Gene Schwartz’s 33-minute Secret

Get a kitchen timer and put it on your desk.

Set it for 33 minutes. Now start writing.

Write anything.  Just fill the page.

If you can’t write, then sit there and stare until you start sweating blood.

Here’s what copywriter Gene Schwartz, who’s credited with this idea, used to tell other writers about this technique:

“When I press the start button, I can do anything I want. All willpower is dissolved. I can do anything as long as it relates to the piece of copy in front of me. I can ignore it. I don’t have to touch it. I don’t have to look at it. But I can’t get up from the desk, and I can’t do anything except ignore or relate to the piece of copy…

“So finally, after a good deal of looking around… I get bored. So what do I do? I start reading down the copy! As I start reading down the copy, a phrase says to me, ‘Oh, hey, aren’t I beautiful? Why don’t you pull me out and put me on top?’ Or, ‘Why don’t you change this phraseology? It’s extremely ineptly put’…  What happens is that I begin to get into it.  Within about five minutes I am working…”

I’ve tried this before (I have a downloaded software “timer” on my desktop, pre-set to 33 minutes). Not once has it failed to get me started.  Not once have I been able to stop after the buzzer rings.

Here’s another trick to help you get or at least keep your writing momentum.

At the end of a day, resist the urge to continue until you hit a natural stopping point. Instead, stop in mid-thought, mid-page, even mid-sentence.  Why?  Two reasons.  First, because it sets up your subconscious up to work out copy challenges overnight.  Second, because the following morning, you’ll actually find it much easier to get right back into the text and get started all over again.

And with that, I’ll…



  1. Thanks for the tip from Eugene … will be trying right now. I’ve been sitting on an idea for a letter for a couple of days but just cant get started (or restarted). 33 minutes (and stopping mid-sentence) — here I come!

  2. Doing this working 33 minutes hard then restfully restfully is the Big Key enacting the mind for plowing through creative copywriting to any and all triumphant finishes!….Victor Carroll

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