How Do I Get Past the Overwhelming Feeling of Not Knowing Where to Start?

I can see it now. It’s 5:00 on Friday, and you’ve finally had it. You just know you’re not meant to live a life filled with stress from a job that, quite frankly, isn’t the least bit fulfilling. Yet, through all of this, one nagging notion remains in the back of your mind. You’re astutely aware of the fact that you’ve always been a strong writer. …Perhaps you should do something about that.

You start to research how to write for a living, and come across all the lucky stars out there who not only freelance, but make a healthy living out of it! You’re sold. The pending weeks at your current job don’t seem so heavy anymore, because you have a new future and it’s looking bright!

How Do I Get Past the Overwhelming Feeling of Not Knowing Where to Start?

You’re aware you’ve always been a strong writer. But, where do you start?

But, where do you even start? …I felt this way not too long ago. Luckily, I stumbled upon some real gems who have been guiding me these past few months. I’d like to share with you five manageable ways to make those dreams come true, and return your smile back to your life.

Pick One or Two Experts (Just to Start)

When you’re in the real infancy of your development, research and hone in on one or two experts only.

We all know the saying about too many cooks in the kitchen. It becomes overwhelming (and turns into a great disservice to yourself) if you’re heeding the advice of twelve helpful hearts all at once.

It’s like an avalanche of loveliness. Just because everything you’re reading is helpful and meaningful, doesn’t mean it won’t bury you. Read the websites and blogs of various writers. See who catches your eye. See who writes in a style that connects with you. Follow your gut, always!


Sign Up for a Course

Make the investment, even if it means borrowing from Peter to pay Paul. There are so many courses out there that are well-designed, and follow a proper sequence for getting started.

Lizzie Davey stole my heart first. Her sweet nature just pours through the screen. Elna Cain quickly became a trusted source. Likewise, Jorden Roper leaped off the page and into my notes. However, I read through one course at a time; I read their e-mails and tweets, with a focus on one lady at a time. I moved through each expert’s plethora of helpful advice and friendly tips individually and separately.

Presently, I’m a faithful follower of 10-12 guys ‘n gals!

Buy a Notebook!

So many golden nuggets are going to be flung at you; you must keep track and circle back. I guess notebooks are too old school now. A simple Word doc will do the trick! This way, when it’s time to construct your About page, you’ll know just where all those golden goodies are. Do whatever works for you, but write it all down! It’s too much to retain all at once.

You can even try your hand at a writer’s notebook.

Tackle One Task a Day

 My fantastic teachers were gentle teachers, thankfully. They began with exciting topics like setting up your office, getting your mind set. I read through two or three of those lessons a day.

It was fun! When you get into the meat of it, though (i.e. creating your About Page), tackle one thing at a time. You want to understand how to complete this hefty task; read others’ About pages; then start writing your very important copy. Don’t overload and try to create your About Page, your Hire Me page, and your portfolio links all in one stretch. Take it piece by piece.

The beautiful thing is you can edit everything as you go. You’re not locked into your About page or your Services page for eternity. Put it together, as best you know how and, at any given stage, you can make a change!

Pull a Nike

Just do it!

When you find yourself in a place where you don’t really have many more edits to nitpick over, just do it. Publish your site and get yourself out there. Send a pitch or three. Just do it! You’ll never know your fate if you don’t start rowing along with the rest.

I hope you won’t spend too much time stuck in the mud. All those famous clichés hold true. You won’t know until you try. Put your best foot forward. Take a systematic approach, focus in on one or two gurus to start, and then spread those freelancing wings and fly! Good luck!

Kit Kittelstad is a Freelance Writer and Adjunct Communications Professor who has been proofreading and editing writing pieces for ten years. She also crafts higher education and lifestyle blog posts for businesses, increasing their online visibility with a blend of artful articulation and professional pizzazz.

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Hi, Kyle! Gosh – I replied to you the weekend I read your response! I guess it didn’t go through. What I wanted to tell you was to kind of go with the “three-month” rule. Just for three months, treat life like you’re working two full-time jobs. Work your unfulfilling 9-5 and then go home and write articles to guest post on publications within your niche. Build your portfolio and definitely build your own website. (I love WordPress; their support team is phenomenal.) Then, with some samples in hand, start applying out on those job boards (ProBlogger, Paid To Blog). Don’t drag your feet through these, say, 60-hour work weeks. (And don’t go out too often, lol, bc you want to try to save as much money as you can to buffer your initial attempts at making this a full-time gig.) Think of this span of time as the key to unlocking the door to your happiness. With that, all the efforts might just seem exciting, not exhausting. I know it’s hard. It’s so easy to say, “Push through!” But, when life’s just being plain ‘ol precarious, it’s easier said than done. It’s a bit of a mind over matter affair, though. Work your tail feathers off for three months, then let your positioning at the end of that time dictate your next move. I hope this helps! I had a nice mentor when I was first starting out. If you ever want to shoot me a line, I’m just a click away: [email protected]. Good luck! -KitReply to Kit
Hi Kit, I experienced one of those, “I think she’s really talking to me”, moments while reading your article. I’m actively diving into freelance process research, network building, niche research, pitch ideas, etc. I’m trying to part ways with my stressful, unfulfilling, but somewhat well paying 9-5 job. In your opinion, is it at all prudent to quit the menial job in hopes that very (very) modest savings and small personal loans can float a person long enough to land a handful of paid writing gigs? The safe thing to do seems to be to write on the side while maintaining the steady 9-5. The thought that keeps clawing at me is, “No reward without risk. The greater the risk, the greater the potential reward. 20% of time toward a writing career can only yield 20% success. Take the plunge!” I would be ecstatic about any gig that amounted to something like minimum wage. I am truly at odds with the choices. I appreciate any thoughts and wisdom you can bestow. Thank you! -KyleReply to Kyle
Hi Deb! I’m so glad this might’ve lit a spark for you! I’m the saaaaame way; I could study, review, and then review again before diving in. I’m sure this tendency we have is good for something, though! We just have to catch ourselves somehow when it’s hindering, not helping. I wish you all the best, Deb! Go get ’em!Reply to Kit
I must thank you for this post! I am addicted to ‘process porn’, and as a result I’ve wound up in ‘analysis paralysis”. Time for me to step back from all the blogs and focus on my own! I will take your suggestions to heart.Reply to Deb
Hi Frosina! I’m so glad my little article made you smile 🙂 …I know, it’s soooo hard to just do it! Like you say, perfectionists second guess and second guess before finally hitting that “publish” button on their website! But, at some point, I guess we just have to trust the gift we’ve been given and have some fun with it! I wish you much luck and good fortune, Frosina!Reply to Kit
Hi Kit, Thank you for covering this important topic. I agree with every point you made. Taking it easy and not putting too much pressure on ourselves is something we writers often forget. The hardest part for me was to pull a Nike on it :), due to my relentless perfectionism, but I finally did it! Much respect to all the superstar experts like Elna, Jorden, Lizzie, Carol and Sophie – to name a few – that have been showing us constantly how it’s done.Reply to Frosina