Analysis Paralysis, Enemy of Writers

This morning I made a discovery—Wikipedia has an article on an interesting thing called Analysis Paralysis. When I neared the end of the article, something else caught my eye, a phrase in the “see also” section.

Writer’s block.

Writer’s block is a fitting subject to be connected with  Analysis Paralysis, which the article describes as:

The state of over-analyzing (or over-thinking) a situation so that a decision or action is never taken, in effect paralyzing the outcome… A person might be seeking the optimal or “perfect” solution upfront, and fear making any decision which could lead to erroneous results, when on the way to a better solution.

Sound familiar?

Writer friends, we do this way too often! And I think, deep down, we all know it. We’re trying to keep ourselves safe and comfortable, so we avoid blazing a new trail into the unknown. We avoid risking a fresh story that may or may not turn out to be readable. We’re a league of perfectionists, yet are bound by our occupation to fearlessly generate new material, perfect or not. This innate paradox makes writers especially vulnerable to analysis paralysis, which strikes in the form of writer’s block.

NaNoWriMo helps remind me that a writer isn’t someone who tells perfect stories or has flawless grammar. A writer writes. Period. You hardly have to think at all to be a writer. You can think about your writing if you want to, of course, but sometimes it’s good to throw caution to the wind, and write like crazy for at least a month. Show writer’s block who’s the boss. You’ve beaten it before, and you will again. Every word on the page (not every thought about writing) is a victory.

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