5 Ways Writers Can Cure Where-do-I-begin-itis

by Krissy Brady

Woman sticking out tongue—blech

Today’s article is written by regular contributor Krissy Brady.

For the past six months, I’ve been transitioning from my old lifestyle as a web designer to my new lifestyle as a freelance writer. I’ve worked hard to strip my daily routine down to its bare bones, so I can create a new routine that suits my new career.

Most of us assume our writing careers would be further along if we had more time to write. It’s a fair assumption to make, but the one thing I’ve learned since making this transition is this:

It’s not about how much time you have to write; it’s about how you use it.

Becoming a writer is one of the most unpredictable career paths out there. It’s exciting. It’s terrifying. It’s traveling without a compass, which is why planning your time in advance is crucial.

Your next step should already be planned while working on your current step. Otherwise, you might find yourself with oodles of time to write… and a severe case of Where-do-I-begin-itis.

Like I did.

While revamping my lifestyle, my end goal was creating more time to write, when it should have been a piece of a much bigger puzzle. Once I had more time to write, I sat frozen at my computer without a clue as to where (or how) to start.

Ironically, I ended up getting less done than when I had less time to write.

When you make time to write but don’t decide on a concrete direction for your career, that’s when Where-do-I-begin-itis will strike.

You’ve accumulated dozens of writing goals you want to accomplish, but instead of jumping in, you’ve allowed yourself to become intimidated by the enormity of your goals. This can happen at any stage of your career, but can make or break it in the very beginning.

The next time Where-do-I-begin-itis strikes, here are five tips to help you bridge the gap between your initial panic and your goals, so you can focus on your creativity:

1. Start your writing career where you want to.

If you’re anything like me, your writing goals are spread amongst different areas of the writing industry – nonfiction, digital, literary, perhaps even screenwriting – so it can be difficult to decide which writing goal will become your primary, and which you’ll prioritize for a later time.

Rank your writing goals in order of how they make you feel. Which one do you want to accomplish the most? Which one amps up your energy level like you just drank a pot of coffee?

Whether you decide to start your writing career by blogging, freelance writing for magazines, or writing your dream screenplay, any starting point is the “write” starting point. Make the goal you’re most passionate about your primary goal, trust in your decision, and watch your daily word count explode!

2. Write what inspires you. The money will follow.

More than anything, you want to leave your job so you can write full-time, but don’t become so desperate to do so that you’ll take any writing job that comes your way.

If you take a writing job for the sake of the money, the very reasons why you wanted out of the 9-5 rat race will spill into your writing. What’s worse, by the time you drag your way through your writing job to pay the bills, your creativity reserve will have dried up, making it more difficult than ever before to work on your passion projects.

Make sure you always write what you love. It will propel you forward in ways I still can’t put into words, and you’ll naturally be compelled to build an income with your passion.

3. Quality over quantity, or quantity over quality? You decide.

Once you’ve decided on your primary and secondary writing goals, how will you know if you’re making significant progress? How will you mark your success points?

It’s just as important to focus on your creative process as it is your writing itself. Get to know your habits, strengths, and weaknesses.

Whether you write 5,000 words of typed vomit before getting into your groove, or you spend days perfecting a paragraph, learning what your natural writing process is will help you create a writing schedule you can maintain at your own pace, and on your own terms.

4. Environment less than inspiring? Create your own inspiration.

Whether your office is the size of a broom closet, or your friends and family look at you with sympathy instead of enthusiasm about your career choice, it’s important to create your own inspiration. There are many ways to do so, including:

  • Following writers you admire (and who have reached the goals you’re striving toward)
  • Joining a writing group
  • Reading writing trade magazines
  • Listening to music that fuels your creativity
  • Filling your desk and surrounding walls with mementos that remind you of why your writing goals are so important

Do anything and everything you have to do to create an environment where you’re not only inspired to keep writing, but you’re unable to stop.

5. Never forget why you love to write.

There will be challenges, criticism, and plenty of rejection as you build your writing career. Always focus on how writing makes you feel: go back to the beginning when you first decided to become a writer, and revive the rush of excitement you felt when you made your decision. Hold onto that feeling, because it will push you through every obstacle you’ll potentially face.

Reaching your writing goals starts with motivation and planning, and it ends with trust: trusting your instincts, trusting your abilities, and most importantly, trusting your decisions.

What do you do to overcome Where-do-I-begin-itis?

{ 19 comments }

Melissa McPhail November 27, 2012 at 12:44 am

Great post, Krissy. Thank you for sharing your experiences and tips for success on this uneven (and often slightly terrifying) career path.
Read Melissa McPhail´s last article ..Speculative fiction is the motor of progress (why everyone should read fantasy, part 2)

Krissy Brady, Writer November 27, 2012 at 4:14 am

Totally my pleasure Melissa! So happy you enjoyed the article. ;)
Read Krissy Brady, Writer´s last article ..Guest Post: 5 Ways Writers Can Cure Where-do-I-begin-itis

Guilie November 27, 2012 at 11:34 pm

Awesome post! Thanks, Krissy, for the valuable insight. Like Melissa said, it *is* often terrifying, but it’s so nice to know there are others out there in the same struggle.
Read Guilie´s last article ..Say Thank You

Krissy Brady, Writer December 1, 2012 at 4:11 am

I’m glad you enjoyed the article Guilie, and I totally agree with you – I find so much comfort and motivation from knowing we’re all in the same boat. :0)
Read Krissy Brady, Writer´s last article ..Guest Post: 5 Ways Writers Can Cure Where-do-I-begin-itis

surinderleen November 28, 2012 at 12:18 am

I have written one book of non-fiction and two fiction books out of my passion vaulet. I have a large number of futuristic and thrilled ideas on fiction. Problem is, still I am a not seriously taken unpublished auther.
Today’s article of Krissy Brady is pushing me towards trust, trust on my decision, on my passion of fiction writing. However, If you have any concrete secret formulea to get published commercially, please share with me. Krishy Brady’s shared thoughts have already inculcated inside me deeply but I am afraiding to be a full swing writer.
If rejections will pile up like mushrooms then in future I may depose my decision but I want to erect my passion flame swaying. I will keep it up but like a smothering cinder. I want to burn it alive like a huge flame in winter in countryside so that people can absorb heat and satisfaction from it. I want to be like an unconditional flower whose essence can make way to anyone’s nostrils while passing along it. Please help me having published commercially and globally. Kissy Brady’s tips have rekindled my smothering cinder of writing.

Krissy Brady, Writer December 1, 2012 at 1:14 pm

I’m so glad you found the article useful! The best way to deal with any rejection, to make sure it doesn’t deter you from what you want, is to always have a Plan B market in place. After receiving a rejection letter, immediately send your manuscript to the next market on your list, before you have a chance to feel like crap about your previous rejection, so you can go back into anticipation mode right away. It does wonders. :)
Read Krissy Brady, Writer´s last article ..Guest Post: 5 Ways Writers Can Cure Where-do-I-begin-itis

Brian B. King November 28, 2012 at 3:29 am

Understanding who I am and where I’m at in life, as a writer and a person, has helped me to overcome my “Where-do-I-begin-itis.”

I know I want to create Sci-Fi and Fantasy novels (presently 30 story ideas).

I know I have a lot of craft to develop (grammar, structure, plot, dialogue, manipulating people’s emotions).

Everything else comes afterwards, basically.
Read Brian B. King´s last article ..Women Samurai

kcclamb November 28, 2012 at 4:40 pm

Ok, I’m not an expert here (hence why I have no published self-help articals), but I’ve personally found that becoming your characters will help. Especially the main character. I’ve found that if I put myself in the mind set of atleast the main character, the emotional manipulations will fall right into place, and may even take you book or story to places you least expect it. Draw upon your own experiences. If your character is blunt and they told someone ‘you look fat’, you should think of the possible real-life outcomes of that remark. Your goal hopefully isn’t to re-fabricate human reactions, because the ones that exist in real life are the ones that readers will associate and connect with. Your plot and characters will make more sense and will carry your plot along.

As far as dialouge goes, here is something my creative writing teacher told us:
Dialouge should only exist if it does one of the following: 1) carries the plot or 2) enhances character or character reactions. If it is redundant, like say, molly picks up the phone and says, “Hello?” and mom says “hello.” It would be more interesting if it were “Yeah?” “Molly, I need you to go to the store for me.” Do you see a difference? Honestly, Dialouge (and anything you mentioned, really) could each take up a whole artical in turn.

To anyone else out there, if I’m wrong on any of this, please correct me. Consider me over-eager to help. :)

Krissy Brady, Writer December 1, 2012 at 1:16 pm

Refining your craft is such an intense process, but I know you’ll get to where you want to be. :)
Read Krissy Brady, Writer´s last article ..Guest Post: 5 Ways Writers Can Cure Where-do-I-begin-itis

kcclamb November 28, 2012 at 4:28 pm

Where do I begin? That usually happens when I have the uncontrolable desire- Need- to write. Something. Anything. But its during those times that I can’t think of anything. So I call up my BFF for a word or catergory or something. Anything. Then I write a spur-of-the-moment poem. One or two is enough to satisfy the need.

However, when it comes to real serious writing, I usually have a vague idea and run with it, becoming the characters. My hardest ‘where do I begin’ moments for actual writing is when I have myself on a good roll and I almost can’t stop writing or typing. But I’m forced to quit. When I get back to writing, I’m all like: Where was I going with this? What will they do now?
Does that sound like a writer’s block? Well, quite frankly, its not. Not to me, anyways, because before I took a break, I knew exactly where it was headed and where it was going and what was going to happen next. So what do I do?

While some experts say to just write and not re-read what you write, for me it is the only way that I can be sure that the book is being written the way that I want it or need it to go and that it will feel right and be as close to realistic as possible to life.

I will now get off my soap box. :^}

Krissy Brady, Writer December 1, 2012 at 1:22 pm

I totally know how you feel darlin! I’m constantly advised to stop writing when you still want to keep going, as a way to not get “stuck” the next time you start, but I’m always compelled to keep going until my fingers are cramped, lol! I think it’s because of how many times I’ve HAD to stop or I’ve been interrupted and couldn’t pick up the same train of thought again. Now, I just keep going no matter what.

I really like your idea of becoming your characters during the process – what a great way to make sure your characters are always authentic in their reactions and mannerisms!
Read Krissy Brady, Writer´s last article ..Guest Post: 5 Ways Writers Can Cure Where-do-I-begin-itis

kcclamb December 1, 2012 at 4:41 pm

Thank you, Krissy! I think that so far, you are the first person to understand that yet!
And as to the becoming you characters, I think that all started when I was little. I did so much role playing with friends and sisters. Honestly, there were times when my parents thought there was something wrong with me because I was living them and acting them so much and so well! LOL, I have to keep letting her know that i’m pretending. Actually, now that I’ve said that, I’m currently writing about a character that did just that and constantly got into trouble for it! As you can see, this particular character has become me rather than the other way around. I geuss that’s what I get for starting a book that had no road map or side plot, aside from falling in love and the name of the main character. Oh, well. :)

Krissy Brady, Writer December 3, 2012 at 9:40 pm

I think that will make for a great story! I think that’s why I love movies so much, and why I want to become a screenwriter. It’s nice getting lost in someone else’s head for a while. :0)
Read Krissy Brady, Writer´s last article ..Guest Post: 5 Ways Writers Can Cure Where-do-I-begin-itis

Christi Craig December 2, 2012 at 12:57 am

Krissy,
Great post. I totally agree on writing what inspires you, especially when just getting started — as a writer on on a new writing project. That point parteners well with remembering why you write, too. Those are perfect places to return to when we get stuck (which, unfortunately, does happen).
Read Christi Craig´s last article ..BRAVE ON THE PAGE & Guest Post by Jackie Shannon Hollis

Krissy Brady, Writer December 3, 2012 at 9:43 pm

I’m so glad you enjoyed the post Christi! I remember when I first started my web design business, and I took every job I could get my hands on for the sake of making a living. While it was necessary at the time, I promised myself I would NEVER do that with my writing – otherwise your writing then becomes a “job” too, which totally defeats the purpose!
Read Krissy Brady, Writer´s last article ..Guest Post: 5 Ways Writers Can Cure Where-do-I-begin-itis

Suzanne D Williams December 3, 2012 at 6:54 am

I am going to hang on to this article to pull out every time someone looks at me like I am crazy for writing, as if it’s a waste of my time, and I should “get a real job.” Thank you for your inspiration with this article!
Read Suzanne D Williams´s last article ..Sunday Photographs & A Note

Krissy Brady, Writer December 3, 2012 at 9:46 pm

Totally my pleasure Suzanne! Always remember that you’re not crazy, THEY are for not finding something to love as much as we love our writing. If anything, feel sorry for them (this also will help you get through those moments where you want to slap them in the face, LOL!).
Read Krissy Brady, Writer´s last article ..Guest Post: 5 Ways Writers Can Cure Where-do-I-begin-itis

Kelly Leiter January 5, 2013 at 9:30 am

I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciated this post and that I recommended it on my blog for beginning writers.
Read Kelly Leiter´s last article ..Link-Round up For 1/4/13

www.0w8st8.com June 8, 2013 at 12:39 am

Hi, just wanted to say, I liked this blog post. It was inspiring. Keep on posting!

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