For writers wanting to turn their passion into profit, the sheer amount of information can be overwhelming. “Paralysis by Analysis” is common, and we end up reading a lot about how to get our writing off the ground, without taking any action to actually make it happen. Since a lot of information on how to make a living as a writer is often conflicting, many writing hopefuls give up out of frustration. Don’t be that person. Instead of getting frustrated and giving up, concentrate on the things that matter and that will actually help you.
Here’s how to use the great information at your disposal to your advantage, rather than letting it become a hindrance: choose items that will help you take action. Writing blogs are great, but unless they’re giving you clear steps to follow, and unless you have a plan to actually follow those steps, reading those blogs is a waste of time.
If you have time on your hands are are ready to take action, I recommend Bamidele Onibalusi of Writers in Charge (I’ve mentioned him a previous post). His website has a clear plan of action for becoming a freelance writer who actually makes a living from his/her craft. If freelance blogging is more your style, check out Be a Freelance Blogger. And if all you really want to do is write books and sell them, and you’ve already done the hard work of writing the actual books, check out how to self-publish well at The Creative Penn.
Now, if you really are ready to take action, quit over-analyzing everything, and just start writing, pitching, and marketing. There are some tangible items that can help you in this regard. Here are a few things that should definitely be on your desk if you’re starting a writing career.
1. A copy the current year’s Writer’s Market
If you buy nothing else during your journey to becoming a professional writer, buy this book. If you spend just a little more and buy the Deluxe Edition, you also get one-year access to the online publishers’ database, which is searchable. You can also buy the online access only, but I personally prefer the physical book – it’s not much more expensive, and personally, I prefer to have a print copy, so I can do this:
I will never get over my love of physical books I can hold, mark up, make notes in, and flag with post-it notes. Some people would cringe at my supposed disrespect for books, but my marking up and flagging books show the exact opposite: my deep belief that the book is worthwhile and that the information is important (I suppose I could write a post about that… maybe another day).
2. A Simple Journal
As simplistic as it may sound, a journal is every writer’s best tool, and it’s not just to jot down the random ideas that constantly pop into your head (you can use your phone or a small take-along notebook for those).
A journal is essential because the art of free-flow writing can actually help you immensely in your writing career. Stream of consciousness writing helps you to clear your brain, calm your mind, and can also unexpectedly give you ideas for your writing. Sometimes, just listening to your inner thoughts and clearing the clutter in your brain can help you become a better writer.
I recommend handwriting in a journal every day, both for the reasons above as well as because research has shown, time and again, that handwriting is good for your brain. Even if it’s just 5 minutes per day, do yourself a favour and do a brain dump on your personal journal. If you’re the super creative type, for whom writing only simply isn’t enough, invest in a journal with large, blank pages.
Because I’m somewhat obsessed with notebooks and journals, I have several of them at home. My two most used ones are my personal daily journal, in which I write stream of consciousness stuff, and the other is my Scanner Daybook, where I capture all my crazy ideas for businesses and products that I may or may not one day create. I highly recommend having both of these if you happen to be a versatile writer as well as a renaissance soul.
The Writers Den is worth every penny of the very low monthly membership fee. For US$25 monthly, you get access to excellent bootcamps (Move Up to Ghostwriting Books, Email Copywriting That Wows Clients, and How to Get Great Clients are just a few), message boards, and a no-BS job board. If you’re ready to take action, membership in the Den will help you do so.
4. The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Getting Paid for Your Writing
If you really want to transition to writing professionally but have no idea where to start, this course is for you. The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Getting Paid for Your Writing will teach you everything you need to know to get your writing career off the ground. It even includes editing for one pitch and one article of up to 1,500 words. There are more surprises and bonuses included in the class as well. This class is currently closed, but will re-open in March. Sign up for the mailing list to be notified when registration opens.
If you’re getting overwhelmed by too much information and action paralysis is setting in, I suggest keeping it simple and just using the items on this list for a little while. Do you already have some of the items on this list? I’d love to hear how they’re helping you to get your writing career off the ground.