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The Tasks We Dread

To paraphrase a familiar adage, “A writer’s gotta do what a writer’s gotta do.”

So I’m doing it. Because it has to be done sometime. No matter how much I hate doing it, and no matter how long I procrastinate, it still must be done. And there’s no time like the present, so. . . .

I’m referring to identifying items (terms, phrases, names, etc.) to be included in the index of the book on which I’m currently working. I’ve finished writing the umpteenth draft of the manuscript, and I’m getting sick of the subject, which is a sure-fire sign that it’s time to stop tinkering with minutia and get the book ready to submit somewhere. I can’t assign page numbers to each term, of course, but I can at least identify the items I want to include in the index as I proof the manuscript one final time.

Indexing is a task that I never enjoyed. I was introduced to the torture, er task, when I was an author of history curricula for a major textbook publisher. I knew immediately that it did not fit into my expectations as an author, but my superiors determined that it was a task for which I was responsible. So I did what any self-respecting academic author would do. I delegated the task to our team’s graduate assistant. (That’s one advantage of working for an academic publisher connected with a university.)

But as a freelance writer, I no longer have that luxury. If it’s going to get done, I’m the one who will have to do it. Oh, I could hire a professional indexer. (Can you believe that anyone would do such work for a living and actually enjoy it?!)

But I’m too cheap for that. Perhaps when I’m rich and famous, I’ll hire a professional indexer or maybe my own personal GA to do it for me, but I’m not holding my breath for that day. Besides, who better than the author knows what’s in his book and what should be included in the index? So, I’m indexing.

If there’s anything I dislike even remotely as badly as I dislike indexing, it’s doing endnotes. I thrive on the researching and enjoy the organizing of the outline and doing the actual writing. But I dread doing the endnotes and index. But both tasks must be done, so I do them.

That is the mark of a professional or even an amateur who is really serious about his or her writing. It’s true of every profession. No matter the profession, there are certain tasks that the practitioner loves and other tasks that he or she dreads. But because they are serious about the whole process and the end product, it gets done.

What dreaded challenge do you face in your writing? How do you deal with it?

Whatever it is, persevere! Get it done! Afterward, you’ll be glad you did. And so will your readers (although they might not appreciate the self-inflicted tortures you endured in getting it all done).

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