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It’s Okay For Freelance Writers To Be Bored… Occasionally

bored editing catA couple of weeks ago I was in the middle of an editing project. I’d coached the author through writing it and sure enough she’d found a publisher.

Of course the publisher wanted some tweaks and the author asked me to do them.

Unfortunately, the Word manuscript had a ton of strange formatting errors. Lots of paragraphs were inside normal margins, headings and subheadings hadn’t been tagged so an automatic table of contents could be generated and there were even long sections with a different typeface.

Sure, I also was helping smooth the text – that was fine, and often even fun. I’d gotten to know the material and the author well enough to be able to rewrite in her voice.



But the formatting was, well, boring!

I spent what seemed like roughly forever fixing margins, fonts, and making sure of spacing and such. Nothing too difficult, but grunt work

I finally looked up the keystrokes for track changes because the manuscript was quickly becoming unreadable with every change signaled. It’s CTRL SHIFT E if you ever need it, and that nugget made life a bit easier.

Finally I went over the the 5 Buck Forum and just whined about how very bored I was.

Almost immediately a couple of the pros over there reassured me that boredom was normal, particularly when faced with the kind of mindless task I was doing. They also made sure I understood that it was to my advantage to complete the job no matter how bored I got. I was, after all, getting paid and the client was a good one.

I knew that of course, but Cathy Miller reminded me I could always stop and take a walk. Which is what I did – more than once.



Generally I figure if I’m bored it’s really up to me to get un-bored. Life isn’t boring unless I refuse to notice the wonder around me. I did spend a few moments appreciating the wonders of technology – I remember typewriters – but that didn’t last too long.

There are some things we writers simply have to slog through. It comes with the territory. The kind of re-formatting I was doing is one example.

What about the writing process bores you? How do you push through? Leave a comment!

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Image: Attribution Some rights reserved by LostinTexas

{ 16 comments… add one }
  • I find that walking with my best friend “Bosco” seems to help. I get the blood flowing and seem to get energized a little. Concentrating on my dog also gives me a mental rest. The key is making sure that when you get back, you go to work. It is far to easy to get energized and do something more fun!

    • David, I know the feeling, and yet I also find writing fun.

  • It is easy for writers to get bored. But it is hard to keep up the motivation throughout your life, don’t you think? Would you do anything other than writing?
    Ron – Copywriting Blog recently posted..Five Steps to Get More Work for Any Freelance WriterMy Profile

    • No I wouldn’t do anything other than writing as a base, but it’s allowed me all sorts of things from commercial fishing to… oh, sailing in the south pacific.

  • So glad you can do the walking for me, Anne. It’s too cold for me here and I soooo miss it. I am using my Dance With Me DVD, but definitely not the same thing. I may have acclimated some to the colder weather from San Diego days, but I still can’t walk in 20 degree weather like the natives. 🙂

    As I mentioned on the forum, I hate editing, so my solution was I eliminated it as one of my services. 😀 But, we still end up with things we just have to slog through. You have my walking solution. The other thing I try is doing some creative, personal writing. it’s our creative side that cries out against the boring so give yourself a boost doing something you enjoy.

    Have you finished it, Anne?
    Cathy Miller recently posted..Does Your Message Stink From the Headline Down?My Profile

    • Cathy, it’s been raining again and I don’t walk in the rain, but… yes, I got it finished.

  • On the forum, Lori said a good way to deal with boredom is to keep counting the money you’re making in your head! That’s awesome… I’m going to do that next time.

    • Greg and Lori… when I do that I have to be careful not to suddenly find myself shopping online instead of working. 😉

  • Oh my God I did this with a book edit once. This is when I found out newer versions of Word format differently than older versions. I remember a few nights spending an hour or two reformatting.
    Bill Swan recently posted..How Blog Comments are Good in More Ways Than TwoMy Profile

    • Is that what happened Bill, we had multiple versions of word? My only curse is: May Bill Gates and his wife be using his software.

  • Nina Lewis

    I identified with the mind-numbing task of fixing margins, fonts, spacings, etc. I’m currently on a similar project that at times had me so frustrated because I couldn’t figure out what had been done with the formatting. (The document had multiple authors….)

    I just kept imagining how I would spend the money that I would get when they paid me. (And getting payment from them is starting to become an issue. Sigh.)

    • Nina, there were only two authors… well, the author an an assistant involved in mine. And why either of them did what they did is beyond me… word unadjusted would have been just fine… can’t imagine more than two messing with all that to unsort.

  • Ali

    I get bored when writing ridiculously longer pieces on weird topics – And I usually take a warm shower to get the energy back!
    Ali recently posted..Kiss Your PageRank Goodbye If You Don’t Know These 9 Things (#7 Is Crazy)My Profile

    • I’ve done the same thing Ali – so many good ideas come in the shower.

  • I’ll visualize myself having finished the %^@@## task and doing something I enjoy better afterwards. And, yes, I do take some walks, or get on the phone with a friend I haven’t talked with for a while. 😀 Anything to take a break!
    Helenee recently posted..Top 10 Stories From Greek Mythology updated Sat Dec 3 2011 11:03 am ESTMy Profile

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