There is a term called Paralysis by Analysis that refers to the phenomenon of gathering so much data and looking at a problem for so long that the resulting lack of progress or lack of a decision outweighs the benefit of performing the analysis.
I am most familiar with the term within the context of business, but it’s a problem for athletes, musicians, artists, writers and I’d venture a guess to anyone about to embark on a big decision or project.
I am there with my writing. Between reading Blogs and books on craft, I have started to write and then rejected at least six stories over the last month. The additional information I’m absorbing is all extremely valuable, but it’s intimidating and impossible to absorb entirely. Ignorance was bliss 21,000 pages into the draft novel I started several months ago and I won’t say there isn’t some salvageable material in there, but now that I’m starting to know what I don’t know, it’s almost overwhelming.
I have no sense of place! The theme is unclear! The characters don’t have enough depth! The stakes aren’t high enough! The tension isn’t high enough! I’m not saying anything new! Yikes!
Alright, that’s enough of a meltdown. I know what I need to do. I have enough information to go back to the drawing board and frame my ideas with the new insights I’ve gained. Better now than into the third or fourth revision of my first manuscript.
For the rest of the week, I’ll plot and diagram out my story, get a new draft started and I will not read anything new except good fiction so I can remember what it looks like.
It’s all about balance. Did I mention last week that’s a challenge for me?