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Not too long ago my father-in-law presented me with a challenge. I placed all of my fingers together at the tips except the middle fingers, which touched at the knuckles:IMG_8516.JPG

Easy enough, right? Then I had to tap each pair of fingers together on command, all without moving the middle fingers. First the pinkies, then thumbs, next the pointer fingers.

Child’s play…until he called out the ring fingers.

I couldn’t move them. At all. I strained just about every muscle in my body. Nothing.

I resorted to glaring at my fingers in an attempt at telepathy. Nada.

No matter how hard I tried, they wouldn’t budge, though I always seemed to be just on the edge of success.

Worse, long after figuring out that those fingers were staying put, I spent a lot more time and energy trying to prove otherwise. I earned for my efforts a stabbing three-day headache. It reinforced the idea that if you think too long or hard on something, the effects can be crippling.

Likewise, in writing–or any worthy goal–it’s easy to overthink a project or try to force an ill-placed scene.

One can puzzle for months how to approach a story, but at some point the words to that story must be introduced to their pages. Some scenes or characters need cutting, others filling out.

Thoughts must become decisions that turn into action.

Otherwise, precious time gets lost in the Labyrinth of Perpetual Thought and Distraction, where corridors are lined with finger statues, and progress hides behind a foggy horizon always just out of reach.

“Think it through too long, and it may stay a thought forever.”

Your Turn: What are your biggest obstacles to progress? Try the exercise (though don’t spend too much time on it). Were you able to tap the ring fingers together?