Life is full of decisions, and they can eat you up if you let them.
Where should we eat for dinner? Should I apply for that job on the west coast or not? What color socks should I wear with my new shorts?
Many times we get caught up quibbling with ourselves over minutiae of choices like this.
And this isn’t just reserved for real-life situations. I’ll bet it happens all the time in your writing, right?
Authors Have Lots of Choices
Some common decisions that writers face include:
- In which genre should I write my next book?
- Is this story a short, a novella, a novel?
- Should my protagonist be male or female?
- What should I name my book?
- Should I publish to KDP Select or “go wide”?
And on and on and on.
These are important decisions and can impact both your artistic profile and your bottom line. But every minute you spend wringing your hands over these and other questions is a minute you’ll never get back, and a minute that you haven’t spent writing.
In the vernacular of the Pareto Principle, agonizing over fairly minor decisions fall firmly into the inefficient 80% of writing activities.
But what are you to do? I mean, you have to make decisions in life, and you can’t just pluck options out of a hat.
Maybe not, but that doesn’t mean your progress has to grind to a halt every time you have to make a pick.
You’re on the Clock
Instead, when you come to a decision point that requires some deliberation, put a time box around your choice. After all, once you’ve been through a few rodeos with writing, you know the pros and cons of each direction you might take, so there is no need to make simple choices into elaborate exercises.
Most of the time, you should be able to pull the trigger on your path within a minute.
That may sound harsh and drastic, but it’s usually realistic.
The process goes like this:
- You come to a fork in your writing road.
- You see the two or three options in front of you.
- You run through the choices in your mind, noting the pros and cons of each.
- You pick the one that, based on your experiences and your preferences, makes the most sense for your writing goals.
And that’s it.
When you first try this out, you might actually set up a timer just so you get used to the pace of making quick decisions. After a few go-rounds, it will feel normal and natural.
Choose and Move On
Of course, there will be times when you come up against a monumental decision for which you have little background. In those instances, by all means, do your research. But even then, don’t stress out for days and weeks on end. Make your choice and move on.
Rarely is a mistake so drastic that you cannot recover, and, most of the time, “mistakes” open new opportunities that you would not have had otherwise.
Like more time to write.