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How to write about something you're not interested in

A man sitting by his computer, distactedly playing with his smartphone

There comes a time in the career of every writer where you need to write about something you’re not interested in. Something you’re not engaged with. Something that has no bearing on your life or your personal and professional passions.

I’ve been in that situation a few times in the past, and it’s made for a rough gig or assignment. Sometimes, very rough. And a gig or assignment that can seem to go on for longer than it actually does.

So, how can you do a professional job of writing about something you’re not interested in? Here are a few tips.

Don’t just go through the motions

If you’re a professional (and I hope you are), you do every job professionally. Even ones you’re not interested in. You don’t just show up, type, and not care. You do the work. You do the work as well as you can. You don’t whine or grumble about it.

Not everything you write will be brilliant, but there’s no reason you can’t do a solid job on every project. You need to keep that professional discipline and mindset, and try to make the writing the best it can be.

Remember that your career goes beyond this one project or gig. If you do a bad job because of disinterest, that could come back bite you later on. You don’t want to get the reputation as being a writer who produces mediocre work when they’re not fully engaged.

Try to find a point of interest

There might be something in the project that piques your interest. It could be a feature of a product you’re writing about, or how whatever it is you’re writing about impacts your life.

If you can find that point of interest, grab it. Hold on to it. Make that the focus of your writing. Then, expand from there. Try to see how that point touches other aspects of the subject. By making those connections, you’ll find that your enthusiasm for the project may increase. Your enthusiasm might not hit the highs you want it to, but that boost will help you get through the project.

Don’t go grasping for straws, especially straws that aren’t there. If you do that, if you try too hard to find a point of interest in the project, then you won’t find it. You’ll be left even more disappointed and frustrated.

Ask for help

Your disinterest in a writing project might be because the subject matter is rather technical, or it could just be boring to you. To help kickstart your writing, or to push the project across the finish line, you might need to call for some help.

You’ll have to find the right person — someone who can clearly explain complex or difficult concepts to you, or someone with whom you’ll share the writing. That could mean sharing the credit for the work or sharing your fee, but that can be worth it to finish the project and do a good job.

Say “No, thank you”

That’s not always possible, especially if you’re a full-time employee or on a contract. In many cases, at many firms, you have to do the work that’s put in front of you. No arguments.

If, however, you have the chance to say No then take that chance. Explain to your manager or superior why you don’t want to work on that project. Tell them that they won’t get your usual quality of work. Just don’t do that too often. If you say No too frequently, you’ll be branded a prima donna and you won’t last long.

Photo credit: Sean MacEntee via Visualhunt / CC BY

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