each week, I share 4 things to make you a better writer:

- 1 piece of copy to swipe
- 1 piece of content to consume
- 1 prompt to write
- 1 quote to ponder

Let’s dive in…

Read time: 3 minutes

Copy to swipe:

Last week, I broke down TheFutureParty’s newsletter sign-up page.

Today, we’re looking at a simple Facebook ad they’re using to drive traffic to that lander and generate new subscribers.

Check it out:

This is very typical of what you see across many newsletter publishers running ads on Facebook and Instagram.

So if you’re looking to start running paid ads to grow your newsletter…

Modeling this approach is a great place to start.

Podcast to listen to:

Neil Strauss is most well-known for writing a book called The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists.

He’s written several other bestsellers under his own name…

And he’s also a top ghostwriter.

In fact, he’s ghostwritten for Jenna Jameson, Kevin Hart, the Jonas Brothers, and most recently, Rick Rubin.

So this interview with David Perell is littered with writing takeaways.

My favorite is the importance of using a “cuts” file:

***

Always have another file or at the bottom of your thing, keep everything you cut because you might want to put it back in. 

People have this weird thing where they think that’s permanent, they’re scared to take sentences or words or paragraphs out of what they’re writing because they think it’s permanent.

But you can remove as much as you want and then see if it still holds up.”

***

This is something I’ve been doing for years.

It can be a lifesaver on longer-form projects.

Prompt to write:

“What’s my story of discovery?”

Every successful product or service has a compelling story of discovery behind it.

For example:

  • Swiss engineer George de Mestral invented Velcro in 1941 after noticing how burrs stuck to his dog’s fur during a walk

  • In 1928, Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin by accident when he noticed that a mold called Penicillium notatum had killed bacteria in a petri dish he had mistakenly left uncovered

  • Viagra was originally developed by Pfizer in the 1990s as a treatment for angina, but they later discovered it had a significant side effect when all the men in their trials refused to return their meds

  • The idea for Uber came after Travis Kalanick struggled to hail a cab in Paris and dreamed of being able to call a ride from his smartphone

One way to uncover yours is to follow this 5-part framework from Expert Secrets:

***

1) Backstory

What’s your backstory? What gives us a vested interest in your journey?

2) Journey

What old vehicles have you tried & failed with? What villain is stopping you from succeeding?

3) New opportunity

Who was your guide? What epiphany did you have? What new opportunity did it lead to?

4) Framework

What is the strategy, product, or service you developed to achieve the result?

5) Achievement

What results did you achieve? How did you transform internally & externally?

***

If you’re struggling to market your business, start with this exercise.

Quote to ponder:

"Never assume because you put more time into something, it's getting better"

— Rick Rubin

A contrarian take on editing:

In many things, there’s a direct linear relationship between time spent working & quality.

Unfortunately, writing isn’t one of them.

So don’t let this logical fallacy keep you from hitting publish.

Especially when it comes to shorter-form content.

I’ve often found the less time I spend on an email or a piece of content, the better it performs.

And vice-versa.

When you smooth out all the rough edges, sometimes it erases all the emotional resonance from your piece too.

Editing is important.

But more isn’t always better.

That’s it.

Thanks for reading!

See you next time.

Jim Hamilton

Whenever you’re ready, here’s 2 ways I can help you:

  1. Follow me on LinkedIn: I share tips on how to launch, grow, and scale your email newsletter.

  2. Launch your email newsletter on Beehiiv: You’ll get a free 30-day trial, 20% off your first 3 months, and a 30-minute newsletter coaching call with me ($250 value) when you sign up for a paid plan.