Analysis paralysis or paralysis by analysis is the state of over-analyzing (or over-thinking) a situation so that a decision or action is never taken, in effect paralyzing the outcome.
A few years after I got out of college and realized that any dream of being in the movie business was all but over, I started to jot down short synopsis of movie ideas I would think of. At the time I didn’t really think about how or what purpose they served, but I wanted to keep track of my ideas. My entire life I’ve always seen life through a movie like lens, so I was always thinking of cool ideas that would make great movies. Unfortunately that’s all I had ever done though…come up with some great ideas. I always felt that maybe someday I’d figure out what to do with those ideas, but in the meantime, they collected digital dust.
There was one particular idea I had that I could never stop thinking about that to this day, I always thought it would be a blockbuster hit, and rarely would a day go by that I did not think about it. 20 years I’ve had that idea. It’s evolved quite a bit of course. As I’ve gotten older, I started to get more serious about doing something with it. At first I thought I’d write a book. Why not? These days you can self-publish, and I could have a tangible accomplishment; something I could sell or give to friends and family to read. But I could never get my head right about how to write it as a book. The biggest problem was, I’m not a big reader. How can someone effectively write a book, that barely likes to read them? I’d research tools, software, strategies, trying to find a way to get me started. Excitement and motivation would come and go, life would get in the way. Progress stifled. Paralyzed by over analysis.
I suppose there’s no set blueprint for how to break through with a big idea. For me it was the combination of years of planning, and a few seeds late in life that put me over the top. The first was courtesy of a completely random conversation with a colleague of mine. While on a video shoot for my company in Nebraska, I and Playfish Media, a film crew I hired for the project (who by the way are fantastic, highly recommended), were driving to our shoot when I felt motivated to share my book idea. Jillian Suleski, the owner, and someone who’s opinion matters on the subject matter, was really taken by the idea which was great. But more importantly she asked me a very important question that as I look back, I realize may very well be the turning point.
Well, when you think of the story in your head, do you see a book or a movie?
Something as simple as that really drove it home for me. I got so caught up on having to write this story as a book. I just felt that made more sense. Self-publishing is at our finger tips. A tangible deliverable I could give to people to read. Screenplays and Hollywood seemed like such a fantasy world to me. Why write a screenplay that would just collect dust? Jillian went on to share how in this day and age, there’s more opportunity then ever when it comes to screenwriters. Pitchfests, contests…not to mention streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon all vying for great concepts and ideas. It’s a different world. I was hooked. Of course I saw my story as a movie in my head. I had to stop denying the path that made sense for me.
My excitement and motivation was at an all time high. So what did I do next? I fell right back into my analysis paralysis. Rather then dive into writing, I researched all the avenues a screenwriter could submit to. I researched how to write a screenplay, how to do it right. Weeks went by, excitement/motivation died down again. Ugh. But this time I was determined to not stay trapped. I knew I was doing this to myself again. I needed help. I needed structure, guidance, and accountability.
We live in a day and age where there is so much opportunity at our fingertips. And for me, the Screenwriters University was exactly what I needed to break through years of non-action. Memorial Day weekend cooped up in the house with the wifey was the last step. She not only thought it was a good idea, she implored that I take it. That was all I needed. I signed up, and hoped that this was the kick in the ass I needed.
I’m a week away from finishing the class, and in the past month, I can’t even believe how much I’ve learned and how far I’ve come. Everything is coming so easy to me now that I honestly think this is something I was born to do. I’m not so naive to think that I may actually sell a screenplay someday, but it won’t come without trying. 21 years ago I turned down going to film school. I think about that day all the time. What if?
But now I’ve got a second chance. A second chance at the very least to accomplish something I’ve waited a long time to do. Write my movie. I’ve broken free and I’m off and running now. And if I can do it, anyone can. Whatever your passion, gift or bucket list item is, never stop trying to figure out how to make it happen. Don’t let the details paralyze you from action like it did me for so long.