Your heart pounds. Your stomach is in knots. You break out into a sweat: You’re panicked. But the good news is that sometimes that panic is actually good for you. How can you tell the difference? Read on…
Today’s question is from Terrell Q., who asks, “When I have a meeting or a project coming up, I lose it. I mean, I freak the F out. Do you have any advice?”
So, right off the bat, I want to cover the fact that this is going to get better. Part of the reason you’re panicking is that you’re still relatively new to copywriting. I remember that the first time I had to deliver copy in the same day (instead of the next day, as if I’d be working on it overnight or something), I lost it, too. Now, I can deliver copy in minutes without losing my cool.
For what it’s worth, this definitely will get better with time. But, beyond that, I want to dig a little deeper into the panic—because it may not be something you want to get rid of.
Panic is your primitive “fight or flight” instinct kicking in. Your heart starts pounding because you’re (physiologically) getting ready to destroy a mastodon or run from a mountain lion. But in both of those scenarios, what you get along with that heart pounding is laser-like focus. And you can direct that laser-like focus toward getting your work done. Go in a conference room, tune out all distractions, and write some kick-ass copy.
For some people, though, panic doesn’t make them want to run or fight; it paralyzes them. And that’s the scenario when it’s dangerous. If you find yourself sitting at your computer, and you can’t focus or move, you need to snap yourself out of it.
First, slow, deep breaths. In through the nose, out through the mouth. You need to get your brain some oxygen and force your heart to slow down.
Next: baby steps. Go back to basics. Open up a word doc. Go to your creative brief. Don’t try to write copy, just outline the elements you know need to be in this piece. What are the key points you need to convey? What are some words you might use? Don’t even try to organize it yet, just outline.
As you get deeper into your outline and then start fleshing out your copy, it’s likely that you’ll find the panic start to disperse. The very best way to fight paralysis is to get yourself to move by taking as tiny and easy of steps as possible.
The next time you get panicked, take a moment and evaluate it. Is it the good kind that’s going to focus you? If so, then go with it. Lean into the adrenaline. Or is it the bad kind of panic that’s going to try to paralyze you? If that’s the case, slowly but surely work through it.
Your turn! Have you felt panic before a project or meeting? Which kind and how did you deal with it? Let us know in the comments below!