The deepest satisfaction of writing is precisely that it opens up new spaces within us of which we were not aware before we started to write. To write is to embark on a journey whose final destination we do not know.Henri Nouwen
When accused of overthinking, it’s funny to counter with the suggestion that maybe everyone else is just underthinking. But I know I overthink. I know it because I’ve spent enough time thinking about it.
The other day, a very good friend of mine listened to me ramble — or rather complain — about all the numerous ideas in my head that I can’t put on paper. What came out of the discussion was the amount of pressure I put on myself to produce shareable work. I’ve been so focused on the desired destination that I’d forgotten to enjoy the journey.
Many of the projects I started this month were dropped, the process proving too much of a struggle to push through. My overthinking got the better of me. I’d thought my problem was either general struggles with my mental health or issues with the work itself. I convinced myself if I worked out the narrative and stylistic errors then I could progress.
However, my friend and I discovered whilst talking that my problem has likely been my approach. I’d already made the decision to share what I was working on before it was finished.
Stephen King said, “Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open. Your stuff starts out being just for you”. It’s such a basic principle of writing and yet here I was trying to write with the door open.
“Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome”, said Arthur Ashe. I’ve let the thinking distract me from the doing. So focused on the outcome, I’ve been unable to do the work to get there.
Also, too often I worry myself over carving out the right author brand. Over and over, I question the genres I write in, the forms, what is the best use of my blog, how I find my niche, etc. It sucks the fun out of it all. Personal branding makes me sound too much like a product, rather than a person.
Stopping myself from overthinking won’t be easy. If it were, every overthinker would do it. But I write this as a reminder to let passion guide the way. Whatever the detours or bumps on the road, I must learn to enjoy the journey as much as where I hope it might one day lead me. And if all the snags and missteps lead me astray or slow me down, so be it.
As Gail Tsukiyama wrote: “Even a snail will eventually reach its destination.”