“Back in the day” I taught a copywriting course at the University of Oregon. I was teaching there at the same time as the inimitable Jelly Helm, and hope none of my students were not too disappointed when they found out the real genius was just down the hall. In any case, one of my favorite texts was Hey Whipple, Squeeze This by Luke Sullivan. As those with pants below their butts say, Luke is the sh*t.

I might delete that.

Point is, studying Whipple and following Luke, I got the students to understand a little about the CRAFT of writing. Because, as Luke describes himself, he’s a writer by trade.

What’s by trade got to do with it? Well, writing consistently well is not magic, it’s hard work. Luke is a singularly talented writer who, by his own admission, sucked in the beginning.

How did he overcome his suckitude? Like any artist, he listened, he learned, he paid his dues and wrote until the garbage was flushed out.

Read Luke here:

  1. “Study the masters. Immerse yourself in their work over and over again until you have it memorized.
  2. Surround yourself with people who are better than you are.
  3. Don’t waste time defending your early efforts. Just shut up and listen to your teachers.
  4. Stay humble.
  5. Stay hungry.

Sooner or later you’ll produce something that looks like the work you’ve been studying and admiring. Like Ray Bradbury, one day you’ll lean back and realize, wow, all that work, it’s starting to pay off.” (Luke wrote this as a paragraph, you’ll see).


~Christopher Smith