How to Unlock Productivity

Last year I wrote a thread on X about the writing rhythms of three of the greats: Tarantino, Hemingway, and Bukowski. These three writers were interesting to me. They didn’t have rigid timetables. But they did have backdoor ways of generating productive work sessions. Instead of following a strict schedule, they dipped in and out of a state that people call “flow.”

They’d write, then recharge.

They’d reap, then they’d sow.

As mercurial as this sounds, as obsessive and committed and focused as great writers appear from afar, the good news is anyone can do this.

Give or take.

I think the one caveat is that to be a great writer you have to love reading and writing and you have to do both every day.

The bad?

The 21st Century does not naturally support flow states. So the tragedy is that you can spend your entire career operating on the cusp of creativity. We are tied, like Pavlovian dogs, to devices. Dopaminergic dingles are strong.

If you’re a copywriter, does the following sound familiar?

Your most productive states come only when the stakes are highest, when the deadline is closing in, and when necessity has replaced ingenuity.

But you should know your brain is resourceful and coachable and an absolute BEAST just waiting to be unleashed under the right conditions.

If you prefer not to be smothered by the slavering maw of AI in the next ten years? The thing that’s going to save you is getting good at learning, creativity, and productivity. I’m going to describe the best way to do that for most people. It’s simple and elegant and insanely powerful.

I think you’ll be glad you opened this newsletter.

How to Get Into Flow

You know that saying, “Nothing tastes as good as being in shape feels?”

I agree with this (with the occasional exception like a nice bowl of custard.)

But the exciting thing if you’ve never had a “flow habit” is that once you start cranking out copy at an accelerated rate, you will never want to go back to the struggle.

Writing copy at speed, on-demand, every day of the week feels better than a diet of distraction and lukewarm writing sessions.

I’m going to describe what to do now.

You are going to be disappointed and unimpressed.

Then I am going to add the nuance everyone else forgets that makes it actually work.

You can decide for yourself if it’s something you are going to experiment with.

Here’s what to do:

Wake up and get to work.

How to Prepare for Flow

Yes, I’ve just dropped a class-A productivity cliché.

But before you dismiss it outright ask yourself two questions:

  1. Can you currently access flow every day of the week?
  2. Have you actually tried this the way I lay out below?

So as Jennifer Anniston used to say with a flick of her hair in 90s television ads for L’Oreal . . .

“Here comes the science bit!”

Plan the night before. It’s important you give your brain the opportunity to work on the task while you’re asleep. This means that any research you need to do should already be done when you sit down to write. So, outline your task, do the research, prep the page and have a clear goal. For example, “write 16 headlines and the lead.”

Get straight to it. The shorter the period between you waking up and starting to type, the better. No snoozing, no brewing coffee, no meditating, none of that. The aim of the game is to carry your brain from the pillow to your computer with minimal inputs and start typing as soon as possible.

At first, your brain will resist. You have to overcome the initial pushback and get used to the situation without succumbing to distraction. You have to fight for control over your psychic energy. In The War of Art, Stephen Pressfield calls this “The Resistance.” It is real and a true goblin. I write in Apple Notes or Ulysses instead of a Google Doc to avoid the temptation to quickly look something up. If you do that, you lose.

A final warning before you start experimenting:

This is not simply a cognitive “hack.” It is not enough to know conceptually that this works. There is a cost attached and that cost is commitment of emotion and will.

You must practice and apply consistency to the discipline.

But when you do, it comes with economies of scale. You are writing copy according to molecular doctrine and the laws of the universe.

This post?

I got up at 05:30 on Monday morning.

I splashed my face with water.

Then I walked over to my laptop on the kitchen table, opened it with the Apple Notes app already on the screen, blinked twice and started typing.

It took 22 minutes.

P.S.P. French


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The Best Research Method

One of my favorite copywriting trainings was written by Ben Settle a few years ago. I doubt it’s possible to get your hands on it anymore, but it was a hysterical rant about how some clients wanted to “test” all sorts of new angles by mining “data” and using schnazzy software.

Instead, Ben used his own research method.

He found someone in the market, asked them about their problems, wrote a headline based on what they said . . . and it sold like gangbusters!

“So simple, it’s almost insane.”

In my time copywriting, this has proven true. The quickest way to understand what your audience wants – BY FAR – is to ask them.

Now, the nuance.

There are two main ways to keep tabs on markets. 

What people say when they are non-anonymous. 

What people say when they are anonymous. 


“People don’t think what they feel, they don’t say what they think, and they don’t do what they say.”

David Ogilvy

Non-anonymous: request regular delivery of reviews, interviews and testimonials from your client. Here you are ASKING.

Anonymous: follow your target market to forums such as Reddit where people talk freely. You will find acute details about specific problems expressed with pain and passion. Here you are OBSERVING.

They won’t always match up, so you have to do both. 

My one-two punch?

Set up calls with 2-3 people in the market as your initial research. Then look at Reddit, forums, and social media groups for the juicy details that can make good copy great.

P.S.P. French

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The Secret of the World’s Highest-Paid Copywriter

A few months ago, I was reading an interview with Dan Kennedy, the highest-paid copywriter working in the world today.

The man is prolific.

But he’s not a prolific copywriter because he’s got a big team working for him or because he uses his reputation to bring in client work which he then farms out to minions.

He doesn’t even have internet access at home.

-->> Unlock Productivity

The real reason Dan earns more than anyone else is because he can write faster than anyone else.

This means he can take on more projects, write more books, produce more newsletters, develop more home study courses… as well as manage a 7-figure consulting business.

But HOW does he do this?

Dan wrote a book called My Unfinished Business.

Here’s a quote:

“If you can’t control your thoughts and manage your mind, you can’t control or manage your time.”

Dan Kennedy

In other words, you need to be able to focus.

Focus is at a premium these days.

Facebook, Twitter (Now X), and Instagram have the best behavioral scientists in the world on their payroll.

They are incentivized to PROGRAM addiction and distraction into the software you use every day.

So to succeed in this world, you have to fight back.

And in your fight against the evil tech overlords, I am going to give you one tip.

One thing that I have been using to help me get more done than I ever have before.

And in much less time.

And it’s something that you can start using as early as TODAY.

It gives me extra productivity, creative energy, and concentration.

Not to mention a beautiful boost in mood, sense of well-being, and motivation.

Before I tell you what it is….

You should know that I only recommend products that have actually CHANGED MY LIFE.

It’s an app called Brain FM.

You get a 2-week FREE trial.

After that, it’s 7 bucks a month. And if you can’t use that $7 investment in your focus to earn yourself another $70, $700, or even $7000 a month, then you’re doing this whole online business thing wrong.

There’s no affiliate link.

I’m not making money here.

This is a PURE recommendation.

Just tap it into Google and away you go.

If you want to read some more thoughts on focus on productivity, I've put them together here. 

P.S.P French

33 Profitable Nuggets of Copywriting Advice

Don’t write the way you talk, write the way your prospect talks.

Your competition rests on the weekend.

Read Profit First.

Include a bitcoin address on your invoices.

Respect comes from results.

Use Chrome extensions ColorZilla & Fontanello to give proposals the same vibe as your prospect’s website.

Don’t call them proposals, call them action plans.

Take a break if you need a breakthrough.

Learn from the all-time giants, not the latest gurus.

David Ogilvy is your north star.

To write better than others, you have to WANT to write better than others.

Buy your clients random gifts.

Work to a timer.

Little tweaks make a big difference.

Black coffee with a green tea chaser is a great drop.

You will outgrow some clients.

Benefit + Curiosity is the only copywriting formula worth remembering.

Have a deliberate practice.

Surveys are your friend.

Leverage your subconscious to work 24/7.

Filing copy dopamine > push notification dopamine.

Know your hourly rate (tell no one).

DR copywriting isn’t about writing, it’s about making offers.

Keep track of where your clients come from.

Trending on YouTube & Medium are great for inhaling pre-validated hooks.

Be wary of ‘of’: often an opportunity to tighten your phrasing.

Have your own list + keep it warm.

Buy and use a printer.

Watch Succession on HBO.

Read Resonate by Nancy Duarte.

Quality is its own reward.

Defend what you’ve written.

Don’t be nice. Be cool, be excellent & be gone.

P.S.P. French

Copywriting Year One

In my first year freelancing, I read 15 books, bought 3 courses, signed 14 clients and made $107k…. here are my 11 rules.

There’s no need to “be ready.” Stop spinning your wheels, release the brakes, ignore fear and learn your lessons as you go.

Avoid project work. You can eliminate the early anxiety around the “feast and famine” of freelancing by focusing on retainer-based offers. Get some work, gain some confidence, stack some cash.

The most important skill isn’t getting clients, it’s keeping them.

The “best niche” exists at the intersection of work you enjoy doing and who has money. The short answer to “who has money?” is rich guys and B2B.

There are two dimensions to the game: your ability to position yourself and your copywriting skill level. Progress stalls if you secretly favor working on one over the other.

Don’t get memed into thinking hand-copying sales letters and ads isn’t the greatest thing you can do to improve your skill level.

Clients aren’t looking for years of experience or fancy credentials. They’re just looking for a high-quality sample of something similar to what they need.

If you can summon “flow” every day, you are never going to struggle.

As Twitter’s greatest teacher @abrasivisms hammered home to me, direct response is more about making offers than writing copy.

There is a not-insignificant percentage of your overall annual effort that should be spent meditating on how to best procure and promote results-based testimonials for your work.

The barrier to entry is so low and the demand so high that it’s easy just to drift around and make a good living. You have to desire to grow and expand your powers, woo bigger clients, kill others, work on bolder campaigns, risk failure to meet with glory.

P.S.P. French