Hypnotic writing: a beginner's guide

by simon on November 14, 2007

Relax, I’m not going to try to sell you an e-book. Or anything else for that matter.

Yes, wouldn’t it be amazing if you could get some real information about hypnotic writing, without all the hype and brouhaha?

UrsleepyizYou probably know that there’s such a thing as hypnotic writing, and you’re intelligent enough to know….

OK, I’ll stop it now. Above are just a few words and phrases which are important in the technique of hypnotic copywriting. But, I promise you, the rest of this post is going to be written in something approaching normal language (or as close as I can get, at any rate).

Hypnotic writing and copywriting does exist. Hypnosis does exist. Can you use hypnosis to get anything you want in life? I doubt it. Can you sell ice to eskimos with hypnotic writing? Nah, I don’t think so.

But can a knowledge of these ideas help your writing? Yes, I think it can.

What is hypnotic copywriting?

I first encountered the idea of hypnotic writing when a prospective client mentioned it on the phone. (I’m a professional copywriter by day, by the way. I only put on my super-blogger cape at idle moments). This client was keen to find a hypnotic copywriter.

There’s a reason why you sit of the PC all day but get nothing done.

I asked him what he thought hypnotic copywriting was all about and he gave a sort of summary. It all had to do with persuading people to do something using only the power of your words, concentrating on what your product or service could do for the listener and how it could solve their problems.

I said to him, in all honesty, that it just sounded like normal copywriting to me – what any copywriter would do.

But, nonetheless I went away to investigate, partly because I have a passing interest in hypnosis.

Now, there’s a lot of guff out there about hypnosis. It’s a real new-age loony mindfield. (By now you’re probably guessing that I’m a bit of a sceptic at heart).

But there is a scientific-ish basis for hypnosis, and people who practice it with integrity and truthfulness. I’m not about to discuss the whole subject here. But if you want to know more, this is a good place to start.

You could also check out information about Milton Erickson and neuro linguistic programming around the web. Wikipedia is, as always, as good a place to start as any.

Perhaps the key to understanding true hypnosis is that you can’t make anyone do anything against their will. So you can’t ‘force’ people to buy a product with hypnotic copywriting.

Hypnosis is normal

But hypnosis is all around us. It’s just a normal trance state that people drift into and out of many times during a normal day. There’s a hypnotic quality to watching television, reading a book and even sitting at a computer. (There, you see – there’s a reason why you sit of the PC all day but get nothing done…)

It’s even been said, and I’m inclined to believe it, that all real learning takes place in a hypnotic state. Hypnosis is how we learn.

Joe Vitale is the main guru of hypnotic writing and has written extensively on the subject. In particular he has a book called Hypnotic Writing: How to Seduce and Persuade Customers with Only Your Words in which he says:

“Hypnotic Writing is a form of waking hypnosis. This is not magical or mystical. It’s no different than being absorbed in a goodmovie. Or being riveted by a good book. Or driving down the highway for hours and being “zoned out.” In each instance you are in a waking trance.A waking trance is a concentration of attention.”

So once we discard the whole stage hypnosis, mind control shenanigans, we can start to view hypnosis as a natural state into which people are likely to drift many times a day.

I think it’s very common when people are out shopping going around the stores looking at things they could buy. Are these people hypnotised, even to small extent? They look it to me.

And what about reading a great novel, when you get totally immersed in the world the writer has created? This is a hypnotic state too.

Get your message across more successfully

The bottom line is this. it’s easier to persuade people of something when you get their guard down a little, by gently using a few hypnotic techniques.

A natural state into which people are likely to drift many times a day.

I don’t think you can exert control over somebody in this way and I wouldn’t want to. But you can get your message across more successfully by writing in ways that make people respond in a favourable way. Every writer does this, and many, many writers and others practice hypnotic techniques without ever knowing it.

So it’s not unethical, necessarily, though of course it all depends on how you use. But if I thought you could screw people over by hypnotising them into buying rubbish they don’t want, I wouldn’t be telling you about it and I wouldn’t use it myself.

So, on this blog I’m going to post a series of articles about the subject of hypnotic writing. This will, hopefully, build into a solid introduction to the subject. There are quite a few areas to look at. And I’m going to be sceptical too – as I believe you should be. But for now, take a quick tour of hypnosis here, and come back for the rest of the series, where, over time, we’ll find out more about how to use hypnotic writing to connect with our readers and improve our copy.

Photo credit: launceston_lad on flickr

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