NYC Trip Insights (Day 2)

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Hey, it's André (w/ Shawn about three meters away hammering away on his laptop, trying to get into “flow”)…

Today we'll be sharing with you our insights from yesterday (Tuesday). We've made huge progress.

But first, if you missed our Day 1 email sent yesterday (perhaps because you've come in late), here is an archive of it.

Read Day 1 first. This email builds on from where we left off.

Yesterday was a good day (Shawn's notes about it below). But today has been harder to write. We've both struggled to get into a writing flow.

This happens. It's normal. You just have to push through it, keep writing, and see what happens.

Making progress with writing can be a lot of baby steps. It's very easy to stop, to tell yourself you'll try again tomorrow.

But that's not what a professional does. A pro keeps at it. An amateur calls it a day.

Yesterday we shared our first storyboard (from Monday), then hinted that everything had changed for Tuesday. Here is what our suite door looks like:

The storyboard at the bottom is what we had for Tuesday. The structure had changed. The two notepads of text were our analog outline, which we then expressed as the storyboard.

By the way: here's our kitchen area–

–a little over the top, I know. The weird coffee concoctions have been powering us along quite nicely.


I'll hand it off to Shawn now:

DAY 2: Shawn's note from (5:02 pm) Tue, Nov 26th, 2019

What a day…

We started writing early yesterday and quickly realized we weren't ready to write! Some ideas were clear. Others weren't.

There were big gaps in what I wanted to say, and many connections missing.

The writing just didn't feel right.

Dissonant, not resonant. (Thanks to my good friend and master marketer Jonathan Boyd for those terms.)

Our plan today was to each write a shitty first draft(*) to get something, anything, on the page to work with.

I planned to write my version long-hand (pencil and paper). However, by some miraculous flash of insight, the Muse arrived and saved the day.

The structure of the pre-sell site emerged as André and I discussed ideas.

I sketched that quickly on a Post it note and immediately went to work creating an outline to match the sketch.

André and I weren't sure how we'd actually write together. Neither of us has ever collaborated on a writing project.

We discussed some options, including writing two separate drafts then merging them together, one of us writing and the other person editing, splitting the work into parts, etc.

Credit where credit is due, André suggested that one of us write, save a new version of the document, then the other person would read the whole thing, and add / edit while the other person relaxed / recharged.

Tag-team writing. (I'm really looking forward to unpacking the ‘tag team writing' idea in the masterclass, including how we're going to use what we've learned when it's time to write alone. Those insights have been worth the entire trip for me.)

‘Tag team writing' sounds weird, but it was incredible!

I wrote the first 1,000 words, André edited and added another 1,000, I ‘polished' those 2,000 words to 1,600, and as I'm typing André is working on his next round.

The experience felt like improv where each person added something to the scene. “Yes, and…”

If I were you, I would be a little skeptical about my ‘sunshine and unicorns' portrayal.

What about our egos? We're both professional writers who care deeply about our craft — what happens when we (gasp!) disagree?

The honest answer is there is no ego, and that's the takeaway I'd like to leave you with today.

This isn't my work and it's not André's work — it's ours. And it's in service to a greater good (the person ultimately reading what we've written).

If we've done our work well, that person will have learned something interesting, seen the world through a different lens, had a positive “ah ha” experience. And the client will have a world-class happy-customer-generating asset.

More to follow tomorrow. It's (almost) time for a beer (again)…

(*) “Shitty First Draft” is Anne Lamott's term in her wonderful book Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life:

“Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something–anything–down on paper. A friend of mine says that the first draft is the down draft–you just get it down. The second draft is the up draft–you fix it up. You try to say what you have to say more accurately. And the third draft is the dental draft, where you check every tooth, to see if it's loose or cramped or decayed, or even, God help us, healthy.” — Anne Lamott

Before I wrap up, if you celebrate Thanksgiving, have a good one!

Shawn and I will be looking for a restaurant tomorrow to celebrate Thanksgiving together. 🥳

—André (and Shawn)

This experiment wraps up in two days (I'll be on a plane Friday), and next week Shawn and I will be working on our own again.

Knowing that — and knowing that many of you reading this also work on your own, we took some time this afternoon to recap the previous three days to find the most powerful insights to use when you're creating on your own.

We'll share those in tomorrow's email.

Quick question – what is the biggest sticking point in your creative process? (Hit reply to this email and let us know.)


I've had a handful of emails asking what filter I use for the “comic book” images I'm using. Here you go: it's all explained here.