A roadblock, a plateau, a mountain

So, of late I have been working on a freelance copywriting project. I cannot share too many details due to basic confidentiality issues, but what’s pertinent to this post is that this writing project has literally been consuming my life for over a week now.

Let me take a step back. I really enjoy writing and editing. I do it all the time, whether I’m getting paid for it or not. So, not long ago, I decided I’d start making steps in my personal development towards writing more in a way that might actually be lucrative (which, in turn, would provoke me to continue writing through the money factor) or at least more personally pleasing. So, I started my own website. I agreed to blog weekly (thank you PGT). And I got in touch with various people I know and have professional contacts with to see about gaining some unpaid writing experience to build a professional portfolio.

I have been fortunate – a couple people actually got back to me and I’ve re-written an entire website’s worth of material for one person, took a stab at some basic copy on another page, and then was given this current project a little over a week ago.

Which brings me to the present. Essentially, I have over 100 *things* to write about, each is similar, but also different. Each requires unique copy but relate back to the basic product being sold. Over 100. And I’ve completed about 70 so far (bear in mind each takes between 15 and 35 minutes to research and write).

The problem is not that I don’t enjoy what I’m doing – I have been having a blast. It’s not even that I’m running out of ways to say things – I think that for the most part I’m still producing original approaches to each.

No, the issue I’m having is one of confidence in myself and my where my writing is at. As I’ve moved further and further into this project, I’ve been pushing to get quicker and quicker (to meet my deadline of the end of this week), while still keeping it creative. The problem is, it’s difficult, when I’m cranking along, to step back as look at what I’ve written to say “oh, that’s good” or “oh, that’s definitely not.” And, as I’ve done more and more of these things, I’m starting to be concerned that either my creativity will suffer, or repetition will occur (neither of which is wanted). Couple this with the fact that this is the first major project I’ve been given by this particular contact (and I’d really like to impress so that more come my way), and I’ve seen myself go from boldly writing where I’ve never written before to just about mildly nervous when I turn in chunks of what I’ve done.

So, have I hit a roadblock? Or is it more of a plateau, where I have a finite quantity of creativity and I have realized it subconsciously and am now retreating from the idea of writing (a profession reliant on limitless creativity)? Or is it just a mountain, where climbing long enough and pushing hard enough, I will eventually reach a point where it gets a bit smoother and efforts are less strenuous.

I do know that writing well, even for those who enjoy it, is a skill that takes fine-tuning and a ton of effort. Write, write, and write more, is the best way, most writers say, to get better. My question (and it’s not really answerable, but perspective would be helpful) is, what sort of hold up have I hit?

 

davidrsheehan is a contributing writer for projectgroupthink.wordpress.com. Get instant updates for this blog via Twitter: PGTblog. You can also tweet directly with him: davidrsheehan.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “A roadblock, a plateau, a mountain

  1. eelliso1

    My first initial reaction is just that perhaps you have too much going on, but knowing you I know perfectly well how you work under pressure, so I will cast that notion aside.

    This reminds me of what happens when I try to do artwork on commission etc. It sounds like a fantastic idea, until I start the actual process. Then I find what what I enjoy doing feels more like a chore. My usual passion and interest while not gone, seems dulled. I feel flustered with myself.

    For myself I’ve always lavished the process–not the outcome, which is why so much of my artwork is discarded, except Albert, I promised my dad I would keep that painting.

    I suggest just taking a step back for a moment, write one of your off the wall poems or a quick short story to refresh your battery.

  2. davidrsheehan

    Thanks for the suggestion, E.

    I do have things going on, but I have the time and energy budgeted appropriately to finish what I’ve started.

    I think it’s more of a concern about the larger picture in the long run – is doing something you love for payment (even though I’m not being paid right now) effectively killing it?

  3. Po

    Dave, it sounds like your nerves are getting the best of you. Since this is your first big project it’s pretty normal to have confidence issues. I’m sure the copy is fine, and once you receive some positive feedback you should feel a lot better.

    From my personal experience, my job occasionally requires me to write copy. Seeing as how I enjoy writing, I jumped at the opportunity to do so. However, when going through the actual process I realized I wasn’t having as much fun as I thought I would. Then it hit me. I only like to write when creativity and inspiration moves me to do so (this unfortunately doesn’t happen much at work). I must also take an interest in the subject matter. If those two things aren’t going for me, the writing experience just isn’t that enjoyable and it’s usually reflected in the writing.

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