You'd think that after years of writing something as banal as a sales letter, you'd have it down to a science. You'd be wrong. In Secrets of a Freelance Writer, Bob Bly tells how his very first sales letter, the one he used to launch his career, garnered a respectable 7% response rate.
That's a daunting thought to me, especially as I've sent out 15 proposals this week to complete strangers. That's 25 chances to explain why it is that I offer a better service than the next writer in the Inbox, and 25 chances to fall flat.
Years of exposure and experience trying new things, seeing what works, and refining your technique can take you a long way in writing. But in the end, you still need that touch of inspiration to take you over the top. I'm a much better writer than I was 7 years ago. Even on my worst day I can bang out a pretty credible piece of content.
Nevertheless, every now and then I still write something that surprises me. That's inspiration at work. I'd like to think that after my 100th or 1000th sales letter I'll know everything there is to know, but I won't.
Because inspiration is what helps you learn. It's what happens when you brain puts things together, takes a leap, sees a patter it's never seen before. Just look at Bob Bly's blog. He's been doing this for 20 years, and he's still asking questions.