2018: Thinking Less, Doing More

Happy New Year!

Yes, I know, I’m eight days late. It’s not my fault. My children have only gone back to school this morning, and the cold that decided to show up on New Year’s Day has finally receded to the point where I can stop counting the seconds until I can take my next dose of decongestant.

I’ve already done my look back over 2017, so I suppose I should do that look-forward-to-2018 thing. By the way, I’m not at all happy about it being 2018. It still feels too sci-fi for me. Like, where are the flying cars and stuff? Also, typing this has just made me realise that I put the wrong year on the kids’ dinner money cheques. Oh well. Hopefully they’ll feed them anyway.

Anyway, 2018. What will that be for? I’m not making resolutions as such this year, not publicly at least, because I invariably don’t keep them. But I’ve developed a new motto over the last few days as I’ve been trying to gear up into a new, positive, 2018-suitable mindset, and it’s this: Think less, do more. (Yes, that’s a comma splice, and no, I don’t care. No one puts semicolons in peppy inspirational mottoes.)

I’m a thinker. Normally, that’s a good thing – you can’t, after all, do a job like mine if you’re not willing and able to think carefully about what your client is trying to say and if you can help them say it more effectively. But overthinking can get in the way of progress. This is true in editing: we’ve all had those moments where we’ve gone over and over a sentence, knowing there are a few different options for correcting or improving it, not knowing which is the best one, and at some point you’ve just got to take a deep breath, make a decision, make or suggest the change, and move on to the next problem. And it’s true in life, but it can be much, much harder to take that breath and make that choice. Sometimes we know what we need to do, but if we think too much about it, we start to make excuses about why we don’t have to do it right now. We persuade ourselves that a better option might present itself. We get scared that a decision may take us down a path that isn’t quite the right one. And so we can never move on to the next problem, because we haven’t let ourselves solve the first one.

So I’m going to try and turn off my brain a little. Not too much – I’m not advocating acting on every random whim with no regard for the consequences. But I’m going to identify a thing that needs doing, think about it just enough to conclude that it’s not a ridiculous thing, and then do that thing. And I’m off to a good start – fifty minutes ago I decided I was going to blog, and now I have.

Here’s to a more productive 2018!

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