"I hate writing. I love having written." Dorothy Parker
Most of us work on writing projects we love, related to subjects or themes we are excited about.
But there are times when we are compelled to undertake projects that we aren't excited about, can't lend our hearts to.
It could be a college assignment, a work-related writing task sanctioned by your superior.
The first thing we want to do when faced with such a situation is flee from the challenge. We try to delay working on the project although we know we have the knowledge to finish it. Finally we when deadline day is around the corner or we receive reminders as to the completion of the task at hand, we force ourselves to sit down and finish it, grumbling and fighting resistance.
The feeling that accompanies us at this juncture is 'let's finish it and get it out of the way' and hope another similar project doesn't turn up for good.
Hoping another project doesn't turn up for good? That's unlikely to happen. There will always be projects where you can't put your heart into.
So, instead of fretting and complaining let's find a way out so that we can eliminate our resentment and anxiety plus the guilt of avoiding it.
Recently, I was asked to write a business plan for my company. When the project was explained to me, my heart reacted in a negative way to it. That's not my cup of tea. I love writing stories and articles and ebooks that inspire and instruct.
But previous experience told me that the way my heart reacts counts for nothing. The work has still got to be delivered.
Here are some techniques I used to get started and finish the project.
Zero Thinking. Clearing the Mind
Chances are you're resenting working on it because of a previous unpleasant experience working on a similar project. If you sense such a thought creeping in, shoot it down immediately. Imagine this is the first time you're working on it and you can do it. Your previous experience doesn't count here.
If I find that I can't avoid thinking about it, I tell myself that, it's no big deal because I've successfully handled much more 'boring' projects before. So, why worry when you have the experience?
Show Up as Soon as Possible and Dive In
To avoid thinking about the project and make negative thoughts rub salt into my lack of interest and give rise to procrastination, I immediately opened Google Doc and started writing down the brief and put down the main headings of the business plan.
It took me less than an hour and I knew I don't have to tackle the issue of getting started.
I've started the engine and only thing I need to do is keep it running. My target now - to fill up the first heading in the next writing session.
I don't have to worry about getting started.
Moral: Deliver the First Blow Soonest.
Focus on the Benefits Rather Than Your Lack of Interest
Look at the Positive Aspects of Working on the Project.
Even if you can't see any benefit of working on the project, take out a sheet of paper and start listing the benefits.
When I started running through the benefits of writing a business plan, here's what I came up with:
a) Writing the business plan will give me writing practice, which is important to develop as a writer. This benefit itself reduced the resentment I had for the project by 50%.
b) I would learn how to write a business plan, which would come handy later. It could be part of my writing services. Future income opportunity.
c) I would learn some useful business terms which would come handy someday when I'm writing on a business subject. My belief is that nothing learned is ever wasted. It will serve its purpose one day. Never mind if it's five or ten years later.
d) I may need this knowledge in future if I plan to open a business and need to write a business plan.
e) Writing a business plan will help develop the entrepreneur side of me instead of leaning heavily towards the artistic side. It will give me a new perspective in my effort to earn a living online.
f) Opportunity to write in a different tone and style - Writing how-to articles and stories call for a different style and tone. A business plan will definitely call for a different style and this will help me improve my versatility as a writer.
Focus on the Language Instead of the Subject
I also treated the assignment as an opportunity to use words and phrases I may not have previously used in other projects. While reading, I mentally pick up and also jot down 'power words' and phrases which I don't usually get the opportunity to use on some writing projects.
So, I hoped this writing project will give me the opportunity to have my subconscious throw such power words and phrases on to the page, maybe some nice phrasal verbs or idioms and such.
Now, running all these thoughts through my mind, I come to the conclusion that the benefits of working on the project far outweigh the one reason I have for not starting - my dislike of the subject.
I hope the next time you're faced with a writing project your heart rejects, try to look at the other side of the coin.
Don't be surprised that you'll end up feeling ashamed of yourself for not starting on the project and enjoying the numerous benefits waiting for you.
Have you ever handled a writing project which didn't appeal to your heart? How did you manage to complete it?