Sometimes I feel like I’m standing at the bottom of those steps.

I’ve been really lucky: I’ve had the good fortune to publish and sell four of my novels, and I run a freelance writing and editing business as well. I have great clients who love what I do and send me work on a steady basis. What more could I want?

Well…

Any of my readers who also happen to be writers know a little something about repetition. As a rhetorical device, repetition can be subtly powerful, or not so subtly. Think of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his famous “I Have A Dream” speech. Dr. King used a little device called conduplicatio, which is repeating a phrase over and over for effect, typically at the beginning of a sentence. Powerful and effective, right?

However, there’s another kind of repetition that can drive you a little batty.

 

Great, Great, Great Clients

As I said above, I have great clients. They tell me they appreciate my hard work, and I make their editors’ jobs easy. Unfortunately, sometimes being good at a particular thing can make it, counterintuitively, harder and harder to do.

The example I’m thinking of today is writing short articles for one of my favorite clients. They send me batches of work and I do each batch, one at a time.

These batches resemble previous batches, in that the content is mostly the sameor at least extremely similar to the previous batch. In other words, I have to essentially keep rewriting the same content, again and again.

On the surface, that might not seem difficult. But if you’re a decent self-editor as well as a talented writer, you’ll know one thing: there are only so many ways you can say the same thing and say it well.

Rather than treat each new article as an unknown entity, I now refer to the previous three, or four, or five (the numbers keep getting higher). And what I find is that some articles are better than others. Of course.

No client would want you to copy/paste and charge them the same rate, and this great client of mine is no different. The challenge is that, if I’ve already written it quite well twice—and written it pretty well a third time—how in the heck am I supposed to write it as well or even better a fourth, fifth, or sixth time?

 

The Upside of Not Having a Byline 

This type of work is typically anonymous, and that’s all to the good. I would not want bylines on the same content revised and rewritten and turned inside out four, five, six times. 

So I’m not writing this today to complain. I’m lucky to still have a business after all this pandemic time, and the challenge I’ve described is a textbook example of a First World problem. I get it.

But still, you can understand why I’m feeling a little like I’m at the bottom of a long staircase as I look at my next batches of projects I’ve already written four or five times. Can’t you?

Feeling A Little Bit Better

There's an old, very bad joke that goes something like this: It was Christmas, and everyone was feeling merry; so Mary went home. Then everyone jumped for joy, but Joy jumped out the window. I know those only work when spoken aloud, and in the #MeToo era, it's a...
technophobia

Technophobia: A Writer’s Confession

To today's computer-savvy readers, "technophobia" might sound like a quaint leftover from the 20th century. You remember, right? Back in the 1980s, guys like me wrote poems of dismay about the invasion of technology into the arts. I still remember the words I penned...

Self-Publishing: The Trouble with Going It Alone

Indie publishing is on the rise but tread carefully. Self-publishing is exactly how it sounds:everything depends on you and you alone. Sure, you get to make all of the decisions, but that also means you have to make all of the decisions. Editing, proofreading,...

Radio, Radio

Last month, I had the pleasure of being the guest on a terrific radio show for authors: the Joy on Paper program hosted by PatZi Gil. PatZi was kind enough to invite me on the show to talk not only about my third novel Miles of Files, but also about my company, Sahno...
holidays

Closed for the Holidays

This week's blog post isn't about writing or reading or even about having a great holiday. It's about self-care. Ordinarily, I don't create an entire blog post about being closed for the holidays, but this year I'm making an exception. I used to work for a company...
morning

5 Things to Do Before You Begin Your Writing Day

What should you do before you start your writing day? I've read plenty of advice on topics like this over the years, and I have to say upfront: I don't think there's a right way or a wrong way. You have to do what works for you. However, I've also tried to do things...
mask

COVID-19, Discipline, and an Uncomfortable Freedom

Last week, my wife and I did something we hadn’t done since March of 2020: we walked into a supermarket without wearing masks. This might not seem radical, but a word of explanation is in order here. My mother, who turns 86 this coming May, lives up the road from us...

What’s the Worst Thing About Social Media?

I’ve been known to refer to social media as antisocial media, so you might wonder what I think is the worst thing about it. Online bullying? The relentless self-promotion? (Buy my book! Buy my service!) People tagging you or adding you to lists without asking...
paradise

The Month We Used Our Two Tickets to Paradise

​I haven’t posted on the blog since 10/3, but I have a pretty good excuse: my wife and I were on vacation. Unlike many of our peers, I especially do not like to let people know I'll be out of town. No matter what kind of security system you have, it's not easy to feel...
copyright

When Do You Need To Copyright Your Work?

​Over the past few weeks, I’ve written a couple of well-received blog posts on the publishing process, one of which is about the importance of having a Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN) and the other of which is called What’s the Risk to Not Having A...