Is analysis paralysis killing your creativity?
It’s been happening to me lately.
I went through dozens of different drafts before I made it to writing this post.
I wanted to make sure the subject matter was worth writing about.
It didn’t feel good. I felt rigid. I was putting too much pressure on myself over it.
After all of the back and forth, I figured, “why not write a post about not knowing what to write about?”
Everybody wants to find their voice, their niche, their subject, their purpose. They want certainty that they should write about a certain subject.
Today I’m going to share some ways to think about the subject you choose to write about that will hopefully take away some of the pressure and let you do what matters most — the work.
It’s Okay to Change Your Mind
How many of your friends went to college for a certain type of degree but got a job in an entirely different field? It happens all of the time. Think of the subject you write about the same way. If you try writing about a certain subject and it isn’t a good fit, it’s not like you’re locked into it for life.
I started off writing about personal development, but I wanted to broaden my subject matter and talk about new things I’ve learned about like writing and creativity. Maybe I’ll write about all three in the future.
It doesn’t matter.
The only thing that matters is practicing the craft and honing your voice in the process. If you plan on making a career out of writing, switching between different subjects is almost inevitable, just like any other type of career.
It’s more important to test the water. You can read 100 more blog posts about picking blog posts topics or you can test the topics.
Make a small commitment to writing about a certain subject for a certain period of time to see if you like it. If you like it, keep writing about it. If you don’t, move onto something else. Either way, you’re building and growing more skilled.
I worked as a pizza delivery boy, a salesman, and a project manager. Skills I’ve gained in each of those jobs has helped in with writing and marketing my work.
I’m writing about writing now, but personal development is intertwined with writing and other creative fields because it takes grit to succeed in them.
You’re worried about wasting time, but you’re already wasting time by not doing anything.
When it comes to writing, nothing’s ever wasted.
Niche is Overrated
If focusing too much on your niche inhibits creativity and keeps you from taking action, it’s doing more harm than good.
Your niche is human beings with emotions and brains. Tap into those two things and you’ll find people to read your writing. Think about who you want to help and how you can help them. The only thing you should avoid is making your writing all about yourself.
What problems do you see in the world that you can offer solutions to? Write about that.
What are some things you’ve gone through in the past you wish you could have advised yourself on? Give that advice to other people.
What’s obvious to you that doesn’t seem apparent to others? Get on your soapbox.
Niche is necessary to an extent, but instead of waiting for it to find you, write your way into finding it.
Your voice matters most. That’s what people read your work for.
For the most part, everything’s been said. Your favorite writers are your favorite writers because of the way they say what’s already been said before.
Us writers are like prisms. The subject shines through us and comes out of each of us a little bit differently.
If you focus on the way you say things, it won’t matter what you write about.
Make Little Bets
I agonized over what to write about because I wanted it to be great. I wanted to make sure it helped everyone that read it. But if you try to please everybody you end up pleasing nobody.
Instead, I’ll use this post as a “little bet” towards my future.
In the book Little Bets, author Peter Sims talks about the process of finding success by conducting small experiments.
He use comedian Chris Rock as an example of the strategy.
He goes to small comedy clubs to test out his jokes. Some of them bomb horribly. That doesn’t phase him. The whole point is to find out what works without any preconceived notions.
The audience decides which jokes are good and which aren’t. The process gets repeated over and over til it’s just right. If a joke hits at every club he visits he knows it’s worthy of the routine.
It may take him a year of testing jokes before his routine is refined enough to have an hour’s worth of HBO special worthy material. If he tried putting a one hour act together without testing it in bits and pieces the results could be disastrous.
The little bets method is the opposite of perfectionism.
Edit your work, but release it at some point. Keep making little bets as often as you can until you get your voice and subject matter just right.
You could let another year go by without making a decision, or you could publish something every day and have 365 bets toward a better writing future.
Which one sounds like a better strategy?
The Truth About Procrastination in Writing
I’ve been agonizing over what I’d write next because I was afraid. Pretending that I wanted my next post to be just right was a form of hiding.
I’ve been growing and more people have viewed my work. It’s been causing me to worry about their reactions, which is the best way to kill my creativity.
I’m glad a few people choose to read my words, but at the end of the day it shouldn’t and doesn’t matter if anyone reads them.
This is my little bet. It’s a speck of dust compared to my future body of work (if I’m going to have this long career I think I’ll have). I’ll make thousands of additional little bets until one pays off. Then I’ll make a thousand more. That’s how you succeed in writing or anything else.
Every second you worry about what topic you want to write about, what software you’re going to use, how you’re going to market yourself on social media, or anything other than actually writing, is a second you could’ve spent doing the work.
Be honest with yourself? Are you unsure of a topic to write about or are you just unsure of yourself?
Make your little bet today, tomorrow, and the next day. After a while, you’ll have grown so much you can write about whatever the hell topic you want.
By Ayodeji Awosika