Freelance Writing Jobs You’re Not Feeling: 3 Tips for Getting Through the Clunkers


Five or six years ago, I wrote a bunch of articles for a construction website. I probably don’t need to tell you I know nothing about the construction. The client paid well and they gave me plenty of material for research, but the work was dull, dull, dull. I perservered though it was one of the most boring freelance writing jobs I took on, ever. Many freelance writers are at a point in their career when they can pick and choose projects. However, plenty can’t afford to be so choosy.

This post is for them.

What happens when you’re not feeling a job and it seems to take an eternity to get through? The obvious answer is to plod on through and continue to give it your all, but that’s not really helpful, is it? Besides, if you want clients to recommend you to other potential client, seek you out for more rosy opportunities, and even agree to a pay raise, you can’t turn in lackluster work.

1. Worst is First

When I have projects I’m not feeling, I usually put those first. Knowing I have other work to get to encourages me to get it down. Also, the promise of a more attractive task is a beacon of light during a rather dismal moment. I don’t know if this is the same for you, but I’m less likely to procrastinate if I know I have other projects looming. Plus, once the worst is over, I know it’s easy coasting for the rest of the day.

2. Keep Your Eye on the Prize

Why did you take this project in the first place? Is it because of a byline or a paycheck? Is it because it’s a good opportunity that will help to pave the way for other good opportunities?  Reminding yourself of the reasons behind the gig can serve as a motivator.

3. Plan a Reward

Reward yourself for completing an unattractive task. Enjoy a few chapters of a good book or sit out on the back deck and savor a cup of premium coffee. Buy a new song from iTunes or watch some guilt free TV. Rewarding yourself beyond the monetary compensation will help you get to the end.

Just because you’re not feeling a freelance writing job, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t get your best effort

We all take on freelance writing jobs we don’t dig, but again, that’s not our clients’ fault. Every gig we take on deserves our absolute best effort. Maybe if you find the topic boring, others will too. Think about ways you can spice it up and make it more interesting. Go beyond the usual Google search and see what kind of interesting facts or anecdotes to add in. Find a fun story or interview a person of interest. You have the power to make a dull topic something fun or discussion-worthy. The question is, are you up to the task?

How do you take a topic you’re not into and make it your own? What are your tips for getting  through the dull gigs? I’d love to learn your thoughts in the comments.


10 responses
  1. Dean Rieck Avatar

    I have to admit that this has never happened to me. There are jobs I don’t enjoy for various reasons, but never because the subject matter was boring. Maybe I’m just weird, but I can get interested in any subject. That’s part of what I like about freelancing … lots of variety and learning about new things.

    The mark of a pro, and you proved this by getting through the construction project, is giving 100% and turning out good work no matter how you feel about it.

    BTW, I’m really enjoying your blog. You have tons of great material here and I get the feeling you’re doing more than blogging; you’re really trying to help your fellow writers.

    1. Deb Ng Avatar

      Thanks Dean, for your thoughts, support and kind words. Kudos to you for being able to tackle every project with enthusiasm. If you ever land a project you’re not feeling, I hope you’ll come back and tell us – I’m curious as to where your cut off point is.

      Professionalism is always the key, whether you enjoy a project or not, whether it pays a lot of money…or not, we have to give each job our best effort.

  2. Kate Collings Avatar

    I wish I could get to the point of having lots of freelance jobs to say whether one would be more appealing than another.

    Right now I am writing a monthly article for a local magazine but the work is unpaid. Although I realise that this is a great way to ‘break into’ the business I also realise that it is extreamly tireing, in the emotional sense!

    I am researching every day and sending pitches to various companies.
    So how would one ‘break’ over that threshold of being an unpaid freelance writer?

    Any replies warmly welcom:

    1. Deb Ng Avatar

      Kate, you wrote : “So how would one ‘break’ over that threshold of being an unpaid freelance writer?”

      It’s simple. Stop accepting non payers. Most brand new freelance writers begin with paying projects and they’re not so difficult to find. However, when any writer asks me how to stop writing for the non payers or low payers my answer is to simply stop doing it. It may take longer, but hunt down better opportunities, opportunities that pay. Put your effort into something that will pay off.

  3. Kathryn Lang Avatar

    The more you offer you very best in a writing job then the more opportunities you will find coming your way. A great job, done on time and according to specks, will vault you to the top of the pack!
    .-= Kathryn Lang´s last blog ..Something is About to Break =-.

    1. Deb Ng Avatar

      There’s nothing to argue with there. Thanks, Kathryn.

  4. LIsa Avatar

    Oh boy… I am there now. Editing a poorly written paper on a topic I’ve plowed over a thousand times… and quite frankly didn’t find all that scintillating to begin with. Luckily, I LOVE the client and the pay is excellent… but procrastination is far too easy when you’re not anxious to do the work!


    1. Deb Ng Avatar

      Take a deep breath. Tell yourself, “there’s a light at the end of this tunnel.” Tell yourself it’s Valentine’s Day and you’re going to reward yourself when the project is over.

      I know that probably won’t help. Some projects feel as if I’ll never see the end. The more we think about how much we dislike what we’re doing, the worse it gets.

      I’ll think good thoughts for you – you’ll get through it, I promise.

  5. Anne Wayman Avatar

    I’m with you, Deb. Although part of what I love about freelance writing is the opportunity to get to know a bit about a lot of stuff, in some instances the bit I find interesting is pretty limited. So projects can get boring for me once I’ve ‘mastered’ whatever is of interest to me.

    The other thing I know is that even those projects I love can get dull, or I can get dull about them as I go along. I find this particularly true in long projects. Book length manuscripts are, for me mostly fun to write – it’s the rewriting that often makes my nose hit the keyboard. Not the first rewrite, not even the second but on after that.

    Of course, by this time I know the material really well so I have to be extra careful, yet it’s in that kind of rewriting that the magic often happens.

    But even too much chocolate doesn’t interest me much. Rewriting I must do, chocolate I don’t have to.

    Happy V Day Deb.
    .-= Anne Wayman´s last blog ..Come Alive! Quotes To Inspire Writers =-.

  6. Christine V. Avatar
    Christine V.

    Unless the subject is drop-dead serious, I try to add a little humor or at least light-heartedness to “clunkers” that bore or frustrate me. It perks up my attitude and my writing.