How to Deal with Boring Topics without Losing Your Mind
Real Talk: as a professional copywriter, your topics are not always going to interest you. I know, I know, we all like to think that we’re going to enter a field we love or that we’re only going to take interesting jobs, but the truth is that sometimes, you’re just going to have to write some boring stuff to pay the rent. Sad, but true. Now, that’s fine and all, in theory, but when it really comes down to it, boring subjects can kill your spirit. Not to mention your creativity. So what is a writer to do, in order to find a happy medium between getting paid (we’re very fond of food and having a roof over our heads) and fulfilling their creative need? Well, here are the tricks that help me, when I’m not wild about the topic I’m writing about.
Adopting a Zen attitude
Getting dog smells out of the carpet – riveting stuff, right? Well, not exactly. But you still have to write about it. And isn’t it easy to get the job done, when you don’t start out thinking about how much you utterly hate it? It’s a cliché, but it is one for a reason. Positive thinking can actually make you more productive, believe it or not, and it’s going to completely change the way you write. You don’t realize it, but when you start out with a negative opinion, that is going to influence the amount of effort you put into your work and the quality of your writing.
So instead of being grumpy and hating life, try to find the silver lining in every situation. There is something interesting in every single topic you write about; you just have to look for it. Make sure you don’t just scratch the surface – really look into it and see what the background is. If you’re writing about loans, for example – I know that makes me yawn – put yourself in the position of someone who might need one. Really make it personal to you, don’t just look at it from the exterior. It’s not only going to make it easier for you to understand, but it will also help you find a more approachable and relatable way to present your content.
What’s your best angle?
Sometimes, you’re not given an exact title or very specific topic and are asked to just freestyle on a certain subject. At first, this may seem like it gives you more liberty and free reign to be creative – after all, you can write whatever you want, within certain limits – but seasoned writers will know that a vague subject is more difficult to write on than a specific one. It comes down to the fact that you don’t know what to pick to write about, especially if it’s something you’re not familiar with. Do you stick to the most common thing? Do you try to be different?
The right answer is the latter. Every time you have the liberty of picking your own topic (to a certain extent), try to go down a different path. Do you have a strong opinion on the subject? Can you find something that hasn’t been said? What about a completely opposite viewpoint? There is so much you can do with the most basic of topics and you don’t even know it! Dare to be different and surprise your audience with something unusual; you may enjoy the results.
And what did we learn from all this?
I know you don’t want to hear it, but you learn something from every single task. Yes, even the boring ones. Sometimes, especially from the boring ones. Usually, you won’t be jumping for joy to write about something that is completely foreign to you; firstly, because it’s more difficult and secondly, because you might not have any interest in it at all. Construction is not my all-time favorite topic, for example, just like a man might groan when faced with the need to write about make-up. But having a completely new area to tread into means you are also learning a ton of new stuff!
You don’t even realize how much information you are acquiring, until you find yourself engrossed in a conversation with someone, someday and you start giving them stats about agricultural land in Australia or randomly pulling out psychological facts. It will surprise you as much as your conversation partner, but then you will realize that it’s kind of cool, after all. And even if you don’t get to use all the new things you are learning, they all contribute to your growing knowledge about the world. Any topic, however boring, vapid, stupid or useless it may seem, helps you in some small way.
A little humor goes a long way
Take it from me – having a sense of humor will save you from a lot of boring, uncomfortable or unpleasant situations. Especially when it comes to writing, humor can be your go-to, when things are not exactly how you would like them to be. If you find that writing about your topic is more boring than watching paint dry, try to spice it up a bit! There are plenty of things you can do (more overt, or even subtle) to make the task infinitely more fun for you.
- Creative titles & subtitles – Who says you have to stick to boring, old, descriptive titles? Break free from your shell and give them a creative spin. Try to find clever wording, alliteration, references to songs or movies, well-known sayings or whatever else you want. The possibilities are endless and not only does it make your task a tiny bit more bearable, but it also makes your piece more interesting. Win!
- Puns – Everybody loves puns, that’s just a given. And why wouldn’t they? It’s such a small thing, but it can brighten up even the blandest piece of text. Sure, they’re a bit corny, but they’re also funny and they give your reader an opportunity for a good chuckle and a moment of relaxation, which will automatically make them have a more positive outlook towards your article.
- Jokes, references – Especially when you’re writing a piece where you are addressing the reader directly, jokes and different references are definitely welcome. After all, in order to get the reader engaged and attentive and make them feel like they’re having a friendly chat with you, you have to do your best to make it as enjoyable and authentic as possible. So throw in a personal anecdote, make a joke about the topic – you can even reference how boring it is – and your article will be both informative and
- Easter eggs – Now, while my other suggestions were for the readers’ benefit, this one is entirely for you. People oftentimes do this, you just never realize. Filmmakers, writers and even programmers will include inside jokes that only they know, references that no one else is aware of or other fun little details that make the process more enjoyable for them, but doesn’t affect the actual outcome of the project.
Examples: you can quote your favorite song or TV show, try to write in rhymes, make anagrams or do your best to spell out a funny word using the first letter of each paragraph. These are just suggestions; you can do whatever makes you laugh, as long as it’s not too obvious and doesn’t interfere with the completed piece.
Seeking an “expert” opinion
Sometimes, getting your info off the internet seems a bit…impersonal. I mean, sure, the facts are best taken from a credible and indisputable source, like Wikipedia , but when you only have that, it can be too stiff and almost clinical. Stats, numbers and statistics give authority, but what makes a good piece a great piece, most of the time, is the human component. It’s the connection, the emotion, the ability to relate that people appreciate in an otherwise perfectly well-written article.
Of course, you can’t really make an article about economics or re-painting your house emotional, per se, but what you can do, is give it a personal spin. In other words, give an opinion or write from experience. “But I don’t have experience in house-painting!”, you will say. But this is where your friends and family come in. Or, in absence, Googling will do.
What you need to do is seek the opinion of someone who is actually familiar with the topic you are writing on. If you’re writing about dog shows and you’re a cat person all the way, ask a dog owner. If you have no idea what a 401K is, go check with your dad. (No, seriously, dads always know about these things.) Wherever you get your information, it’s going to provide valuable personal insight into an otherwise “dry” subject and this will give it a) color and b) credibility, both of which you need.