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Hypnotic writing: a beginner’s guide

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

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Richard Baker November 29, 2007, 6:28 pm

    Intriguing stuff I’m rapt..

  • Simon December 1, 2007, 5:22 pm

    Thanks Richard. I am coming back to this subject soon – in more depth and with details….

  • matt felgate January 12, 2010, 10:24 pm

    I just wanted to drop you a line and let you know that I really have enjoyed your well-written articles. I have bookmarked this site and will definitely be checking back for new posts

  • James January 31, 2011, 2:26 pm

    Your article is right on track. I have found that normal people during the course of an hour their mental state changes about 4 times. The key to marketing online is to control that mental state.

    When they land on your web site you have no idea what their mental state is at the moment. But here is a good guess.

    The are looking for information, or they want to buy something. Last condition is, they could be bored.

    The trick is to get their attention. If you can change their mental state at will, you can make lots of sales.

    When I say change their mental state what I’m suggesting is something like flipping a person the bird (that is, give them the finger).

    Clearly, that will change their mental state. But please don’t use the finger analogy above. I used that to make a point.

    Find a way to stand in front of your traffic. Learn how to slip between those mental states. You can use a pop-in place of the finger.

    I have be successful using a footer ad to accomplished this task.

  • R27HCE March 24, 2011, 10:59 am

    You might want to start your research about NLP, conversational hypnosis and “hypnotic copywriting” here — http://www.skepdic.com/neurolin.html. Really good coverage of NLP new-agey mumbo jumbo, scientific community would be proud.

    Regarding hypnotic copywriting itself… well, much has been said about it, and every author had his own interpretation of what exactly word “hypnotic” means, where it begins, and where it ends. For some, the word refers to the clinically-induced state of lowered consciousness and higher suggestibility. For some, hypnotic state is any state where you get slightly dissociated from the rest of the surroundings, e.g. when you’re watching a movie. And then there’s that peculiar group that will tag every sudden shift in awareness as an individual hypnotic state.

    And all of that ultimately leads to the further bastardisation of the language, creating an atmosphere of uncertainty and confusion, what is especially conductive for their attempts to persuade you how it’s possible, how it happens daily to each of us, and how – if you’re serious about your success as a copywriter – you just have to master that vital skill, or you’ll be crushed by the masses who will become hypnotic writers and who will conquer the world with their writing.

    I still remain on the skeptic/agnostic side, I won’t make any claims about whether it works or not, but I’ll readily challenge everyone who claims that either of these option is correct, and ask them to prove their claims, not using some kind of irresistible hypnotic skills on me, but with rock-solid, well researched arguments.

    I’ve recently read Donald Moine and Kenneth Lloyd’s “Unlimited Selling Power – How To Master Hypnotic Selling Skills”, and have actually found some great tips inside (among the tons of unsubstantiated claims about hypnotism, and some things that just wouldn’t work in the real world)… but they weren’t really hypnotic by any formal definition of that term I’ve seen, they are just examples of the highly manipulative sales approach from the later half of the previous century, things like emotion elicitation, intensification and association, etc.

    Anyway, I like your blog, dude, there’s some solid info here. 🙂

    Stay sceptical,

  • Colin Henderson July 3, 2011, 6:35 pm

    Hey Simon,

    Solid advise, I’ve been researching and observing how hypnotic writing relates to the self hypnosis group and finding good results with my subscribers being able to use it to their advantage.


  • Psihoterapie Timisoara November 10, 2012, 9:29 pm

    I am playing with hypnotic copywriting without results for now but.. my list is really small. I guess I’ll I need to persuade people to subscribe to my mailing list first. 🙂