Friday, July 8, 2011

The Most Important Thing I Learned This Week: Impulsivity Is Not a Virtue

“Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.” --Vincent van Gogh

No one ever told me I was impulsive. 
But earlier this week this truth hit me right between the eyes.
So I've spent the past few days reflecting on how impulsivity has adversely affected my writing life.

On impulse, I have tweeted things before thinking.
On impulse, I queried agents before my manuscript was ready. 
On impulse, I have commented on blogs without proofing what I wrote.
On impulse, I have posted things on my own blog that I later had to remove. 
On impulse, I sent my manuscript to editors (who requested it) before it was ready.
On impulse, I have sent emails that had to be followed up with an "oops" and an apology. 

Do you see a pattern here? Most of my impulsive behavior has been the direct result of a trigger finger on the send button. What is the cure? Self-control. A deep breath. Step away from the computer. Vincent knew what he was talking about--great things are NOT done by impulse.

Anyone else struggle with this issue? Can impulsivity bring any positive things to the writer's palette? 


  1. *hiding in a corner* *raising my hand* Impulsive Freak here. I totally feel you. I've had to learn to slow down, take my time and stop acting on impulse. When I first started blogging, I posted some of my short stories that were BY FAR not ready to be viewed by public eye. But...we learn from our mistakes, huh? But..I think it can definitely add to our writing though. It's when I write on impulse that some of my best work makes it way to the page. My level of creativity is different than when I over-think a scene.

  2. I have serious impulsivity issues. For a long time, it really bothered me and I'd spend a lot wasted time self-flagellating over it. I've learned over the past couple of years to embrace it--it is, after all, who I am, part and parcel of me. Of course, balance is key (I'm still working on that part ;-)), and I think the ease with which we can publicly act too quickly (and without being able to take it back) has definitely been exacerbated by advances in technology. Very interesting to think about ...

  3. Count me in! Often when I am doing one thing, an idea enters my head and I drop the task at hand to follow it up. Then while doing that thing, another idea pops up and I drop that and head off to follow that one. And on it goes. At the end of the day, I have many tasks started but very few completed. It must end. Join me at Impulsives Anonymous.

    Hello, my name is Stephanie and I am impulsive.

  4. Good to know I strummed a common chord
    You're right, Charissa, I do think impulsivity can bring freshness to our storytelling.
    KLo, I'm happy to hear the beatings have ended. Balance is definitely a key.
    Stephanie, you're not alone. But we get things done eventually, don't we?

  5. I had to re-post my last blog entry FOUR times because I found I'd left out words. They were there in my mental version, but not the page... Sigh. I so hear you (and Vincent).

  6. I think impulsivity can have positive or negative effects. The negative side is "haste," but the positive side is "spontaneity."

    I'm the very opposite of impulsive. I'm a thinker, a planner, a rehearser. Consequently, I can sometimes miss out on fun or last-minute opportunities because I always want to think everything out first.

  7. GP we'll learn how to slow down some day.

    Jenn--I'll trade you a couple impulses for a dose of planning and a rehearsal.

  8. When I first started writing last year, I wanted to send out queries before the ms was done. Did that and learned my lesson. :P

  9. Hi Angelina. Nice to meet you! I can totally relate. I have to remind myself to approach the internet as you would a court of law. Anything you say or do can be held against you and will be forever recorded for future reference.
    And I'm notorious for querying before a story is read. I just get so excited! lol

  10. Oh yes! I so know what you are talking about. I feel calm today though, I've managed a bit of writing, reading and scrapbooking. No impulsive behaviour yet lol.

  11. Great topic! I've done all of the above, and most times regretted my quick-acting fingers and rush for a response. I've gotten much better, but still struggle with this.

  12. Nice to meet you, too, Pk. Court of law. I like that.
    I'll try to stay calm with you, Catherine.
    Thanks, bedazzled. Happy to hear it's gotten better.

  13. Ah, the dreaded trigger finger. I've sent out many replies before proofing them. And I used to send out manuscripts before they were ready, but never again...

  14. This is something that I've been working on for months, and have improved on. Though I am guilty for the occasional impulse tweet. In fact, I think there are still WANTED posters up of me from my days of trigger-happy emails, lol. Fantastic topic!


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