Doing > Thinking About Doing
If thinking doesn’t end with action, it’s useless. Taking action is why we think. If you’re thinking just to think, that’s useless, too.
John Braddock, A Spy’s Guide to Thinking
I like to talk. I like to think. I like to talk about thinking.
That may sound like a brag, but it is a confession.
As important as thinking is, it is nothing compared to actually doing something.
When I make something in my workshop, I try to think through the details so I don’t waste any wood. I search through my sizeable collection of lumber to find just the right board that will have the minimum scrap left over.
Even with that ample supply, I am often paralyzed by the “fear” of wasting a good board.
Planning is important.
Even simple projects often have a surprising degree of complexity.
If I am solving a maze, arriving at a dead end is not a disaster. I simply retrace my path and try a different branch.
Miscalculations in constructing a jewelry box can result in some expensive firewood.
If I don’t have plans I found on Pinterest, I’ll make my own, along with a sketch.
At that stage, changing my mind about the object’s style or size requires merely making a new sketch and recalculating dimensions.
Once I make the first cut, however, I am committed.
Some changes can be made in the middle of a project, but it is difficult to make a board longer or wider.
Other creative activities are more forgiving.
When I am writing, for example, I need to have a general idea of what I want to say.
I may have an outline in my head, but I rarely take the time to make all the decisions before I start putting words on the screen.
If I decide to go a different direction in the middle of an essay, the most I’ve lost is some time and effort.
With essays like this one, the only decision I need to make before I start typing is to select the quotation I will start with.
The main consideration there is that I have something to say about the topic.
After that, the most important thing is to get started.
There is something about the process of writing that refines my thoughts.
No doubt, some sloppy thinking still slips past the editing stage, but just thinking about writing can only get me so far.
Most things in my life are more like writing than woodworking.
The most important thing is to get started.
What project have you thought about doing but is stuck in the planning stage?
What first step can you take today?
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