Day 7: What tends to trip you up?
Do you have lots of great ideas but have trouble choosing which one to focus on? Do you do so much research that you get overwhelmed when it comes to making a decision? Do you love generating ideas but aren’t so excited about seeing them through to the micro details?
What if these things were not detractions or blocks, just neutral facts about your preferred approach? What if it were just a matter of finding resources or people whose skills and interests complemented yours, so that the things you have listed would no longer hold you back?
Who might be able to work with you to help you work this to your advantage?
Ah, me. Any consistent reader of this blog, most of my family, and nearly any of my former editors or managers will instantly know the answer to this question: procrastination.
Partly it is precisely because I tend to over-research most anything. I want to know everything I can possibly know about a person, place, product, event, price -- well, just everything -- before I feel prepared to write about it or offer up a credit card or do a project. Once I understand everything I can possibly know, then I am ready to act.
That itself can be a non-starter, because there is ALWAYS something else to learn, some new resource or factoid to dig out. So sometimes I am just caught up in that endless research and don't get to the action part very quickly (if at all).
As a result, there are unfinished projects aplenty. I always met my deadlines as a writer and a student, but sometimes it was by a thin, fine hair. And I always knew exactly how far I could let a deadline slip without the editor getting really perturbed.
My stories -- my English papers too -- were, on a whole, pretty good, and well-researched. Some of that is because once I begin the process, I also begin the percolation process necesssary to craft a good story or paper: the part where all the facts and research filter through my mind and end up with me knowing where it will start and how it will end. That part is subconscious for me -- I just live 24/7 with the tidbits I've found or heard or read about, so once I finally sit down to write the story, it usually flows fairly easily into a draft. A long draft. Often two or three times the amount of copy needed draft. And that's because I have gathered So. Much. Information. The hard part, then, is editing it to fit the allotted word count and still having it make sense and capture the essence of the person or event or place or theory I'm writing about. Combining that with a tendency towards procrastination doesn't work very well.
It's like "Okay, that's a good story. Now it might have been GREAT if I'd had more time...." and yet, if I'd had more time, I'd still have ended up getting it done just a hair before the deadline.
Far as I can figure, the only person who can help me work with this to my advantage is ME. It involves changing something about my approach: perhaps prioritizing the importance of whatever I'm looking into rather than going full-bore nut-job research nerd on every single thing. Ah...I smell 'moderation' somewhere in that steaming pile of words.....
I do think as I have aged that I have begun to prioritize better what is worth reading a lot about and what is merely a passing fancy. And part of that is because my priority now is making my life as happy and fulfilling as I possibly can. If something doesn't contribute to that, it doesn't get top billing any more.
And I don't miss deadlines one tiny bit.