Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Decision Making Fatigue

We had a great message last night in the teen class! Exactly what I needed. Among other things, the pastor pointed out the fact that without the filling of the Holy Spirit and God's truth circulating in your soul you will lack the spiritutual energy to handle the daily pressures that come into your life. One of the keys to life is knowing who's in charge: Is your soul controlling your body/emotions, or is your body/your emotions controlling your soul? And just as important, is the Holy Spirit controlling your soul as it controls your body?

One of the ways the kingdom of darkness can get to us is through the mental fatigue that comes from having to make a lot of decisions. School teachers have to make a lot of decisions in a day. Air traffic controllers are said to have the most decision-intensive job, though I'm not so sure mom's with lots of kids at home might not give them a run for their money!

More to the point of this blog, though, I would also say that writing a first draft involves making a lot of decisions. (should my hero go here or there? What are the names of the towns "here" or "there"? Are they walking or riding? How did they get enough horses for everyone to ride? How many men are there, anyway? And if everyone's not riding, how does that work? How can they avoid notice if half of them are riding? And on and on. )

In the process of making lots of decisions, some of them are going to get to you. You're going to be uncertain. Or get frustrated or there'll be something that's going to get you anxious and disturbed. It may be subtle, but it will happen. And once you let those mental or emotional sins dwell in your soul, you're out of fellowship. So you have to be alert to the possibility of that, and confess them regularly if needed.

After class I Googled decision-making fatigue and discovered a Stanford study showing that decision-making actually depletes the same "psychological resources" that are used to regulate self. When you have to make a lot of decisions, you become less able (humanly) to "persist at a task despite a strong desire to quit" and less able "to override impulses." So if after your stint at some hard writing, there are all these fun distractions around like video games or magazines -- or email or blogs -- then, you are probably going to have trouble resisting them. Especially given the choice of doing that or working on some editing where you have to make more decisions. (Perhaps that's why I've had good success with getting started editing a piece when I tell myself I don't have to do anything but read the scene and make any changes or notes that occur to me. If none occur... oh, well. Then I don't have to do anything.)

It also reinforces the importance of having some sort of routine and habit so you can cut down on the numbers of decisions you have to make about regular, mundane things. And the added importance of coming to a decision quickly, not endlessly vacillating between options. Thus, in the interest of saving my decision-making, self-regulatory energies for the book, I shall not spend a lot of time trying to decide if this post is worth posting and just post it!

Thanks so much for all the prayers and feedback. I appreciate it. Yesterday I wrote 10 pages into ch 31, and am heading off to finish that up today.