What do you do when you’re not really into the post that you’re supposed to write?
I’m not talking about having writer’s block, where you want to write, but are feeling stuck. No, I’m talking about when you’re feeling uninspired about the post that you’re supposed to be writing. As in, you pitched it or it was assigned, you agreed, it’s time to write.
And you don’t really want to.
You don’t have a problem sitting down to do other assignments (in fact, you might get ahead on things when you’re not feeling that spark for a certain assignment), so it’s not an overall motivation issue– it’s more specific to what you’re trying to write about.
Sometimes this struggle can be related to burnout– maybe you’ve written about the topic a lot, so you’re not as excited, or invested, or you feel like you have nothing new to say.
Other times the struggle can come from having pitched or accepted something you weren’t super excited about, to begin with. If you’re a content manager, you can usually assign these ideas to other writers (like I can do!), but asking to shift gears once an idea is approved and assigned to you can come across as unprofessional to your clients.
And I don’t know about you, but I definitely don’t want to look unprofessional!
I also find that when I’ve been uninspired, I’ve procrastinated- so I also haven’t left myself a lot of time to make the situation better.
What to do if you’re struggling to write an article.
You might want to check out our post about dealing with writer’s block– those ideas can help too, but here’s what I also find helpful:
1. Give some thought to what’s getting in the way.
If you can, figure out where the issue is with you getting held up. If it’s a matter of having written about the topic a lot, this may mean you need to think more creatively before you pitch, talk to your editor about mixing up your assignments, or perhaps take a break from that niche if needed.
Though you don’t necessarily want to give up work, if you’re struggling to write a certain type of article, you’re wasting mental energy and time that could be devoted to finding or completing other assignments.
2. Set goals for yourself.
We all have different ways we approach writing an article.
Some people like to start with an outline, others jump right in and work until they have a draft; you might write articles in chunks. Whatever your process, this is a good time to set goals for the article you’re lacking inspiration on.
If you need to research, set some time for that. Then, have another goal to get through your intro (for example).
Ideally, you have enough time before your article is due that you can space these goals out over a few days, but if not, add other tasks in between. If you end up finding your interest is re-sparked as you get going, then just keep going!
3. Give up (but only for a bit).
Your timeline will dictate if and how you can do this, but for me, when I’m struggling with an article, I put it aside. Generally, I can get into the groove quickly, so when I can’t, I know that it will be an uphill battle, so I move on.
I try to come back to it again with a fresh outlook and if I can’t get started again, I put it aside, but also try to figure out what’s stopping me, and I set some goals to get it done.
If you’ve totally procrastinated, you might not be able to apply this strategy so you might need to file this one away for later.
4. Read or watch something related to the topic.
Don’t look at this as more research, but simply being inquisitive and interested in the topic. See if you can find something that takes a creative or unique spin on the topic (maybe even makes fun of it!).
Sometimes we need to give our brains a bit of a break, but still stay on topic. Again, this isn’t researching or finding material to use in your piece (though that may happen), this is about enjoying the topic you’re trying to write about.
5. Look at the bigger picture.
Sometimes, when we’re struggling with an article, it helps to remember why we’re doing this whole freelance writing thing. What’s your bigger picture motivation? Is it more flexibility in your schedule? Being able to take better care of yourself? Making more money?
Whatever the reason, if you can tap into that, you may find renewed spirit for this pesky article that helps you achieve those bigger picture goals.
6. Pay attention to how you’re thinking.
Chances are, as you’ve been gearing up to write your article, you’ve thought things like “Ugh. Why did I pitch this?” or “Sh*t. 1500 words on [insert boring topic here].”
No wonder you’re struggling to write!
Take the time to shift those thoughts around and deal with your negative thinking. Though the article may not write itself, when you’re in a better frame of mind, you have a better chance of getting to work on it.
7. Make a note for your future self.
When you’re a busy freelancer (or just busy in general), it can be easy to write a post, invoice, and move on. Then, you probably do some sort of happy dance, or internal sigh of relief when you get paid for it. Because you do get paid, you’re ending that painful experience on a high note.
While this can be positive, it’s also reinforcement of something you may not want to reinforce.
So- when you’ve experienced lack of inspiration, take note of it- maybe in your client file, or on your whiteboard. Remind yourself that you struggled with a certain topic, very stringent guidelines, or a too-quick-due-date.
If you can avoid, or rework the situations that led killing your inspiration, that’s great. And, if you can’t avoid or rework, at least you can prepare.
Even when you write about topics that you love, there will likely come a time where your inspiration drops. (I love writing these types of articles, but pushed this one off many times. I put it aside a few times, and when I finally found my inspiration again, it was easy to write!).
If you feel less-than-excited to complete an assignment, don’t panic.
It’s normal. Try these seven tips (plus a few more for writer’s block) to help you rekindle your interest and get the assignment done!