My daughter and I love going to the Saturday Morning Market here in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Every visit is a new adventure in discovering the cool people doing cool stuff in our hometown.
Stuff that’s easy to lose sight of behind the growing walls of shiny new shops and breweries that’ve come to dominate our city over the last few years.
The Saturday Morning Market is the last bastion of a true craftsperson.
Real people, producing real things with their own hands, inspired by their personal connection to a poignant past, now relegated to four square blocks for six hours one day a week.
(Like the pickle maker guy whom, before being forced out of his location, lovingly recreated his grandfather’s sausage recipe to specification along with his grandmother’s secret mustard sauce for a one-of-a-kind flavor combo that delighted customers for years after their passing.)
People MAKING things and trading them for currency is the oldest form of business there is.
That includes people who make art.
In the photo below is Giovanni Cerro, known as Gios_Typos.
CAPTION: (Would you sit at a typewriter and “create on demand” for strangers on the street?)
At the market, he sets up his vintage typewriter and offers to write you a poem on any topic – pay whatever you want.
Think of him as a busker of words… the heady rhythm supplied by the sporadic “tick-tack” of his keys slapping the cylinder as he fills the backside of a paper map with lines about your topic.
My daughter chose the word “mushrooms”.
“Psychedelic mushrooms specifically? Or all mushrooms… fungi… mycelium?” Gio asked.
“Mycelium,” she replied casually. (A topic of fascination since watching the “Fantastic Fungi” documentary.)
As we stood at his table and watched Gio type.. then think… then type some more…
I thought of all the copywriters I know – especially the newer ones – who struggle asking for a critique of their copy.
Their hesitation is understandable, but not forgivable.
Because without critiques you cannot grow.
You cannot grow resilient.
You cannot grow a filter.
You cannot grow confident.
You cannot grow your value.
You cannot grow your business.
If you keep the words all to yourself, or wait until they are “good enough”, then you risk them never being read at all.
I believe that a hopeful writer becomes a true writer when they finally crave an honest critique.
That’s when they are finally committed to growing.
“Feeling judged” is normal as a writer because guess what: You ARE being judged.
In Direct Response your writing is either effective at compelling the reader to take action or it isn’t.
Not a lot of gray area there.
So, if you’ve been holding your words captive in a file somewhere (or worse, inside your head), it’s time to let them out.
Otherwise, you’re in danger of being the person who says “I always wanted to try that. But…”
You thought someone might not like it?
And that single incident would be a definite sign that you are a miserable failure of a writer?
You DO know the Stephen King railroad spike story, don’t you?
His first publisher rejection letter, he took a big ‘ol railroad spike and pinned the letter to the wall.
Every rejection letter after that, he would push onto the spike.
Eventually, he’d collected so many that the spike was full.
Not one more sliver of paper could fit onto that giant railroad spike.
“That’s when I knew,” he said, “I’d become a writer.”
Not in their head.
Not in a secret notebook.
Not with invisible ink.
They write to be read.
Good or bad.
Knowing they have ZERO control over the opinions of others.
Yet, trusting their determination, and grit, to filter the few useful notes from the mountain of troll shit and get back to typing.
Yes, I know you’re not Stephen King.
Good news, we’ve already got one of them, and they’ll always be the best at it.
So… let Gio be your inspiration.
The man sits out in the open with a ratty old typewriter, takes a topic from any stranger, riffs out a poem, reads it aloud to them (and everyone else within earshot), then hands them the rough looking draft.
Putting his soul on the line for what he hopes will be a “decent tip”.
If you’re thinking “I would rather die?”
Let me ask…
Does Gio look “dead” to you?
Or like he’s dying inside?
Does he look scared that someone might not like his off-the-cuff rhymey rant?
Or does he look like a guy who’s having fun with his craft and letting it be what it is, to the tune of a few hundred bucks on a lovely Saturday afternoon?
Here’s my favorite part…
Gio pops a sheet of carbon between a folded piece of vintage map paper before loading it into the typewriter.
When he’s done he tears the paper in half.
One for you, one for him.
Gio will someday publish the best of his “busking poems” as books.
Meaning he’ll be paid twice for work he did once.
Smiling big both times.
You don’t want to miss out on the fun.
P.S. Want a super fun and easy way to write copy fast? Go download my book The 60-Second Sales Hook. It’s a joke formula from my stand-up days, turned into a story hook formula you can deliver in 60 seconds or less. Fr** for you, too!