Have you ever read Aesop’s Fables? One of my favorites is The Fox and the Cat. It’s one of the first stories discussing analysis paralysis – spending so much time analyzing a situation that you never act.
As the fable goes, the Fox and the Cat discuss escaping from hunters. The Fox boasts of all the myriad ways he has of deftly escaping the hunters’ hounds. The Cat, on the other hand, meagerly admits to only having one escape plan.
As it happens, the hunters’ hounds come to bear on the Fox and the Cat. The Cat escapes by climbing up into a tree where the hounds cannot reach her. The Fox, on the other hand, spends so much time trying to decide which of his many options is best that the hounds catch him before he can choose his escape plan.
Breaking into writing for a living is frought with the same issues. You can spend so much time researching and reading about HOW to start a freelance writing career that you never actually DO anything. Tell me if these sound familiar:
If I could just figure out what to put on my resume, I could start applying for writing jobs.
I have to really research these publications before I submit a piece or send a query.
As soon as I have a resume, my website, and a few writing credits, I can get started on my freelance writing goals.
If I learned more about how to find clients and get traffic to my site, I could make more money.
I don’t know enough yet to start applying for writing gigs or sending out query letters to print publishers. I have to do more research before I’m ready.
Yeah, okay. I get it. We’ve all had those ideas. There is a lot to learn to become a successful writer. But you can’t learn it all before you decide to do something. It’s easy to let yourself hide behind that “I need to <insert overanalyzing activity here> before I…” Sometimes, you don’t even realize you’ve been over analyzing a decision until you’ve spent 3 months researching or “trying to get to” things on your list and STILL have not taken the first step toward actually DOING anything.
But at some point, you have to decide which you’re going to be…the Fox, or the Cat?