This Bit Is The WORST

I love nearly everything about being a ghostwriter. I love helping people tell their stories, and I get a huge thrill every time I get to start poking around in someone else’s business.

The only thing that bursts my bubble is the transition between stage one (interviews) and two (drafting) of each project.  

You see, in order to take the material from interview to draft, the interviews have to be transcribed.

Now, this is the one part of my job that technology and automation could take off my plate. And indeed, I have pushed it off to transcription services many times.

Every time I do, though, I regret it, because if there’s one thing that sucks more than doing your own transcription, it’s editing somebody else’s transcription.

Oh my lord it sucks so bad.

Most projects require 40 to 50 hours of this. I spread it out so it doesn’t make me insane, but even so, I have to psych myself up to get it done.

It’s always a three-cups-of-coffee, grit-your-teeth-and-remember-your-training kind of day.

Now, you might remember from a few weeks ago that the client I’m currently working with surprised me by citing forgiveness as his favourite productivity hack.

On the recording I was working on today, he was railing at the way we hold up ‘following our passion’ as the holy grail of motivations.

His view is that following our passion is missing the point, and that to get real satisfaction from your work, you have to fall in love with the process.

I cringed a little bit, having had a big strop this morning about having to do transcription today. He’s right, of course — learning the process, accepting the process, that’s where passion really starts to grow.

Everybody has parts of their job that are just not fun. That’s kinda the deal with work; it’s not all fun, all the time.

Listening to him talk today, a question dawned on me:

What if I reframed transcription as part of the process that I need to accept, and maybe even learn to love a little bit?

Seems to me that even more passion and energy for my work might follow.

After all: the material also just doesn’t seep into my brain the same way if I don’t write it all out myself.

It makes me deeply familiar with the content, and gives me an edge in making the material hang together in interesting ways.

It allows me to internalise the client’s voice, so it becomes effortless to write as they would themselves.

It’s so tempting to feel like creative work — your writing, art, community-building — should lift you up all the time.

That it should be exhilarating and enlivening, even when it’s hard.

That it should always be fun and inspiring and come out just as you imagined it would.

But without the work, without the struggle, without the process, the end result is empty and, I would hazard, not as good. It’s these hard bits that make the final piece shine so bright.

Doing the tedious, technical, repetitive stuff is what makes you good, and sets you apart, and makes space for your passion to seep in.

So if you’re in the mud today, if the work is just kicking your butt, if you just hate this bit of whatever you’re doing…

Hang in there. You’re getting better at this very moment, which will pass, and into its place eventually will flow the fun and passion and momentum you are missing so badly right now.

Trust the process.