"Can't" write - here's how to get over it

Services for Real Estate Pros with Marte Cliff Copywriting

So many of the agents I speak with say they know they should be blogging, but they “can’t write.” They don’t know how to put a sentence together to make it interesting.

If you’re lurking here at Active Rain and thinking you wish you could blog, but just don’t know how to write something good, try a learning method used by copywriters across the world...

It's one of the first exercises I did when I began studying copywriting, and it was an exercise I resisted because it was, truthfully, downright boring.

But... the book said it was important, so I did it anyway.

What was the exercise?writing by hand

Copying effective marketing letters. By hand. Twice.

Along with the textbook, each AWAI student receives a fat book filled with successful direct mail promotions. You've probably seen some of the letters that were in that book, because some of them have remained in use, making money for their companies for years.

One that comes to mind is the Wall Street Journal letter about two young men who started out equally, but one met great success while the other didn’t. The difference, of course, was that the successful one read the WSJ. It’s a prime example of a letter that gets results.

But back to the exercise…

The reason behind it is something called "written structural priming." It's similar to an athlete practicing specific moves over and over. Physical repetition builds up what's called "muscle memory."

Copying good writing builds up "written muscle memory."

I read that there are more than 500 academic research papers supporting the belief that this practice is effective in teaching people to write well.

So what does this have to do with you blogging?

If you want to learn to write for your blog, find a few posts that hold your interest and convey good information, and copy them by hand. If you aren’t sure which to choose, look for featured posts and posts that have a great number of comments.

(By the way, even some of the most popular posts have typos or mis-used words, so do be careful not to copy the errors!)

Before you wonder, yes it does have to be hand writing - not typing - and not just reading them several times. The effectiveness has something mysterious to do with your brain interpreting the words, sending the signals to your fingers, forming the letters, etc.

Do it again and again until the form and sentence structure begin to feel natural - and at the same time, keep practicing writing your own original material.

Image courtesy of punsayaporn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Before long, you can be a top blogger!




Re-Blogged 2 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
Real Estate Sales and Marketing
effective blogging
learn to write
writing exercise

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Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Hi Marte- there must be something to it so why not give it a try.  I've not tried that but what I have found is that reading the words of others seems to help me with words patterns in my own head. That probably doesn't make sense but it did when i wrote it. LOL

Jan 14, 2017 10:34 AM #45
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Sure it makes sense Kathy Streib - Many writers believe that the more you read, the better you write.

Jan 14, 2017 10:50 AM #46
Hannah Williams
Re/Max Eastern inc. - Philadelphia, PA
Expertise NE Philadelphia & Bucks 215-953-8818

Great advice Marte Cliff  as always

Jan 14, 2017 11:25 AM #47
Diana Dahlberg
1 Month Realty - Pleasant Prairie, WI
Real Estate in Kenosha, WI since 1994 262-308-3563

Hello Marte Cliff ... very interesting post and a valuable piece of information for those of us who struggle with the blogging function today.  I have to agree that writing things down makes sense in many areas ... taking notes even when at an event ... hearing, seeing and writing it down -- really valuable for retaining information.  I will be trying this and see how it helps me with my blogging block. 

Jan 14, 2017 11:35 AM #48
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667 (MT), 914-419-0270 (NY), Broker in NY with Grand Lux Realty and in MT with (coming soon!) - Kalispell, MT
The House Kat

This is a great idea to jump start people who think they can't write. 

Jan 14, 2017 12:50 PM #49
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Marte, I hadn't heard of this when I was struggling with writing, but it sure makes sense!  

Jan 14, 2017 03:28 PM #50
Debe Maxwell, CRS
www.iCharlotteHomes.com | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
Charlotte Homes for Sale - Charlotte Neighborhoods

VERY interesting, Marte Cliff - I never knew this but, it does make perfect sense. I'm rarely at a loss for anything to write but, on the rare occasion, the bug hits me too!

Enjoy your weekend, Marte!

Jan 14, 2017 06:03 PM #51
Thomas J. Nelson, Realtor, ePRO, CRS, RCS-D
Big Block Realty 858.232.8722 - La Jolla, CA
& Host of Postcards From Success Podcast

I do think you have to have a passion for writing to start-some interest in it in order to do it cosistently and a bit of audacity to assume others want to read it. Its scientifically proven that we learn best through repetition and putting pen to paper when taking notes. I started blogging by doing book reports. I'd simply read a book, take hand written bullet point notes and then type up a summary of my notes. These became my Nelson Notes posts. The exercise in writing book reports trained me to then tell stories or share thoughts in a smei-poetic way. This then lead to me being polarizing in stepping out of my comfort zone to write my opinion posts.

Jan 15, 2017 07:51 AM #52
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg IL Real Estate

It's true for goal setting. It's something that makes pen & hand stick.

Jan 15, 2017 01:36 PM #53
Kathryn Acciari
Century 21 Real Estate - Shrewsbury, MA
Brand Ambassador and Business Coach

Fascinating concept, Marte. I have long believed that the more physical, the more motion involved in an action, the higher the chance for memorization. Your article underscores that. 

Jan 15, 2017 06:23 PM #54
Greg Mona
Faira Homes Corp - Scottsdale, AZ
Real Estate in the 21st Century!

Great post Marte Cliff!  I, like many others have posted, had never heard of this exercise. In my case I actually love to write, but easily find excuses not to.  Strange, I know, and I'm hoping to change that in this calendar year and beyond. 

Jan 16, 2017 07:35 AM #55
Martha Gomez
Houston, TX
Realty ONE Group

Great information.  Thank you!

Jan 16, 2017 01:10 PM #56
Patricia Okenica

Once more...you have hit the nail on the head Marte! Thanks for your constant nudging!!

Jan 16, 2017 05:46 PM #57
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

Very practical advice!  I feel like I can write an OK blog...if I spent more time on them, they would improve!  Just don't have the natural gift of writing.

Jan 16, 2017 06:22 PM #58
Chris Fosgate
Keller Williams - Kansas City, MO
Assistant Team Leader - Keller Williams, KC North

Wonderful words of wisdom. Thanks so much for sharing. I will try this and see how it goes.

Jan 16, 2017 08:38 PM #59
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

So glad I saved this one to read.  We all could learn a lesson from your post. Hand writing has pretty much gone by the wayside, so seeing this and the learning that takes place is actually refreshing!  Besides, we all know cursive writing is going away - not!

Jan 21, 2017 08:08 AM #60
Debbie Reynolds
Platinum Properties - Clarksville, TN
Your Dedicated Clarksville TN Real Estate Agent

You have provided us a good lesson in learning to write. Practice helps tremendously and letting it rest and going back to read again helps us find structural problems and misspellings. Getting in too big a hurry is the main cause for errors and missing the mark.

Jan 22, 2017 12:57 PM #61
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

This is a very interesting idea and I am sure that it would do wonders for folks. I know that in my own life, i have to write something down for it to stick in my brain.  I think I have a better idea why after reading this post.

Jan 22, 2017 02:15 PM #62
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • Green • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA

I actually like writing and online socializing, even I do not have probably strong writing skills:) But I try.

Jan 22, 2017 11:55 PM #63
Tony and Suzanne Marriott, Associate Brokers
Haven Express @ Keller Williams Arizona Realty - Scottsdale, AZ
Serving Scottsdale, Phoenix and Maricopa County AZ

Marte Cliff "The reason behind it is something called "written structural priming." It's similar to an athlete practicing specific moves over and over. Physical repetition builds up what's called "muscle memory.""

Right on target - and - re-blog!

Dec 23, 2017 04:18 AM #64
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