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I recently accepted a blog assignment that was basically the equivalent of writing about the art of watching paint dry. One could argue that watching paint dry isn’t an art at all, it doesn’t even qualify for Reddit’s “Of Course That’s a Thing” because it’s not a thing at all. No one watches paint dry. The phrase “watching paint dry” is just that—a phrase of the clichéd variety, an idiom to be exact, one that announces the utter dullness of something.

Writing something so dull and off-the-grid, and wanting it to pay off, I knew I would have to be quick about it. A flat rate fee means the meter is running as soon as I open the first research tab. Some writers would turn down a seemingly impossible and risky flat-rate fee assignment. But I decided to dive in because:

  • I had the time
  • Love a challenge
  • Was oh so curious

Could I make something no one cared about interesting? Could I do it fast enough to make it worth my while? Could I do it within the given protocols and keywords? It was a challenge but I knew it was always the hard things in life that kept me sharp.

Plus, I had been experiencing some writer’s block and aside from time in my schedule, my own writing (the books, the many books) was a little off. Could a challenge knock the cobwebs loose?

Upping Your Writing Game

Whether you’re writing for your own business website, a client or just for fun, you’ve probably had some days when you can’t put any sentences together. You might even have lots of great ideas but when your fingers hit the keyboard, only gibberish comes out.

Doing something hard is a guaranteed way to unblock and get your sentences flowing again. If I didn’t experience it firsthand, I never would’ve guessed that hard work ultimately makes things easier. In the past when I couldn’t formulate what I was trying to say, I’d shy away from the hard stuff and shoot for the lower hanging fruit.

Now I know better. After accepting the “paint-drying assignment” and staring at the blank page and the clock for too long, I just started writing because time was running out. (The topic was actually about envelopes and if the blog was live, I’d link to it because it’s really quite good.) Something about being blocked and having a deadline and a challenge…words appeared on the page almost as if conjured from outside myself.

Writing Gold

You never know when flow will kick in but if you’re stuck the chances of striking writing gold increase if you tackle something hard. I know this from experience and other writers have concurred. (There might be science to back me, but I haven’t had a chance to look. Yet.)

I’ve discovered I sometimes need a tough assignment to help me steamroll through the easier projects and remind me of how to look at things in different ways. Writing 500 words about the importance of envelopes was just the sort of writing challenge I needed to make the other topics I write about seem that much more manageable. Conquering something hard also makes me feel a little more brave to take on the next assignment that seems too hard.

When You Need To Go Pro

No matter what your writing challenge is—blogging, newsletters, landing pages, press releases—sometimes you just don’t have time to do it yourself. Or maybe you have the time, but writing isn’t your forte. Or perhaps you’re a great writer, but just hate doing it.

In this side-hustle, sharing and gigging economy, there is no reason to waste time doing something you can’t do well or hate doing. Let your fingers do the searching and find yourself a writer or photographer or designer or trainer, chef, dog walker … you name it, there’s someone to do it.

When you need to look good in writing and have pages to fill or blogs to write, it’s better to hire a professional than kick it down the road waiting for inspiration to hit. But if you’re going to write your own copy and have writer’s block, do something seemingly impossible and watch the words shake loose.

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