Monday, March 12, 2012

Take the Over out of Overthink

This is something I am 100% guilty of--overthinking. I've done it all my life and never realized I was doing it till recently. In some ways, it can be good, but most of the time, it stinks. It turns into things becoming super complicated, which is totally not fun.

In writing, it has led my MS to taking forever to complete (feels like a lifetime). Why? I have gone over it and over it, adding this, deleting that, trying to twist it into something epic. I know that doesn't so sound bad, right? The problem is--I had way too much going on. In other words, I was trying way too hard and it wound up that I had way too many different plot issues and character issues that it basically became overwritten. It stinks and I guess I thought that it had to be super complicated to catch the eye of a reader or make a scene stand out.

The deal was --I had witches, and aliens along with some ghosts and fairies, can you say crowded and confusing. It was really hard for me to understand that less is more and that I need to step back and simplify. Simplify. A word that isn't used much in my vocabulary. A word that doesn't usually make an appearance in my real life. But why not? At first, I couldn't fathom it at all. Really, how do you simplify anything. Because in my real life, it felt like I looked at everything as hard, and I couldn't understand how others did it so easily. Then I realized what the reason was-- I was making it that way. I'd dwell over the stupidest things. Thinking about them over and over, which resulted in complete over complication=stress and feeling a little helpless. Even the simplest conversations were made into so much more in my head. Dumb.

So I decided to try this simplify thing. I took a step back, let out a breath and stripped things away, letting things be the way they're supposed to be. Straightforward, may be the right word. I didn't over analyze emails thinking that people didn't like me because sometimes in my head I thought they meant something else. I took it for what it was. An email. A simple, friendly conversation. Then I did it to my MS. It's funny because when I did, the story flowed better and felt light and easy. Now, I did feel a little like-- no way that's it, but others have told me to leave it alone and move on. Not to dwell.

It's not easy to simplify. I know that sounds weird to some, but it's true. The thing is you have to trust yourself and let things just be. I don't have the exact answer and I can't even fully describe how it feels, but you step back and let go. I think that's the only way to describe it.

Do you overthink? How do you stop?

Have a great day!

11 comments:

  1. It's so easy to overthink. And it's even easier to do with your manuscript!

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  2. I agree with Laura. I'm always overthinking when it comes to my ms. It doesn't help that I'm analytical. That seems to make things worse (or maybe I'm imaging that). :)

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  3. I overthink everything. It's hard.

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  4. I had to learn not to overthink. Difficult for a perfectionist!

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  5. I totally do the overthinking thing, depending on the situaion. Good for you on figuring out what needed to be fixed though and doing it!

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  6. I definitely can overthink things (especially in revisions!) but I've been trying to simplify. I'm trying not to waste my time, and overthinking is a big waste of time for me!

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  7. Oh my gosh, I overthink and overanalyze all the time. Unfortunately, I have no sage advice... just lots of instances of thinking myself to crazy!

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  8. Oh, yes. I overthink a lot of things, and my stories tend to be over-complicated in their first few drafts -- too many characters, too many side plots, too much unnecessary STUFF. I know that's a problem with my current WIP. I've had to put that project aside to work on something else for the past month, and now it's time to return to the WIP ... I'm afraid to look at it.

    I need to do what you said: Think about how I can simplify it and hone it down to what it's supposed to be.

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  9. I definitely am guilty of over-thinking. I haven't been able to stop it yet!

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  10. I have learned to trust my heart as often as I trust my brain. It has helped keep a balance, most of the time, I think...

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  11. I'm a definite over-thinker. And if you learn the secret to stopping that, please share :-)

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