Almost 30 years ago I went to work for a Hall of Famer, Ron Rosenfeld, who co-ran a hot mid-sized shop in New York. Ron was, perhaps, the most awarded copywriter of the 60s. Reputedly the first copywriter to earn $100k.
I got to work with him, closely, and I expected pure, unalloyed genius to come flowing from his orifices.
Instead, what I heard was 80% drivel, 15% passable, 5% good.
About the same as you'd get from any copywriter or art director.
Sometimes you'd get from him 100% drivel.
Over the 20 months I stayed at this agency, I got friendly with an old-timer who sat in the office next to mine. One night, late, I asked the old-timer what had happened to Ron. Why was he so, well, mediocre?
The answer I got was this:
When Ron worked for Bill Bernbach, he would write 100 lines. Bernbach would circle the three stellar ones and say, "sell those."
Ron, at this point in his career, didn't have the strength or will to write 100 lines anymore. He just wrote three.
He got bad because he stopped working as hard as he needed to.
A lesson to remember.