Writing Tip: How to Beat Analysis Paralysis

Spinning my wheels and going nowhere fast

Wheels in Spinning ClassOkay, I’ll admit it. I’m usually quite organized. In fact, I LOVE the idea of being organized—ask my family. I work from a daily list of tasks that need to be completed. I have an agenda that keeps me on track (most of the time). And I work hard to avoid the Chasing of Chickens. If you’re not familiar with that term, click the link to check out my blog on the topic.

But for the last three months I’ve struggled with what I call Analysis Paralysis—both in my writing and my marketing duties. Because one effects the other.

You see, one look at the list of items I need to tackle to properly market my two novels and my brain freezes. My mind screams at me, “How can you possibly take the time necessary to complete this gargantuan task and still finish your current work in progress in time for the deadline?” So I run off to the writing. And while I’m writing, my brain is whispering to me (in an evil voice) that I should be spending more time marketing my other two novels.

Common sense tells me that something has to give way…that I can’t do it all.

But is it really common sense talking to me, or is this a trick that allows me to find an easy way out? An excuse, to not tackle the hard thing?

Our brain tries to trick us

A wise writing mentor told me years ago that our mind will always take the easy way out, including during our writing process. He explained that we must consistently be on the lookout for this insidious talent our brain demonstrates on a daily basis.

During the writing process the brain takes the path of least resistance…choosing the easy sentence vs the more complex one…the easy description vs the more colorful, intense one. This is all fine for a first draft. But when we go back through to edit the piece that is when we must force our brains to work harder…to make the writing better than the easy way out.

Analysis ParalysisSo when I look at the huge task of all things “marketing” that I need to do, it overwhelms me and my brain finds the easy way out. It tells me I need to shove it all aside and instead pound away at the keyboard, working on my novel. Meanwhile, my other two books are being neglected and are not finding their way to all of the readers who could be enjoying them.

It’s true that my game plan is a long-term, broad one—of getting more books written and published quickly vs promoting one book for four years while I work on the next one. BUT, if I’m honest with myself, I have to admit there are still tasks that I should be doing to bring my already two published books to the readers, so they can find them amid the six million other books listed on Amazon and other venues.

 Baby Steps

Baby StepsThe one thing I have preached over and over to the readers of my blogs, is to take that first step. Even if it’s only a baby step. You didn’t learn to walk the first time you tried. You fell down—a lot. But you kept getting up and taking those wobbly baby steps. And soon you were toddling along quite nicely. Walking became easy. Then you learned to run, and you were off!

So I must take my own advice and take that first baby step. Here’s what I came up with as a game plan for myself. Maybe you will find it helpful. Or it will inspire you to make your own game plan and take those first baby steps.

Game Plan 

First Baby Steps: I’m pretty good at getting my books out there on Twitter, but I could be more consistent. And I have neglected sharing my blogs and writing news with other Facebook Groups that I belong to (which takes readers back to my website – where my books are). Time to set up a schedule that I can easily follow for sharing content on Social Media.

Note: as you know, the trick with Social Media is to share content that takes readers to your website & books, without looking like you are constantly selling or promoting your books. It takes practice. Watch those who do it successfully. Learn.

Toddling Along: I’m going to take a couple of mornings off from the novel and start writing up a list of tasks that I think might help publicize my two books. I’ll list everything I can think of – even if it’s something I don’t think I’ll end up doing. Brainstorm ideas. Over the last six months, I’ve book-marked lots of blogs and self-help articles for future reading. Now is that time to read them, and put everything together to create a master Marketing Plan. I must do this in steps, otherwise it feels too overwhelming. I’m still very much a toddler at this stage.

Learning to run: Once I have a master Marketing Plan to refer to, I’ll next break down the tasks into bite-size pieces. Some of the tasks I know I need to do are ones I don’t want to do. But by taking little steps each day, they will not look so formidable to accomplish. And even though they are still baby steps, I’ll be moving forward. And as I accomplish each little task, I’ll gain more experience and more confidence. Eventually, even the bigger more intimidating projects will not thwart me from facing the task and completing it.

The Bottom Line

I believe we all understand the concept of breaking our big tasks into bite-size smaller tasks and have used it successfully in the past. But, even though we ‘know’ this, we often ignore it. Our brain goes back to wanting to take the easy route and we simply follow along. I hope this reminder for myself helps you find your way back as well. Let’s crack that whip and make our brains do the hard work. Then we can move forward and run to our next accomplishment.


What Tricks do You Employ to Beat Analysis Paralysis?


  1. Lynne Kennedy

    Excellent article, Indy. I’ve been doing this writing/marketing thing for several years now, and it doesn’t get better. Honest. It’s just the new world of publishing. Your new plan is a good one. I’ve been backing off the marketing a bit and getting more into writing. After all, that is what I really enjoy! I wish you the best. Let me know how things go.

    • indy

      I hear ya! My biggest problem has been that I was using my writing as an excuse not to do the hard work of marketing, because of course I’d rather be writing! Ha I agree that finding that balance is the real trick – which I think you have done well at mastering!

  2. Jill G. Hall

    I agree it can all be overwhelming. I focus by trying to post on my FB author page at least six days a week. I’ve made it a fun challenge to take interesting photos, find visuals on Pinterest and also good articles.

    • indy

      Thanks for taking time to comment, Jill. And for sharing your FB game plan. I agree that your posts ARE fun and interesting! ;0)

  3. Lois Joy Hofmann

    You’ve hit the nail on the head, describing what I’m facing right now. My
    Amazon report yesterday showed a dribbble of buyers for my second book, Sailing the South Pacific, and none for the first, Maiden Voyage. I’m so busy focusing on getting my third and final book in the series published, and preparing for a family reunion, that I’m neglecting marketing. But there are too few hours a day to do both effectively. That’s always the author’s conundrum.

    • indy

      Indeed it is, Lois! I’m hoping to find an efficient way to concentrate the majority of time on writing, but do a little task everyday or so on the marketing. Then, once in a while I’ll spend a day concentrating mostly on the marketing. That way maybe I don’t fall so far behind on my duties. Just one little bit each day is better than the nothing I’ve been doing! Ha! Thanks for commenting and Best wishes on Book Three. Write on!


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