How to rip words to pieces and spill out their guts


Gross. Why should you give a rat’s rear The word "words" breaking into pieces with blood coming out of it

I know, it’s off-putting. But I’d like to share what I’ve been learning as a copywriter.

And I’m just going to skip a long intro and jump right into my wild idea. Let me start by asking a question.

What are words?

Good question, right? Well, let’s see…they’re linguistic expressions. And they’re not real things, in the sense they’re not real human experience. Take the word “experience,” for instance. It’s not actual…experience. It just tells you to think about the concept of “experience” when you read the word. So, words merely convey past experiences you’ve had.

Experience and the words we express those experiences by are two separate entities.

For example, take the word “worry.” What is the word, “worry”? Nothing, right? It’s just 4 linguistic symbols, constructed into a 5-letter word to convey something we experience.

Therefore, words don’t equal experience. They’re signposts for experience.

Now let’s go on a hypnotic journey and shred up the word “worry” together…

Imagine the word “worry” in your head. Do it. Do you have a picture of it in your head right now?

Now, imagine a hand coming up behind the word “worry.” In that hand is a jagged kitchen knife. Can you picture it?

Suddenly, make the knife come down on the word “worry.”

Imagine “worry” splintering to pieces…

…and out of the word “worry” explodes images of anxiety and dread from your past, as if your horrible experiencing are playing back to you in a cinematic flashback.

What do you see?

Watch it for a while.

Really, what do you see? And, what do you hear?

Better yet, what do you smell?

What can you reach out and touch, grab, smack over the head, shove out of your way, run away from?

It’s okay, we won’t stay here too long.

Now, imagine all of those shredded pieces of the word “worry” floating back into place…

…and letters form…

…while the cuts and rips in the text bleed back together…

…and what you’re left with is the word “worry” again, and the anxious flashback you saw in front of you disappears completely.

But then, the word pulsates a bit, threatening to shatter again, hardly holding all those moments of negative experience contained inside itself.

Do you see what you just did?

And did you notice how I didn’t tell you what to see, hear, smell, or touch, but chances are you saw a lot of things you’d rather not think about?

Those flashbacks you just had are the experience behind the word “worry.” And chances are your readers have similar experiences contained inside their own “worry.”

So words don’t equal experiences, but…

…they do activate memories that are associated with that word.

A word is the shell of an egg. The memory that very same word activates is the yolk.

A word is the outer walls of your house. The memory that very same word activates is the space inside your living room.

A word is a painting. The memory that very same word activates is the artist’s process.

You get it. Now imagine your own metaphor:

A word is ________. The memory that very same word activates is ________.

It’s so important to recognize the experience behind words.

When you write a word like “worry,” just be aware — as a good writer — that it’s not the word itself that “does the work.”

It’s the experiences trapped inside the readers brain that you need to pay attention to.

I suspect that when you go back to write, you’ll see your copy explode before your eyes, activating the experiences those words convey. This is good. This is very good.

When you write to activate experiences, instead of just showing the world what a creative vocabulary you have, your writing becomes reader-centered, leading your consumer down a psychological, sensory path, instead of them thinking about what a great writer you probably think you are.

Now it’s your turn to hold the knife.

What words will you murder to see the experiences that lurk behind them? How will you use your new understandings about these words to evolve your writing style?

Animate your Copykiller, friends.


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