Copywriting tips from a Scottish mountaineer
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5 things a Scottish mountaineer can teach you about copywriting

mountain climbing and copywritingW.H. Murray was a Scottish mountaineer, author, and soldier who became a prisoner of war during World War II. He began writing to lessen the boredom and keep his mind active.

Paper was in short supply so he wrote the first draft of Mountaineering in Scotland on Red Cross toilet paper rolls. Unfortunately, a German officer confiscated that entire draft.

He completed the second draft by the end of the war in 1945, and two years later published the book.

After the war, he resumed mountain climbing and wrote another book, The Scottish Himalayan Expedition, both considered classics by enthusiasts. It chronicles the travels of four Scots trekking in Garhwal and Kumaon, part of northern India. He writes:

“But when I said that nothing had been done I erred in one important matter. We had definitely committed ourselves and were halfway out of our ruts. We had put down our passage money – booked a sailing to Bombay.

“This may sound too simple, but is great in consequence. Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness.

“Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves, too.”

Big commitments trigger big results

What Murray is saying is that when you’re not completely committed to something, it’s hard to make serious progress. He knew this, so he only bought a one-way ticket and made plans ahead of time to write about the expedition.

As copywriters, we can learn from Murray’s story of overcoming great odds to write his first book. And our quest has some analogies with his mountain climbing, too:

1. You need to establish a base camp. I consider AWAI’s Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting my “base camp.” It’s the foundation to build all your other skills upon, and I refer to mine weekly.

2. You need the proper tools to do the job right. Would a mountaineer attempt Everest with cheap equipment? Of course not. You shouldn’t either. Invest in the best tools (resources, programs, books, training) if you have big goals.

3. An expert guide can get you there quicker. My natural tendency is to do things alone, like Murray did in his early days of climbing. I’ve found that mentors, coaches, and trainers can help you reach higher peaks than you could on your own, though.

4. The higher you go, the better the view. As you move along in your copywriting business, the “view” gets better: better opportunities, increased pay, more recognition. Also, just like on a mountain, the higher you go, the lesser the competition.

5. When you fully commit to something, things start happening. I don’t know how to explain this one, but it’s worked in my life numerous times. Whether it was completing eight marathons, traveling around the world, or becoming a full-time freelance copywriter, when I’ve stepped forward and said, “I’m in,” it’s worked out.

Big commitments produce big results. Every time.

What mountains do you want to climb? What do you need to know to do it? Who might be able to help you? Are you committed?

I’d love to hear about it.

Steve Roller

Author Steve Roller

I'm a business coach, author, copywriter, world traveler (32 countries on five continents so far), and professional speaker. In addition to helping companies get more customers and make more money, I help other writers turn Big Ideas into profitable businesses. I offer one-on-one coaching, professional copy critiques, and three-day business-building immersion retreats. When I'm not writing, coaching, or speaking, I enjoy nothing more than hanging out with my wife and four kids and planning my next adventure.

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Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Alan says:

    Hi Steve, as humans we tend to complicate to process of moving beyond our comfort zone, often constructing our own roadblocks along the way. The 5 points speak smartly to simplifying how we should think about and tackle our bigger life goals. And certainly commitment plays an enormous role. The quote you cited from W.H. Murray was pure gold.

    • Steve Roller says:

      Thanks, Alan. That “On commitment” quote has always been one of my favorites. I think we do need to look at everything we do in terms of how it fits into the big picture. Best wishes in your climb upward!

  • I committed to my mountain, I said “I’m in, boots and all”.

    That’s why I’m climbing from struggling, in-debt chef to A-List Copywriter. Once you become clear on your decision, the universe has a funny way of lending a hand (Hey, I found the Copywriter Cafe didn’t I!)

    I’m always on the lookout for peer networking, mentors, and opportunites for growth.

    I’m committed to succeeding, and look forward to the day when I can quote Sir Ed’ (Sir Edmund Hillary) after he conquered Mt Everest…

    “Well George, we knocked the bastard off”

    • Steve Roller says:

      I love the Sir Edmund Hillary quote! I hadn’t heard that one before.

      It does become much easier when you make that commitment and put your blinders on to all the other possibilities. I look forward to toasting your success with you in person someday, Scott. Press on.

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