Phoning It In

phoning it inOnce upon a time,  when newspaper copy was drafted on type writers and laptops and tablets were not yet a dream in Steve Jobs’ mind,  newspaper  reporters sometimes called the copy desk from out in the field and dictated their stories over the telephone,  to be typed and edited by other journalists back in the newsroom.  I’m not entirely certain how ‘phoning it in’  became an expression referring to a half-hearted effort which someone simply did not bring their A-game to.   I came to realize that it was not Just Three Words that Holly was trying to discourage me from,  but rather ‘phoning it in’,  using a gimmick and making half an effort on a day I just can’t be bothered.  While I suspect I will have to get some distance from these blog posts before I can re-read them with a more critical eye and possibly judge if, when or how much I have been phoning it in over this very challenging blog year.

I’ve sometimes written that the biggest trait of the true professional writer is that they unfailingly meet deadlines.    The ability to crank out copy,  get the grammar and spelling correct and have it come out readable and fulfill all of the contract requirements is what professional writers most often do.    And yet,   like my friend Holly,  I learned this year that sometimes I can’t even phone it in.    The words simply will not flow.   To be perfectly honest,  I stopped seeking out and trying to land freelance article work quite some time ago.  It seemed as though there was always someone somewhere who was happy to work for a lower price than I was willing to take.   If my writing is only going to earn me peanuts,  I’d frankly just as soon write for myself and devote my efforts to getting people to read it,  and never mind the intermediate step of getting someone to pay me for my work.

In one sense,  I could categorize this post as a rather long winded introductory example of my new curated content project.   The very striking image is from a Tumblr blog,  where a blogger tagged this image with the phrase ‘phoning it in’.    There was a sub-title that may (or may not) make it clear to readers what this image has to do with the title phrase.   Do click through and see if you “get it”.   And leave me a comment and let me know.

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4 comments on “Phoning It In

  1. With you right here: “If my writing is only going to earn me peanuts, I’d frankly just as soon write for myself and devote my efforts to getting people to read it, and never mind the intermediate step of getting someone to pay me for my work.” Great post!

  2. Don’t “Phone it i”‘ versus “Get it done” is so often the dilemma in life. I have found some of my better writing seemed like just meeting a deadline when I was doing it. After later reflection…and often a bit of light editing, I think some of that is my proudest work. Too often when I have time and work toward Harold pleasing perfection, I never seem to get anything actually accomplished. Perhaps we need a bit of Ying & Yang to create the right balance.

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