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?

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