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Big Ideas. Short Books.

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Founded by Debbie Weil, author of The Corporate Blogging Book

When it comes to writing a book, are you a Maximizer or a Satisficer?

Satisfice_Maximize_iStock_000025877977XSmallI’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I make decisions. I like to consider every option. I use multiple variables to triangulate. I want to make the best, most perfect decision. The excellent choice.

In fact, I proudly used the word triangulate in explaining to my husband why it was taking me weeks to purchase a plane ticket for our Gap Year After Sixty trip to Paris next month.

If you’ve ever used to look for the “best flight option” you know how overwhelming it can be: cost, airline, partner airlines, number of stops, available seats, upgrade possibilities, departure and return cities. And how do you use all those American Express points?

He looked at me with perplexity. Why don’t you just go with the first, most sensible option, he asked. Turns out Sam is a Satisficer and I’m a Maximizer. That explains a lot. And not just about purchasing airline tickets.

How Does Your Decision-Making Style Relate to Writing?

The terms maximizer and satisficer were popularized almost a decade ago when psychologist Barry Schwartz used them in his best-selling The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less.

Simply put, a maximizer is a perfectionist who exhaustively explores every possible angle before making a choice. A satisficer (satisfy + suffice) makes an acceptable choice and does it quickly. In other words, very good is good enough most of the time.

Not surprisingly, the cost of being a maximizer is stress and anxiety. The extra effort plus the time consumed often outweighs any possible improvement in the final outcome.

I like to think that I only “maximize” when the decision is significant in terms of cost or impact on my business or life. But the fact is I probably spend a bit too much time scanning the toothpaste and orange juice displays at the grocery store.

Maximizers Make the Sh*tty First Draft Even More Difficult

And I know that I spend too much time worrying about how I will complete the first draft of something I’m writing, what Anne Lamott calls the shitty first draft. Will the draft be complete? Logical? Interesting? Persuasive? Brilliant?

Of course not.

That’s the whole point. It’s not supposed to be.

As a perfectionist, I set the bar too high and make the process more difficult than it needs to be. If you fall into the maximizing category for some or all of your decision-making, it can result in postponing a book project:

  • For the perfect moment
  • Until you have enough time to write
  • Until you’ve figured out just the right angle
  • Until you’ve completed the next round of business travel
  • Until you’ve nailed a killer title
  • And so on

Cut Through Your Decision Cycle

It’s hard to change your decision-making style as it relates to a Go or No-Go or When or How for writing a book. One way to slice through your thinking is to bounce your book idea off an experienced editor.

That’s why I open my schedule occasionally to offer a 30-minute Knock Down session to get clarity about your book project.

First come, first served. Use this link to sign up: 

We will identify obstacles and by the end of our conversation you will have a plan for moving forward. You can decide if we’re a fit to work together. Note: these sessions are not always available.

Write on!

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