It's not easy to get excited about someone else's project. If you're trying to muster up interest for work that you're not excited for, try immersing yourself in the mindset of the people in the room.
Photo by Allan Edwards.
As graphic designer Michael Bierut explains, when you're working on a project (especially if you're a freelancer), you're often required to get invested in work that's not yours. You might not even related to it at all. If you don't have stakes in the fight, you might not care. To combat this feeling, pretend you're someone in the room who does have chips on the table. Think about how they see it. Research what everyone else is researching, even if it's not relevant to your job in particular.
[S]omeone says you want to do the signs for the New York Times?… [T]o do the work properly, I have to talk to editors, I have to sit in on the page-one meeting where they decide how page one is going to be laid out…
If you just have a request for proposal where the client says we need X, Y, and Z, that really just gives you the shopping list… It's sort of like saying, I need a pair of pants and a shirt. But then, where are you going to wear it, how much are you going to spend? I'll stand you in front of a mirror and you have to feel like you're the kind of person who can wear those clothes.
So going to all those meetings, if all I cared about were typefaces or colours, I'd be sitting, fidgeting, thinking, "Why am I here? This is boring." Instead, I was thinking "I can't believe I'm here, I can't believe that without ever taking a journalism class I'm actually sitting with the top editors at the New York Times and I'll know before any other civilian does what's going to be the story that appears in the first column on the left of tomorrow's paper." I had that momentary thrill.
By doing these exercises, you can start to put yourself more into the mindset of the people on the project. The more it feels like your own, the more likely you are to come up with relevant, helpful solutions that resonate with the people in the room.