Why, as a writer, it’s important to understand the difference.
It’s good to do some research as you set out on your writing career, or seek to move farther along in it. However, it’s even more important to stay aware of where you’re at: Are you actively doing things that push your career forward or are you stuck in research/prep mode?
Are you still researching niches, researching author platforms, researching, researching, researching?
Beware of the allure of the research siren. Her song is beautiful and seductive. It promises to protect you from any and all rejection or disappointment if you just prepare enough. Plus, she has cupcakes and tacos. For real. Tacos.
But, and this is a big BUT here, she is still a siren. She will lure you towards her risky, rocky shore, your boat shattering and splintering as the waves crash over you and your fears. She will haul you out of the water, if you are lucky, but only so she can gleefully toss you back in again just before you start writing. She is a wicked foe.
Avoid getting too tied up with the research siren. Avoid the trap of needing to be “ready” to write — just write, my friend.
Also, remember to be on alert for the sex appeal of “learning” how/what/where to write. Are you actually learning things you can and will apply, or are you stuck in learning mode? Are you putting off what you are ready to do today, in hopes it’ll be easier or less scary tomorrow?
Don’t do that.
Just sit your butt down and write, right now!
The devil is in the designing.
Do you keep tweaking your author website or your landing page instead of writing because “what-if I go viral, I better be ready!”?
Don’t do that.
Set up a simple subscribe page you can link to for now. Test the sign-up link. Then? Just sit your butt down and write.
Seriously, you can have the prettiest, most professional, slickest author website that was ever invented, but if you aren’t actually writing things people want to read, well? No one, except maybe your great Aunt Janice, is gonna give two hoots about your “author platform.”
What do you write about?
What is in it for your readers?
These are two things you must answer way before you spend 13.7 weeks writing the About page for your shiny new website.
Because, as a reader, I do not give one fig, not even a tenth-of-a-fig, about your website or About page if I don’t find your writing engaging, enlightening, and/or entertaining.
Put aside the research and start writing.
What your readers need is for you to write and then write some more, then keep writing, continue letting your voice mature — above all else, just keep writing.
Because, truthfully, the only way to find your audience is to begin writing and see how it connects with what you have to say and why.
So, please, check-in with yourself periodically on your ratio of preparing versus producing.
Be honest with yourself.
If you’re still researching, building a platform, or any other form of “getting ready,” I urge you to take a step back and ask yourself why?
Why aren’t you writing yet?
And please don’t get me wrong — it’s OK to continue researching as needed, as long as doing that research isn’t a little hidey-hole to avoid actually writing. The only for sure way to become a writer is to just write.
This was originally published in The Brave Writer on Medium.