This week a major decision fell into my lap--on the same day that I got revisions for my next book, while I'm racing toward a June 1 deadline on another. My son got sick. The cat wanted attention. A proposal needed to be altered. My house is a mess. My hair needs to be dyed--
I posted on Facebook about being overwhelmed and forty people responded that they were too, and it struck me that in some ways being a writer is just like being anything else. You have good days. You have bad. And you can bet your boots that if you have a decision to make -- especially a big one -- you'll be so distracted your eyes will bug, your stomach will churn and you'll look at your car with the feeling you should just jump inside and take off -- and not tell anyone where you're going.
But making decisions, though not easy, can be a systematic process.
1. Get the facts. All the facts. It may take a day or two to remember every "angle" of the decision but take the time.
2. Assemble the facts. Most pundits say have a yes, do it side and a no, don't do it side. Put each fact or possibility in its appropriate category and pretty soon it'll be clear which side is longer.
3. WEIGH THE FACTS. I put this one in all caps because this is the one people sometimes forget. Not all items on your lists are created equal. For instance, if you're thinking of getting a 30-year mortgage, the fact that you're stuck with that mortgage for thirty years is more important than the fact that the house you're buying has flower beds that are already blooming. LOL Learn to weigh the facts!
4. Segregate the consequences. We blithely list as facts in our Yes/No decision list and this is a mistake. Consequences are different than facts and they need to be examined separately. Remember that thirty-year mortgage? One of the consequences of getting one of those is that you are tied up for thirty years.
5. Take your temperature. Not your body temp, but ask yourself what you want. Really? Even if a decision is difficult (as mine was) or requires more work (as mine did) sometimes you simply have a sense that something is the right thing to do and you're going to have to buckle down and do it.
Once you've gotten the facts, assembled them, weighed them, examined the consequences, and checked your gut, you're ready to decide.
So it doesn't matter if you're talking about a writing project, signing a contract, getting married, having a baby, the process is the same. Even if your gut is telling you that you desperately want to do something, take the time to examine it from all sides before you decide. :)
That's what I did. And in the midst of the chaos that is my life lately, I turned a very difficult choice into an easy decision.