Don’t Over Think It

Some of the best writing advice I ever received wasn’t actually writing advice. It was a handful of wise words from my mother, who often used them to calm down her daughter (that would be me) when she was dead center in a Type A maelstrom:

Don’t over think it.

“What do you mean, ‘Don’t over think it?’” I would moan. “My article is due in less than three hours, and I’ve started and stopped so many times I’ve lost count. Seriously, I’ve got nothing.”

Calmly, my mom would repeat her advice, and then follow with a suggestion to get up and do something else for awhile, which I always thought was crazy talk because my article was due in three hours! But, despite myself, I would listen, rise from behind my computer, pace around the room, do something menial like get a cup of water or straighten the photos on my wall, and, invariably, the words would come.

Anytime I’m blocked, whether the project is big or small, or the articulation just won’t come, I always hear my mom’s voice encouraging me to get out of my own way. Because, more often than not, the simplest approach is usually the most effective.

In the interest of honesty, the idea for this post came from just such an occasion. I’d been pondering for days what living wide lesson I’d recently encountered, and though I’ve had several, none of my ideas were working. Believe me, I got up from behind my computer quite a few times in hopes of inspiring clarity, but nothing seemed right. And then, I heard my mom’s voice.

Her encouragement to not over think things is the perfect synopsis of what it means to live wide. More often than not, we are our own worst enemy. We let our inner critic get the better of us, and we try to over complicate something that truly is very simple.

So get up, go wash a few dishes, shuffle a few papers or get out into the sunlight. I promise, the solution will surface so quickly, it will feel like it was always there.

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6 thoughts on “Don’t Over Think It

  1. Hi there. Since many long years past I have had to remind myself of the same simple action :) your blog very much hits home with me :) gonna remember to get out there and get a little sunshine and feel the wind on my face.

  2. Your mom is very wise and so is her daughter to follow her advice. I often have to remind myself and my students that walk away from it mantra. Thanks so much for the clear reminder! As always your words bring home the simplest truths I often forget.
    In my life, my mom would always ask me ” Have you taken it to God yet?” To which I’d stammer, stutter and spin my tale of woe or angst and she’d simply say…. ” well …have you?” When I’d finally do what she advised, the calmness would come, perhaps no solution had manifested itself, but I’d know that someone much bigger had the problem in his hands and I could rest easy. I’m adding your mom’s advice to my moms for those moments I am spinning my wheels and forget to just breathe!

    • Thank you for the compliments Lori. Oh, if only we could all be as wise as our mothers one day. I’ll have to take your mom’s advice of praying about it to heart too, for this is not always my first inclination.

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