Currently, I’m fascinated with the subject of how people find their own unique paths to success. There is no shortage of advice out there on the topic. You could spend the better part of your life reading blogs and books and by the time you got to bottom of your list, another twelve hundred would have been published on how to be happy, make decisions, find your passion, be successful.
This coming Saturday I’ll be giving a talk to my local Romance Writers of America chapter called “Adapting The 4-Hour Work Week to the Writer’s Life.” I’ve been reviewing Tim Ferris‘s book to that end, but also incorporating concepts from several other related books. In fact, just today I found out about yet another book by Simon Sinek, Start With Why, that seems to apply to the topic. Obviously, I can’t thoroughly incorporate the ideas from all my sources in a 30 minute talk. Indeed, at this point I should be winnowing my notes, not adding to them. But the search for just one more piece of information is seductive.
Tim Ferris recommends going on an information diet. He suggests that too much information can be paralyzing (as Barry Schwartz says in The Paradox of Choice). Set a short deadline for yourself, Ferris says. Gather just enough info, just before you need it, then make a decision and go forward. That’s how I used to write my papers in college, and it works, mostly.
However today, as a professional writer, I don’t like the idea of limiting the amount of information I see and read. That’s one of the differences between writing non-fiction and fiction: I never know when something will become the seed for my next story. Like many writers, I keep an Idea File of newspaper and magazine articles. Sampling a variety of ideas is part of my job.
I can’t argue with the fact that gathering information can become an end in itself, and a substitute for action. Eventually, there comes a time when you have to say, “Enough.” Usually when a deadline is looming. 🙂