For many of us, the prospect of being a career freelance writer has been a lifelong dream. It holds more meaning to us than just a job we could do to pay the bills. That being the case, when we set out on our journey to become a writer, we are anxious to get it right.
The logical solution to ensure we start out on the right foot would be to do some research about freelance writing. After that, make a plan of attack, and then put the plan into action. This is a perfectly sound approach. However, sometimes we can get stuck on step one, the research.
Too much research can stall your career
Excessive research is the perfect mask for procrastination, fooling you into believing you are working toward your goals, when really you aren’t.
My husband is a freelance writer and he is earning enough for us to live on. This is how he started:
One day, after a few circumstances in our lives changed, he decided he would give freelance writing a shot. He didn’t research anything, he just put up a profile on Upwork and started applying. He learnt as he went along, and researched things when he needed to.
I had planned to start writing as well, but instead I was in the background burning up the keyboard searching dos and don’ts, how to’s and top 7 tips for any possible subject related to what he was doing. But therein lies the key, what he was DOING.
Learning everything there was to know about how to become a freelance writer was creating the illusion that I was making practical steps toward my goal. In reality, it was just a stalling tactic I had employed because I was anxious about starting out. The solution? I just had to start writing and publishing.
Signs of excessive career research
So here are my top 3 tell-tale signs that excessive research might be helping you to procrastinate, and what you can do about it.
- You know the answer to the question, but you google it anyway… just in case you missed something.
How to fix it: Start a small research diary and take notes. This way, when you are tempted to Google something again, first take a look at your notes. Remind yourself that you already know the answer, then move on and get to work.
- You start researching topics that are only loosely related to the task at hand, or that aren’t relevant at the moment.
How to fix it: Make a to do list. My husband teases me for all my lists, but my lists keep me on task. When you are tempted to start researching something that only has relevance 6 months down the track from now, and only if X,Y and Z happens then it shouldn’t be on the list. It’s not worth your time.
3.You keep changing your plans and reinventing the wheel as to how you are going to tackle your freelancing career. You have plans coming out of your ears, but none of them have been started let alone realized.
How to fix it: Pick one plan of attack, and just start. Stick with it for a while. You can reassess down the track. But you won’t be on a track to anywhere if you don’t start something. Let’s face it, you have probably done enough research to know which topic and approach is likely to work for you, so make use of all that research and start putting it into practice.
The bottom line is, you are not going to become a writer until you start to write. Try small things in the beginning, perhaps complete one article that no one else will see, so you know you can finish something. Perhaps you could start a very simple blog and post there (that’s two steps you would have accomplished).
Continuing to research how to do something, however, doesn’t count as actually doing it.
Your best tool is self-awareness. Is research helping you procrastinate? If it is, use all that information you have collected and put it to good use, start writing!
Penny is a relative newcomer to the freelancing world. Before taking the plunge into writing, she worked in the health sector, specifically in the fields of mental health and aged care. She aims to create content that will educate and empower readers to make decisions that take into account their most precious commodity – their heath. You can check out what she produces at www.healthfulcontent.blogspot.com