PI4MM19 Pt 2: Wrath of the Trickster God – A naked breakdown of John Carlton’s twisted writing process

Elements of Style

Dive deep into John’s twisted brain to find out what really goes on when he sits at a keyboard to write… whether it’s copy, fiction or just a simple Facebook post.


01:38 – The three writing styles that set a rhythm (just ask Mick Jagger)…

10:25 – How adjectives can confuse writers into thinking they’re writing something good…

14:05 – Who, What, When, Why & Jeff Buckley…

15:00 – Why John is still furious over one interview in The Red Dog Saloon documentary…

19:00 – John’s power words, usually verbs…

21:40 – “Write with nouns and verbs, not with adjectives and adverbs. The adjective hasn’t been built that can pull a weak or inaccurate noun out of a tight place.” — Elements of Style

24:53 – The lost art of letter writing in the modern digital age…

29:34 – The significance of simple, daily journaling to power your future public writing…

32:54 – Engage your mental-looping “off switch” so you can pump out a fast draft of raw gold…

35:00 – Why it’s so critical to get into The Flow…


12 thoughts on “PI4MM19 Pt 2: Wrath of the Trickster God – A naked breakdown of John Carlton’s twisted writing process

  1. Will

    The Process reminds me of a meat grinder.

    And I picture your Status Reports as Kirk on The Enterprise recording his Captain’s Log for some reason…

    I dunno why… maybe because you said your office was like the Bridge on a spaceship.

    1. John Carlton

      Yeah, when I was a kid — pre-Star Trek days — I feasted on twenty-year-old reruns of Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers serials (you can find them all on YouTube)… and my most fervent lust was to have control of my own little flying module. Didn’t need to go out into space — just buzz around the area would have done it for me. Whenever we got our hands on cardboard boxes (like the one the fridge arrived in), we turned it into a spaceship. That shit works when you’re an overly-creative kid, you know.

      This is also why I’m still royally pissed-off about not having flying cars yet. Dammit, we were promised flying cars by the 80s in the 50s-era Mechanics Illustrated mags I stole from my older brother.

      Meanwhile, putting the internal brain process into visuals like a bridge on a ship helps sort out the details. If you’re visual, I suppose. I’d have to hear from a math major as to how this imagery works with their type…

      1. Holly Lisle

        I, too, want flying cars. Until I think about the eighty-year-olds in South Florida who have lobbyists working to protect their right to drive without having to prove they still can…

        …and envisioning the carnage when they aren’t just killing folks on the roads, but dropping out of the sky on top of us.

  2. Idan

    Been waiting for this one, thanks guys.

    Actually the long dayz between this and the last
    Episode Led me to listen to all the episodes again.

    This in turn reminded me again how correct is the saying “Repetition is the mother of all skill”

    Even created a video to my 30k copywriters list
    In Israel talking about the 3 brains and why you
    Better use storytelling and provoke emotions in

    This podcast is my #1 podcast
    Thanks a lot for your time and effort.



    I’m holding Skype interviews with the world best copywriters to my mailing list and the local
    Marketers community ( Sugarman and
    Benson already participated), and would
    Be honored to do one with you guys.

    It’s pretty cool cause these interviews also
    Appear in Israels business academy, alongside
    our world class billionaires… and were
    Jewish, so we have a whole bunch of them 😉

    What to you guys think?

  3. Anthony

    Hi, FYI: I am trying to download Part 1 and Part 2 of the writing process interviews and keep getting a message stating “Video can’t be played because the file is corrupt.”

    I’d really LOVE to listen to these and gain insights into John’s process.

    1. Brian McLeod

      Sorry you’re having trouble accessing the files, Anthony.

      Sounds like your computer/browser may not be configured to handle M4A audio files correctly.

      Here’s a simple solution – VLC Media Player:

      That app can handle just about any kind of audio/video media file you might download. As a bonus, you can use it to speed up/slow down the playback so you can zoom through long episodes or go back, slow down, and take notes. Pretty handy…

      Brian McLeod, Publisher

  4. Judy Kettenhofen

    Am I the only one to notice the adjectives used in the sentence from Strunk & White decrying adjectives? 🙂
    Or do I need to go back to school and review what an adjective is? 🙂


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