There are writers who are established enough in their careers that they can pick and choose what projects they would like to work on. Career novelists. Well established columnists. Top-tier bloggers.
I am not one of those writers.
I work in communications, which essentially means working to make written content better for people who aren’t experts in doing so. It’s good work, diverse and challenging, and I enjoy it. It allows me to dive into different companies and organisations, to learn a lot about a topic I don’t know anything about, and to explain that topic to different types of audiences. But, of course, some of these topics are… well, boring.
‘Boring’ is a subjective term. I’m sure a lot of the people I’ve worked with would find this article boring – but stay with me a moment longer. My point is that, as a professional, I am asked to write on topics that I wouldn’t seek out in my personal life, wouldn’t Google at random to learn more about, wouldn’t bring up at dinner parties. That doesn’t mean the topics aren’t important (they often are). They’re just not in my own field of interest.
But writing about something I don’t find engaging is amazing for the brain and for your skills as a writer. You’re forced to focus, because you’re not getting lost in content you might peruse over coffee on a weekend. You’re asked to find the main points, often technical or complicated, and distil that information in a way that makes it easy-to-understand for someone like yourself: a person without the background knowledge. You become your own audience, and the challenge is simple – write this content in a way that makes you want to read it. That doesn’t make it boring, for you or anyone else.
It’s a different type of writing and it’s arguably a kind that takes more skill. After all, banging out your 10,000 word manifesto on your passion project feels like it takes no time at all, because all the ideas come easily to you. Crafting a piece on something you don’t particularly care about is a much more difficult exercise.
So my advice to writers wondering if they should accept that commission for a blog post on carpentry techniques, or the article about the history of Queensland banana plantations, or the social media posts for the eyebrow lamination company. It might not feel “fun” while you’re doing it – but it might actually be some of the most valuable work you do in terms of honing your skill and making you a better writer.