How many times have you had to make a creative decision and have been caught up in analytical paralysis? Did you get caught in a shiver trying to decide the simplest things like: B. Which character name should you choose? Or are they bigger creative problems that you want to end your story with?
Analysis paralysis is the state of rethinking and second guessing which choice to make.
You might face one of the following scenarios:
- Are you overwhelmed with the plethora of options available?
- Are you overcomplicating the decision when to make it easy?
- Are you tortured by fear that you will have to make the "perfect" choice?
- Are you afraid of making the wrong choice?
- Worried about what others might think of your decision?
Let's look at the Latin and Greek roots of these words:
"Dissolving everything complex into simple elements" (opposite of synthesis) from medieval Latin analysis (15c.),
from the Greek analysis "Solving a problem through analysis," literally "a breaking up, a loosening, solving", noun of analyein “Release, let go, free; to lose a ship from its berths "
"Impairment of the normal functioning of the nervous system when moving parts of the body or organs"
from Latin paralysisfrom the Greek paralysis "Paralysis, paralysis," literally "loosening" of Paralyein "Deactivate, weaken"
of para "Besides" (see paragraph (1)) + Lyein "Loosen, loosen" (from PIE root * leu- "loosen, divide, cut apart"). Figurative meaning "loss of energy, loss of ability to perform regular functions"
Have you ever experienced an analysis paralysis? Do you tend to rethink your decisions until you feel paralyzed and unable to make a decision?
How creatives overcome Analysis paralysis – 7 tips
Creative people are often confronted with analytical paralysis. Writers often call this writing pad. Filmmakers are often faced with a choice between two different actors or DoPs, and delay and delay a project. If any of these situations sound familiar to you, you've come to the right place.
Personally, I refrain from being an annoying perfectionist, someone who races to the finish line with an eye for details (like typing errors!) And causing embarrassing chaos that causes me painful dismay and sleepless nights!
In this article, I'll try to share what I've learned about performing raindance over the past thirty years. Most days I have a lot of decisions to make, mostly small ones. But every few days I have to make a mid-term decision, and a few times a year I have to make an important decision – one that will affect the future of Raindance for the next few months or even years.
1. Is it a big decision or a small decision?
The biggest lesson I learned was how to put the decisions I had to make into two piles: big and small. My anal side is pushing me to make a list. If you were next to me in the Raindance office, you'd see my little black book of list pages.
Every time I face a decision, I ask myself these three simple questions:
- How important is this decision?
- What are the effects of this decision – is it short-term? Or long?
- It all goes wrong, what's the worst that can happen?
When the decision doesn't make a difference in a month or two, and when a bad decision doesn't have serious consequences, it's a small decision. Just do it. Watch the effects. Then go on.
What makes a big decision?
Sometimes you face a decision that will have an impact in a year or more. Sounds like a big decision! In other cases, you are aware of the implications of a bad decision. This could result in a tangle down the line that takes a tremendous amount of energy to sew. This is a big decision. Don't do what I've done too many times in the past and hurry up. Take the time to weigh all of the options.
Few decisions are as important as you think they are. Often they have very little effect on our careers. Few decisions can affect your career in the long term.
Examples of small decisions:
- What kind of cell phone will you buy
- Which movie will you watch and study?
- which lens should be used for a camera
Examples of medium-term career decisions:
- What city will you live in
- whether you should collaborate with someone on a project
- Which organizations / schools should you join?
Examples of big career decisions:
- whether to sign a long-term contract with an agency / producer / director
- Which creative career path should you go?
- Decide on your personal branding
- maintain a personal relationship / start a family
Before making any big decisions, it is a good idea to look at your career goals.
2. What is your goal?
In November 2020, I attended a board meeting for the British Independent Film Awards. We discussed the future of awards. So many arts organizations, theaters and cinemas have been decimated by COVID. We struggled with the process of transforming BIFA into a charity. I have been grappling with this question since BIFA was founded in 1998.
The BIFAs have been more or less the same since I was founded in 1998. When the new directors joined in 2015, they brought with them very ambitious plans to expand the company and raise its profile. To do this, we need more staff and resources. Given the nature of the film organization, it seems like an obvious decision to apply for charity status. However, as anyone who runs a private business knows, there are certain advantages to avoiding the corporate restrictions that a charity would bring. We fidgeted.
Then a board member I respect very much asked three simple questions:
- What do you want to achieve?
- How do you measure success?
- Who is your audience
Impressive! I could see the future immediately. And I could measure success by manifesting a future with no financial burden.
I think these 3 questions are great for filmmakers too. Why do you want to do this film? Are you there for the money or for the glory of the festival awards? And who do you think will be drawn to your film when it is finished?
By the way, should you ever struggle to decide who your audience is, check out the brilliant strategy that Dr. Kira-Anne Pelican in her Deep Characterization class.
3. Are you suffering from the curse of perfectionism?
Nothing in life or in filmmaking is perfect. At least I learned. You will likely have very specific goals for your writing and filmmaking. But what if you can't get there?
Additionally, you could fall into the rabbit hole of perfectionism.
Filmmaker, colleague and film director Simon Hunter has very clear advice. If you wait for the perfect script, you will put it off forever. Simon's advice is to realize that no script is ever perfect. Just make sure it's good enough.
Perfectionists might be shocked to hear this. They will argue that all you should be doing is striving for perfection in any creative project. I do not agree.
Let me explain.
Let's say you have a really good idea that you are giving birth to. It could be a piece of music, a script, or a movie. Suppose you need something or someone to be available for the perfect piece. That rarely happens. As artists, we always use available resources and they are rarely, if ever, perfect.
I've learned that you make your creative decisions with what you have on hand. and keep going. Unless, of course, you have an important decision to make. If this happens, don't rush. Take the time to explore the options available.
4. Can you identify bad options?
There were times when I made a long list of options. The list can get very long. As a result, I've found that my thinking is becoming cluttered.
See if you can work out the bad decisions and end up with two or three options. Then go back to number 2 above:
Are you wondering which choices will best serve your primary goal?
5. Which childhood stories still paralyze you?
I have a dear friend here in London who seems paralyzed by a simple decision in a grocery store. Which toothpaste to buy? Or in which supermarket to shop. However, when faced with big decisions, e.g. For example, you can decide in no time which house to buy or where to go on vacation.
It turned out that her parents always reminded her to be thrifty. It turns out they have been heavily criticized for making the wrong decision about simple household items.
Celestine Chua would call these childhood stories.
Scurrying between two small objects that are essentially the same isn't a big deal at all. What is the difference? A few cents? It is the fear of buying the "wrong thing" and being thrown back into the fear of being judged by a parent or mentor. And bingo! Analysis paralysis.
I grew up in a religious sect – the gentle people. I was told that it was wrong to go to the cinema because the devil was housed there. It took me a long time to realize the tremendous power and utility of films. Only when I had overcome my so-called “childhood stories” could I begin a life in films and start raindance.
6. Can you set a deadline?
Another variant of the analysis paralysis is based on the Parkinson's law.
Parkinson's Law is the saying that "the work expands to fill the time available to complete it".
If you allow an hour to complete a task, it will take exactly 60 minutes. If you set a three-week deadline for completing a draft, it will take three weeks. If you start a creative project and don't set a deadline, you'll never get done.
Whenever I am asked to write a blog post, I ask "What is the deadline?" I can then schedule it.
I am also in the enviable position of being given many different opportunities. That's what I love about my job at Raindance. I've learned to allocate a time budget to every new project, and I keep track of the logs of every phone call, email I have to write, and every meeting. I will devote 10 hours to some new opportunities. Another 100 hours. The time I budget for depends on whether it's a big or a small opportunity. That really helped me manage my time.
If you have a deadline and exceed the allotted time, you run the risk of spending time making a decision that isn't worth it.
7. Do you have a mentor?
It's really important to be able to come up with ideas with someone you trust.
When I started Raindance, I was very lucky to have two or three people with whom I could exchange ideas. I didn't always agree with them. But I always felt that the time they gave me helped clear my decision-making skills. And I felt much more confident about making decisions that were unorthodox and disruptive.
Raindance has a number of mentors on a variety of filmmaking topics, from scripting to directing to production. This is a paid service, but it can be helpful to seek advice from an industry practitioner.
I learned a painful lesson about analytical paralysis. It usually means that I was obsessed with tiny details. The Cure? Ask yourself why you have that extra time on these tiny details. Ask yourself if there are bigger creative goals you can set for yourself. Can you write new blog posts, create new videos, learn new skills?
I think you will find that any evidence of analytical paralysis is removed as you set more ambitious creative goals. These small and small decisions are made quickly. And you and your creative projects will move to the next level.